Monday, April 17, 2006

"Yeah I'm the Taxman / And You're Working For No One But Me"

George Harrison wrote the above quoted coda to "Taxman" in response to the oppressive 94% tax rate that he and the rest of the Beatles were subject to in the 1960s. On days like today, when tax filings are due in the United States, I guess some people would like us to remember that we have one of the lowest income tax rates in the world. And although I am a fan of road maintenance as well as police and fire departments, I am not such a fan of useless taxes that were enacted for a good reason as one time but are still on the books because the federal, state and local governments just don't want to lose the revenue.

Take for example some of the ludicrous state and local taxes that this article mentions:

In Mississippi, you'll pay a 7% tax on all amusements, unless you are going to hear gospel music and the program is not mixed with "hillbilly or popular singing," according to tax experts.

If you want to buy a deck of playing cards in Alabama, be prepared to pay a tax.

Last year, Tennessee became the latest of more than 20 states to tax illegal drugs. Under the law, when you acquire an illegal drug, you have 48 hours to report to the state and pay your tax, although you aren't required to identify yourself. Once you've paid, you'll receive stamps to put on your illegal substance to show evidence you paid the tax. You don't have to identify yourself to pay the tax.

It gets worse though. If you've ever examined your cell phone bill and been puzzled by all of the taxes tacked on to the end, you might have notice a little something called the Federal Excise Tax. That tax was enacted in 1898 as a temporary luxury tax on telephones (because they certainly were a luxury item 108 years ago) used to help finance the Spanish-American War. It has stayed on the books ever since and grown over time to account for a 3% tax on your phone bill. I know that the federal government is really good at spending money it doesn't have to do all sorts of things, but I'm pretty sure that the bills from that war are paid off by now. Still, this money is being collected, but no one really knows where it is going!?! On top of all that, cell phones are most definitely not a luxury item. It is my most basic means of communication! One could argue that we don't need to be constantly accessible at all hours of the day, but my argument is that I dumped my "land-line" five years ago since long distance plans for cell phones are much cheaper.

So what can we do about these kinds of taxes? Federal and state legislatures will do nothing unless they hear something from us. In fact they will keep making up new superfluous taxes made to take advantage of commerce. You can let them know how you feel about the Federal Excise Tax here. Just click on your state and follow the instructions to let your disapproval be heard by your representatives. But more importantly, make sure to tell people because most people don't know about many of our hidden taxes. Just because we have representation doesn't mean we should be gouged at every turn.

1 comment:

katielady said...

I'll bet they get a lot of revenue from people reporting on their illegal drugs. I'm just sayin'.

No one said government was smart.