Monday, April 10, 2006

Bill Thomspon On Taxes

News Reporter

I’m sure everybody is aware that the deadline for filing your 2005 income tax form is fast approaching. It is a thought that strikes fear and loathing in the hearts of many.

I can’t think of any other organization that shares the collective and individual disdain of so many as does the Internal Revenue Service. But we all realize that with so many people employed by the government, to provide so many services in some way or other, there has to be a source from which to pay them.

In the beginning our Founding Fathers figured those folks who owned land should be the ones to bear the burden of paying for the government, so they determined that property taxes should take care of it. But the government continued to grow faster than the country and the government realized there was not enough country to tax. The idea of “Manifest Destiny” that caused us to expand the country from the Atlantic to the Pacific was a last-ditch effort to find more land to tax. It wasn’t enough so they came up with the income tax.

Tax reform is probably going to be a major issue in the coming election. It always is. Every politician agrees that the method of determining how much we owe the government is not working. I seriously doubt if any change will occur. After all, they have told us in previous years that the report forms would be simpler but they get more complex each year.

It is certainly popular for any political candidate to state his desire to reduce taxation. However, to borrow somewhat from Sir Winston Churchill, never has so little been waited on by so many for so long.

I understand that there is one candidate for the senate who has suggested that we do away with paying taxes to the government and just send them the income—a practical but unpopular suggestion.

I have been paying taxes (and social security, but that’s another story) since I was 10 years old. I feel sure that in the grand scheme of things, the amount I have paid is miniscule compared to what others have paid. But as far as I am concerned, mine was the most important.

In more than a half century of dealing with the IRS, I have developed some pretty strong opinions about the organization. Some of those opinions cannot be voiced in a family newspaper.

However, I do have some thoughts that I might share with you and in turn you might share with your accountant. (Personally, I always have an accountant fill out my tax reporting form. I do so not only because it is beyond my comprehension, but for me to do so would be something like a do-it-yourself mugging.)

First, I believe that the general opinion of the IRS is that this country is one of untold wealth… literally. I’m sure somebody has some statistic to state what percentage of us purposely misreports our income. I believe that the actual number is low. The number who accidentally report their income is probably higher. Notice I didn’t say whether the error was more or less than the actual. That’s for the IRS to figure out.

Secondly, I believe that with an annual budget in the billions of dollars, it would be possible for the government to find enough funds to pay people to teach the IRS the basic English necessary to write a readable tax form.

I do not understand why the instructions in the tax reporting form use such convoluted terminology. Probably what they really want to say is, “If at the end of the year you have any money left, sent it to us.” This year’s form has been simplified beyond all understanding.

This is the only country in the world where it takes more brains to fill out the income tax return than it does to make the money.

It is extremely difficult to believe that this country was founded, in part, to avoid excessive taxation. However, in July of 1776, we did declare our freedom from Great Britain partly because of unfair taxation. In 1777, we started our own system of unfair taxation which continues unabated.

The only positive thing I can think of about taxes is that we don’t have to pay taxes on our debts.

posted by David at 8:20 PM :: Permalink ::

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