It’s Tax Day, well actually YESTERDAY was Tax Day, but due to the competence of the IRS with how they manage their on-line systems, TODAY turns out to be Tax Day. You procrastinators out there should just give a collective Thank You to Steve Mnuchin for the extra grace period.
As you can see from the blog post, I have picked up the Libertarian rallying cry that Taxation is Theft. Oh, good, you’re thinking, another boring post about how the government is stealing your money, and penalizing your ability to earn a living.
Except, I’m not going to do that. Nope. Instead, I am going to show you how many tax payers it takes to pay for a bunch of things we neither want or need.
The IRS estimates that there will be 155 million people paying taxes in 2018. That’s about half the overall population of the US. Those 155 million people have an average taxable (not gross, but taxable) income of about $50,000/yr, with an overall tax burden of about $9000. So, that’s the hard math.
So, what are the lucky 155 million people shelling out on?
Doggie Hamlet, a performance described by the Los Angeles Times as "involv[ing] a flock of sheep, three herding dogs, six human performers, a few scattered pelts, plenty of green grass and very little (if any) Shakespeare." The Times notes that "Narrative threatened to emerge at points in the production but never really took hold. When language was used, it wasn't always easy to discern what was being said. Speech ultimately seemed no more consequential than bleating or barking." This production was granted $45,000 of your taxpayer dollars to be presented. In other words, that's the total tax burden of five of the sort of $50,000-taxable-income folk who probably wouldn’t have gone to see it anyway.
Unused IRS email program. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration reported in 2016 that the IRS had "purchased subscriptions for an enterprise e-mail system that, as it turned out, it could not use.” Yeah, the IRS spent $12 million on an unusable email system. Every dime that 1333 average taxpayers sent to the IRS last year, went to the unused (and unusable) email system.
Federal grazing fees. This program supposedly puts money in the federal coffers, but by the time government is done with it, it tends to spend $120 million a year more than it takes in administering the program, according to a 2015 report from the Center for Biological Diversity. That's the total tax burden of 13,333 Americans with a taxable income of $50,000, who are probably eating more hamburger than ribeye subsidizing the people who raise it.
Public relations, aka making you feel good about what YOUR government is spending money on--$430,000,000 (that’s 430 MILLION DOLLARS) according to a GAO report. It takes every dime from nearly 48,000 average tax payers to pay for that nonsense. 48,000 American taxpayers spending every cent they pay in taxes to be told how awesome the government is. What’s wrong with this picture? 48,000 people. That’s only slightly less than the population of Galveston, TX.
But what about some really big ticket items like transportation infrastructure projects? For example, the US Department of Transportation has just earmarked $1.04 BILLION of your tax dollars to expand San Diego’s trolley system by 10 miles. Now, to be honest, San Diego’s trolley system is rather nice, and it’s not too stinky or crowded. But $1.04 BILLION is the entire tax burden of 115,000 average taxpayers. It takes the entire population of El Monte, CA (just north and east of San Diego) to pay for it!!
The worst part about these examples is that no one is ever held accountable. If you and I engaged in this kind of unwise spending at work, we’d be fired.
But that’s OK, then we can join the ranks of the unemployed and consume the entire tax burden of 50 million average taxpayers. We're just being like Robin Hood, right?
Taxation really is theft.