Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tax Freedom Day, 2009

Here I am again, back from my trip out to Ohio. The business part of the trip was very successful and educational, but - of course - the best part was the ability to spend some (not enough) time with my son and his family. Before we get down to business, here's a picture of yours truly with Noah, Joe, and Marcy - the most wonderful grandchildren west of the Ohio state line ...

Jason took about 15 straight pictures in a hopeless attempt to get all three kids sitting still, smiling at the camera, and me with my eyes open. This was about as good as it got. To paraphrase Mel Brooks, "It's good to be the grandpa!"

Okay, now down to business.

Yesterday was Tax Day - April 15th - the day each year individual American taxpayers must submit their tax returns and pay their taxes due to the Infernal Revenue Service. Two other dates are worth mentioning:

April 13th: National Tax Freedom Day - the first day of the year on which, according to the Tax Foundation, Americans first begin to keep the money they earn, having made enough to pay all their federal, state, and local income, payroll, real estate, sales, excise, luxury, and other taxes and tax-like fees we're liable for. Tax Freedom Day came earlier this year than last, largely because the dismal state of the economy has reduced income, which has reduced the tax bite. You can read about it here.

April 16th: that would be today, which is Tax Freedom Day in the Commonwealth of Virginia. This means that we Virginians worked 106 days to pay all our taxes this year, and our Tax Freedom Day is the sixth latest (Connecticut is number one, with a Tax Freedom Day of April 30th; number 50 is Alaska, on March 30th). You can see all the rankings here.

As you all know by now, I don't object in principle to paying taxes. However, like all Americans, I believe in equality and fairness under the law, and in the belief that we should have to pay the minimum in taxes consistent with the needs of the government to pay its legitimate expenses. The problem, of course, comes in defining what those legitimate expenses are. In Bilbo's humble opinion, legitimate expenses include:

- National defense;

- Essential services (police, fire department, public health, schools); and,

- Operation and administration of government (this does not include any office led by an individual whose title begins with more than two qualifiers, as in "(1) Principal (2) Deputy (3) Assistant (4) Under (5) Secretary of ___ for ___.")

Illegitimate expenses, on the other hand, include:

- Any services of any sort for anyone in this country illegally;

- Foreign aid provided to any country whose citizens routinely participate in demonstrations which call for death to America or any specific American; and,

- Tax benefits provided to any specific individual or industry which increase the tax burden on individual taxpayers.

I believe in fairness. I don't think anyone's taxes should be based on their ability to hire a good tax lawyer, or to contribute enough to a Senator or Reprehensive who can craft the tax code to their advantage. If you want to take part in protest "Tea Parties," knock yourself out. But you're wasting your time. Making a lot of noise for the cameras and mouthing the platitudes that your talk radio heroes spout doesn't help - educating yourself, voting, and making your positive and constructive recommendations known to your elected leaders at every level does.

I'm all in favor of the earliest possible Tax Freedom Day consistent with the government's ability to operate and provide essential services. We just need to agree on what those essential services are...and that's no trivial task. One person's pork is another person's essential service.

As for me, I'll keep writing letters to my elected reprehensives. And I'll keep sighing and writing those checks to Uncle Sam and to the Governor of Virginia each year.

And I'll enjoy an occasional cup of tea without thinking about taxes.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



KKTSews said...

You came to Ohio, AGAIN, and didn't call me? Oh yeah, I know I went to DC last month and didn't call you. Payback.
The really cute picture is what Jason needs to take--you crawling on the floor with three grand-kids all climbing all over you. Take that one while they're all still small!

The Mistress of the Dark said...

Adorable pic! We missed ya :)

anOCgirl said...

to contribute enough to a Senator or Reprehensivehmmm...i'm sure that's a typo. however, reprehensive/representative...same difference!

Anonymous said...

Bilbo, me lad:

I disagree with your belief that nationwide demonstrations are a waste of time. Politicians pay attention when citizens are so upset they leave their warm boob-tubes and march in the streets. Because Americans a a peaceful bunch, a smart politician should consider this the US equivalent of a nationwide riot. We haven't had a nationwide riot since the Civil War, so wise reprehensibles and senacles should think long and hard about taking our money away through taxes so they can blithely toss our bucks toward people who mismanaged our economy, and who will give some portion of our tax money back to the Reps and Sen's cynical campaign committees.

Meanwhile, anybody up for re-election in less than 2 years better heed the Tea Party message:

We're mad as hell and we're not going to be taken anymore!

You know who.

Amanda said...

Its good to have you back. All your grandkids are so cute!

And, it was interesting to know about your Tax Freedom Day. Never knew that....

Leslie David said...

Hi Bill,

I saw some people demonstrating in Reston last night on my way home--gave a whole new meaning to "not smart enough to come in out of the rain." I guess they didn't get Obama's Econ 101 memo.

Please tell Anonymous that having marched in the streets against the surge with all the other demonstrators (my first since I was too young for Vietnam) we saw how much good that did--none. Maybe we should do what your friends, the French do and call a general strike and just shut down everything. I thought the last riot we had was when the WWI vets marched to DC to protest not getting their benefits.

Glad you're back--you have the cutest grandkids.

SusieQ said...

Bilbo, I, too, disagree with you about the power of political demonstrations such as the kind that took place yesterday across the country with the Tea Parties.

I attended one of the Tea Parties yesterday in protest primarily of excessive taxation and excessive spending which have been going on for years.

These political demonstrations are designed to let the politicians know there is more to come. This is the beginning of a movement, not the grand finale.

Such sweet grandchildren you have there.

Melissa B. said...

I'm not so focused on Tax Freedom today as I am on gun control. 2nd anniversary, VA Tech, you know.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

I thought Tax Freedom Day was 30th December.

Mike said...

I would rather think about tax freedom hour. The first two hours of work every day is for taxes. The rest is for me. That is if I still worked.