Editorial:

Tax Day reminds us how wasteful government is

Posted

Monday was Tax Day. It’s unfortunate that Tax Day doesn’t fall closer to Election Day, as it would probably encourage voters to think twice before voting for candidates who want to spend and tax more.

It’s easy to find examples of just how unwisely government spends our money. In November 2017, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) awarded $297 million to a private company to hire 7,500 more agents over a five-year period. In the first 10 months of the program, CBP paid the company $13.6 million though it had only filled two of the 7,500 positions. Fortunately, the contract was canceled earlier this month.

Since 2016, the Air Force spent $326,785 on 391 mugs. These super impressive mugs plugged into aircraft electrical system and reheated beverages and soups while in flight. Most people would choose a cold cola and a protein bar over an $800 self-warming coffee mug — and therein lies the problem with government spending. It’s very easy to spare no expense when the expense isn’t your own. The national debt, which now exceeds $22 trillion, illustrates this well.

These are two examples of literally thousands. Many taxpayers, however, want government to spend even more. They want free healthcare, free college and even free housing. Those who want the government to spend more often argue we could fund these programs if the wealthy paid their “fair share.” Proponents of higher taxes on the wealthy point to anecdotes of billionaires paying little in taxes.

The data, though, does not support this position. According to the IRS, in 2016, the top 1 percent of income groups paid 37.3 percent of all taxes the IRS collected. The top 5 percent of income groups paid 58.2 percent, and the top 10 percent of income groups paid 69.5 percent. The bottom 50 percent paid just 3 percent of all taxes collected. The wealthy are not just paying their fair share, they’re paying almost everyone’s share.

For decades now, there has been a trend in this country to place a greater tax burden on the wealthy. In 1981, the bottom 95 percent of income groups paid about 64 percent of all taxes collected, whereas the top 1 percent paid about 19 percent of all taxes collected. Things sure have changed.

If we continue punishing people for being too successful in order to satisfy the hunger of a bloated and wasteful government, we may find a lot fewer people willing to pursue success. America produces an amazing amount of wealth, and the wisest financial decisions are made when people are spending their own money. The more money we hand over to bureaucrats, the more we can expect to see this nation’s incredible wealth squandered. If you’re among those to get a refund this year and decide to treat yourself to something nice, it likely won’t be an $800 coffee mug.

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