Posted by: The moderator | April 15, 2010

Tax Day

Today is the day millions of Americans rush to the post office in a last-minute rush to mail their tax forms to the IRS. These taxes are supposed to pay for our roads, education, national security, and now a larger part of our healthcare. However, with a budget deficit in the trillions, our taxes obviously aren’t covering everything.

Part of the problem is the never-ending populist drumbeat of tax cuts. The United States has the lowest tax rates of any industrialized nation in the world, and yet there are still people (mainly conservatives and libertarians but also a number of financially-confused liberals) who think we should pay less.

Of course, we wouldn’t have to raise taxes if everyone paid their fair share in this civilized society. A third of taxpayers actually pay no income taxes (36 percent to be exact). They’re cashing in on the plethora of tax credits and loopholes, allowing themselves to escape the duty of supporting our country. We’ve been trying to direct people’s purchases and family planning by giving tax credits for just about anything that supports a politician’s agenda. As an editorial on CNN puts it, “The consequence of turning the tax code into a tool for social policy is that we now have a record 52 million filers off the income tax rolls.”

On the flip side, there are many people making too little money to pay taxes, which isn’t a bad thing. A single dollar is worth more to a person living from paycheck to paycheck than it is to a corporate executive making six or seven figures. However, there are people who actually make money from the IRS thanks to some of our redistributive tax credits. Rather than the credits zeroing the person’s tax liability, they actually receive money for being poor. I’m not opposed to a progressive tax system that recognizes our poorest workers shouldn’t be held to the same financial obligations as our wealthiest individuals, but “tax day” should never be “pay day.”

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