April 15th … the day all US citizens are supposed to file their income tax returns … or tell the government why they're delaying. Even though we don't live in the US full time any more, we're still required to file tax returns. Just in case you think we Americans are alone dreading tax day, we're not. Paying taxes is painful everywhere we've visited in the world. Politics, government spending, tax rates ...no matter where we go, these subjects are always good for some lively, if not heated discussions.
Completing tax forms ( according to Wiki Answers, there are some 1120+ active tax forms for the feds alone) and paying additional taxes, if required, are akin to root canals and giving birth … although I'm not trying to give either root canals or childbirth a bad rap.
It's nothing new. The ancient Egyptians groused about paying taxes as did the Greeks and the Romans. Taxes seem to be the price we pay for “civilization”. Though it's hard to believe, Americans pay significantly less federal taxes than many other countries of the world. Sweden tops the list and Japan is at the bottom, followed by the US. Oh, there's more though … sales tax, gasoline tax, excise tax, national parks, property taxes, unemployment taxes, Medicare and Social Security, self-employment tax. The list is never-ending. What is it they say? “Nothing's certain but death and taxes.”
The $2.5 trillion collected in US federal tax revenues pay for health care, military and national defense, highways, border security, cancer research, disaster relief, food and drug safety, education. Surely everyone in the US (if they live in-country) benefit, have benefited or will benefit from some or all of these expenditures. Everything costs money. Some things are more important to some of us than to others. If you're a farmer, or a miner or a baker, or a small business owner or a big business owner or from Maine or Texas or Arkansas, your priorities will differ. You can't please all the people all the time.
One professor recommends that just making the tax-paying process easier and more “gratifying” would go a long way towards making the process a bit more palatable. I just read a newspaper article about a group of tax scholars who recommend that the government should be marketing to its citizens what benefits they derive from paying their taxes. Instead of being the big, bad IRS, the author advocates more effort (and $$) should be used to educate folks just how their taxes are spent ... perhaps, even revitalizing the thought that paying taxes was part of their patriotic duty. They rationalize that people are more apt to part with their money more graciously if they agree with how it is spent. Just look at how well volunteer and philanthropic organizations do in coaxing money out of people. But spending more tax money to market to citizens, so they feel better about paying taxes … maybe not.
What are your views on taxes? Love/hate relationship? Getting a refund this year or paying?
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