Friday, April 15, 2011

Tax Day USA

My father employed ritual to teach me an important lesson in civics and citizen responsibility.  On April 15 every year, he made certain that I understood what was going on in the country. 

While I don't remember all of the techniques he used, I do recall being present at the crucial moment when he made out his check to the Internal Revenue Service.  I can still see him at the kitchen table or at  his small desk in our living room pulling out his checkbook and carefully filling in the blanks. 

Then came the short speech that went something like this every year:  "Son, we should be grateful that we have the ability to pay taxes.  I never begrudge what I pay back to our country.  We are blessed to be here and we're lucky to have a life like we enjoy."

That was it. 

He never overdid anything. 

Short. 

To the point. 

Honest and clear. 

Today, in my very different world with much lower tax rates, I file my return electronically.

But, I remember and I smile. 

I miss my dad. 

I'm thankful for what he taught me. 

And I'm most grateful for this country. 

And yes, I had to write a check.  Proud and thankful that I could.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

When one examines the overall tax burden which includes state and federal income taxes, social security taxes, medicare, sales taxes, property taxes, and so forth, we are paying a much higher rate than your father

Anonymous said...

And federal spending is at is highest level in the past 60 years!

Anonymous said...

I'm with you, Larry. It's a privilege equal to voting.
Ann

Larry James said...

We may pay more; not sure about the combined rates. But I do know I've enjoyed greater benefits than even he. He also told me that we get what we pay for, usually. Investing in children, health, transporation, research, safety,defense, etc., seems worth it to me.

Anonymous said...

By my rough calculation, our household pays about 33% of our income in taxes of all kinds. In return we get everything from police and fire protection to roads to the FBI and the world's largest military helping keep us safe, not to mention SS and medicare when we get old. We make a decent income and pay a significant amount in various taxes. But considering all we get in return (and that just directly, not to meniton that some of our money helps the disadvantaged) I'm really okay paying the taxes we pay. All in all, it seems like a pretty fair deal.

Ken
Dallas

Jeremy said...

You get the country you pay for.

Jerry said...

Great tribute to your father; he was a GREAT man. Don't know if you ever knew this story: When I came to you wedding in June, 1969, your Dad took me to Love Field to fly back home to Ind. When we got to the airport I had to purchase my ticket, and found I was short of cash! Your Dad promptly opened his wallet and paid, not just the difference, but the entire ticket price! I will never forget that generous gesture. Fortunately, his loving, tender, generous spirit lives on in you, his son. He taught you well, and you have lived up to his expectations! Keep up your wonderful work.

Jerry said...

To Ken in Dallas:
The good news is that what you say is true; the bad news is that what you say is true. My point: Americans do get a lot for our taxes, but our taxes are not paying for it, especially for SS and Medicare. To pay as we go would take far more than 33% and increasing. Currently we borrow over 33 cents for every dollar we spend. According to the general accounting office, if we continue the current trajectory, it will require 80% marginal tax rates to pay for all federal services, not counting state and local. Another point to ponder: How much money is there to tax? According to the WSJ on April 12, 2011, the IRS data show that for the 2008 tax year the TOTAL taxable income of all individuals making $100,000 or more was $1.58 Trillion. To put that in perspective, the deficit for the current FY is over $1.7 Trillion! In other words, if we confiscated 100% of all income of all people making over $100,000, we still would not be able to balance the budget! So, the true bad news is that we are building a HUGE Ponzi scheme that will come crashing down on all of us if we do not mend our ways. The starting point is that we must allow the Govt to do less, much less than we currently expect, because there just is not the revenue available to pay for it all!

Anonymous said...

Jerry, I don't who you are, but you hit the nail on the head. I am no economist, but it seems to me if American does not do some real budget cutting there will eventually be a real payday that none of us will like.

Richard Corum

Anonymous said...

Maybe that's why it seems like such a good deal! Seriously, I agree with you both that the deficit is an enormous problem we have to tackle. My comments, a la Larry's original post, were really just about not udnerstanding why people feel so put upon because they pay taxes.

Ken
Dallas

Anonymous said...

Try this, Ken. I am fine with paying taxes to address the needs of those who can not take care of themselves. But I am quite disturbed about paying to take care of those who refuse to take care of themselves. they have the skills and the time, but presume upon me and the rest of the middle class by resting on the unfair tax system. When you consider increasing taxes to cover the debt and deficit, the increase is disproportionate on those who make a little more (the middle class). That is Jerry's point. The rich can't pay it all and the poor pay none. That's not fair.

Anonymous said...

With one change, and one change only - getting rid of the Bush era tax cuts for those making more than $250,000 - we could cut the deficit in half, or better. $250,000 a year puts you in the top 2% of income earners. The increase in taxes in this bracket is only 4.5% So, actually the "rich" can pay a substantial part of the deficit down. Combined with spending cuts, we could get there without raising taxes on the middle class. By R's will fight this tooth and nail.