By Mark David Blum, Esq.
Yesterday, I finished my taxes and was staring at that number; the amount I have to send in to the IRS in April. I do not like the number. It is going to hurt. The more I stared at the number the more I realized that despite the hardship in giving up that number and the effort it took just to bring it in, it is a very insignificant number. It is a number that in all practical reality barely covers the cost of the Presidential toilet paper. Nice to know that my tax dollars go to a worthy cause. It is also a number that is greater than many folks earn in a year.
Where my mind fishtails and spins wildly out of control is like when driving on a cold frozen snowy winter morn such as this, when you approach a stop sign or red light, and you try to stop, and your tires and brakes say “not happening”, and you begin that slow end around spin with no steering or brakes to change the trajectory. That lump you get in your chest as you wait for the impact you see inevitably coming: That is how I felt as I looked at the number. I don’t want to give up the money.
I guess I should consider myself lucky because I have to send in money. It could be worse; I could be entitled to a refund or no payment at all. These in and of themselves are not bad things. But having to send in a payment speaks to a level of financial success we managed to put together. This is a good thing and the only justification for which I work so hard. Having to pay taxes is one of those barometers in life that reveal how far a person has moved along. It is not a judgment on a person; just on their financial performance.
There is no shame in being a taxpayer. Every dime I owe, I should pay. Not one penny more. I do so willingly too. The military, the judiciary, the fact that I wake up each morning without worry that my government remains intact and the nation safe are among the reasons I consider my tax payment a fair trade and something for which I willingly pay what is demanded of me. Not every person in every nation has that kind of security.
But knowing as I do that my contribution will pay things like presidential pens, congressional Styrofoam coffee cups, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Korea, the War on Drugs, hearings ad naseum about birth control, failed health plans, Issa's endless investigations, studying the sex lives of HIV positive hookers, and breath mints, hand towels, laundry service, health care and pension benefits to congressfolks, I just want to scream. Near twenty trillion dollar national debt; an amount so large the human mind is incapable of conceiving of such a number. More than a trillion dollars a year above and beyond the earned income of the federal government is being spent or pledged. I look at this number I have to pay the IRS and I just cringe.
I feel hopeless. I feel small and insignificant. No lobbyist is on my payroll. Elected ones have no interest in me other than hoping I give them a job for the next few years. They will raise millions for jobs that pay so disproportionally less. But even though I am one of the folks who actually writes the checks, I have no value and very little if anything is ever done in my name. I cant remember the last the time a sitting President, government employee, or Congressperson called me personally to chat and seek my advice about some issue or another. I am a smart guy. But I am the 99% so my voice is never heard.
There are people and entities out there in AmericaLand whose mandatory payments to the IRS far far exceed my own in both total number of zeroes as well as in greater proportion of their savings after a year’s business. It does appear however, to this untrained non economist that the larger the dollar amount actually paid to the IRS, the lesser that dollar amount is as a percentage of actual residue of the previous year’s performance. There is something wrong that is observable about the unfair tax structure. Although if I complain about it, legislators would probably use and dispose of more scrap paper, staples, copies, ink, and secretary time in just a few hours that would be paid for by my paltry payment to sit around and try and find a solution to the problem. There are also plenty of folks out there earning vast more than do I and who should be paying huge sums but don't. This is a pay to play system and it is rude to play and not pay.
So we do nothing but the same thing only more of it because it costs more to keep doing the same things over and over year after year. I don’t know where the government is getting its money but I hope it is from people who pay far more than me. It kills me to have to send in this money under penalty of imprisonment. It is just going to be thrown away and have no value to the government. Trust me, I want to make a difference. Yet I realize my payment makes no difference at all. What, a few boxes of bullets and a hammer?
To me, the sum total of this money I am going to send in has great value and would make such a dramatic difference in my family’s life. To have to give it to this government, the government … well, next time they dry their hands in some taxpayer funded bathroom, I hope people remember that I could have been the one who paid for the paper towels. Try not to use so many next time