Thursday, February 3, 2011

This Is Certainly Depressing

I must be a glutton for punishment. Apparently a massive head cold, lack of sleep, and too many hours at work isn't depressing enough for me. For some reason I decided to ponder the amount of taxes we actually pay now-a-days and the loss of buying power the average American has versus the "good old days."

I've spent hours surfing and googling this crap. I can certainly say it hasn't been a home remedy for this damn cold though. I'm not even going to claim how accurate the figures are that I'm going to throw around in here.  (Naturally, we all know if it's on the "net" it has to be 100% accurate though, right? Right?)

Things have certainly changed over the last 50 years. (That's about the limit of what I've loosely termed researched.) Back in 1960 approximately 30% of the average American's income went to pay taxes on the federal, state, and local level.

Now, (with now being 2009 as the latest figures I found available) approximately 54%-57% of the average American wages now go to taxes. The income figures ranged from $34,000 to $53,000 for the average American worker in this (now) time period. I'm sure some of these figures and numbers can be disputed but the one thing that is clear to me is we're not talking about wealthy people here.

Naturally taxes dollars are going to rise as wages rise. Income in 1960 versus now would dictate that. What's perplexing is that the percentage of what we pay in taxes has almost doubled in approximately 50 years. (That's if you believe the numbers bandied about through several sources I ran into on the net.)

Taxes are also going to rise as the size of government, from local to federal, get bigger as well. I'm also certain the government provides more services now than it did 50 years ago as well. The one thing I question is are we better off now with the taxes we pay than back in 1960? Has bigger government and the services it provides now versus 1960 worth the tax "investment" average American taxpayers shoulder?

Where does this stop? If these figures are even somewhat accurate what percentage of the average Americans income will we be paying for taxes in 25 years, or 50 years from now? I can't fathom this percentage rise as being sustainable for future generations.

It's mind boggling the number of ways tax revenue is collected that the average person doesn't think about. Ultimately all taxes fall on individuals. When the government raises taxes on corporations and businesses it falls on individual tax payers. Corporations are in the business of making money. Whatever they produce is just simply a sideline activity to making a profit. When taxed more, a business raises prices on their services or products, to maintain profit levels. They themselves aren't really bearing the (full) brunt of any tax increases as this eventually gets passed on to the consumer. (And rightly so, because if they were to bear the full cost of tax increases they'd eventually be out of business I'd suspect.)

It could also be argued that a business doesn't always pass on the cost of a tax increase to the consumer. They may also cut back on services or their workforce to cover the expense of rising tax rates. These practices still affect individual taxpayers though. A reduced work force just spreads the tax burden on the fewer employed consumers in this case. As an individual taxpayer you simply can't win ultimately. You shoulder the tax burden.

This post isn't a rant on taxes. Taxes are a necessary evil. I just wish the government had the same mindset that the average American household has. There's a limit on what a household can spend. An individual cannot simply say, "Hey, I'm out of money, give me more to spend", like the government can. (Although this current, or last recession, we experienced can be partly blamed on individuals not living within their means.) Individuals don't have the recourse the government has when they blow through their "household" budgets. As an individual we can't dip into the well for more money like the government can, and does.

Unfortunately we're the well the government dips into for not living within their means. It's simply not sustainable for the future growth of our country and citizens should the percentage of tax dollars continue to rise as they have over the past 50 years. (According to the data I've seen.)

I think I need to go back to bed.


Anonymous said...

I hate tax time. I agree they're a necessary evil but still, ugh. Being self-employed I actually have a higher tax rate, even though my income is less than $35k. So even with all the work-expense write offs and kiddo credit, I still had to pay out serious dough last April. I get annoyed that I'm in that group of people that works but doesn't qualify for help/aid but people who don't work and keep having kids can get whatever they need..argh.

The Reckmonster said...

Yeah, JPT, you need to go back to bed. That WAS depressing. Taxes suck. But, having said that, I am more than glad to pay my share for the privilege of living in this country. But, you do have a point in that the government shouldn't get to "spend" my tax money on shit like rebuilding the infrastructure of a country after we spent a crapton of money blowing it to bits. Not when there are things that need to be done in our OWN damned country.

ChiTown Girl said...

Sheesh....way to ruin my "Snow Day High," dude....

Bouncin' Barb said...

Everything in screwed up when it comes to taxes in this country. Bruce lived on unemployment all year and has to pay taxes. His total income was under 19000. Go figure this one.

darev2005 said...

Yup. Go back to bed, big guy. You are taxing your brain (and mine) and aggravating yourself unnecessarily. Take some more tylenol and a jigger of theraflu and crawl back under the covers. It's the only solution.

SY said...

wow. sometimes it seems easier just to turn a blind eye to what's happening to our country's financial situation but eventually all the bad decisions made at the top affect us at the bottom.. in the form of taxes!

Dazee Dreamer said...

and now, I need a drink. thanks a lot.