A few questions about taxes
April 15, 2005
It’s hard not to think about taxes on this day, the day on which Americans are required to mail their tax returns to the Infernal Robbery Service, by 5 p.m.
I have a few questions for tax law writers to ponder.
This year, my effective tax rate – the percentage of my adjusted gross income that I paid in federal and state income and payroll taxes – was 30 percent. However, the rate I paid on more than 60 percent of my income was closer to 50 percent. Do you think people less honest than me would be more likely to report ALL of their income if the tax rate was the same on all of it?
In 1980, 38 percent of tax filers used tax preparation services. The rest prepared their own returns. This year, 61 percent used tax preparation services. Why do you suppose so many more people have become so incompetent in such a short period of time?
According to the Government Accountability Office, individuals and companies spent about 6.5 billion hours this year filing their taxes. Does that seem like a good use of time?
A $5,000 investment in the stock of tax-return preparer H&R Block in the fall of 1986 would (with dividends reinvested) be worth more than $170,000 today. Based on your plans for the future, should I still buy H&R Block stock today, or should I short the stock?
The IRS estimates that people “cheated” on their taxes to the tune of $300 billion in 2003. Do you suppose Americans are that dishonest, or could there be another reason?
I am reading a U.S. Treasury report that says in 2005, under President Bush’s tax cuts, the top 1% of income earners will pay 33.7% of all federal income taxes, but without his tax cuts, they would pay 32.3% of all taxes. At the same time, the bottom 50% will pay 3.6% of the taxes with the Bush tax cut, but would pay 4.1% without his tax cut. Were Democrats not allowed to read this report, and if they have read it, why do they keep saying that the President’s tax cuts disproportionately help the rich?
Do we really need all 7 million words in the U.S. tax code? Have you read them all? How long did it take you?
What exactly did you do for me this year that was worth more than the combined cost of my mortgage, groceries, utilities, insurance (home, car and health), clothing, entertainment, home and car maintenance, and the gifts I gave my family for birthdays and Christmas?
Finally, if you don’t have good answers to all, or at least most, of these questions, don’t you think it’s time to get serious about tax reform?