“Tax the Farmer, Tax his Plow, …

,,, tax him when he wipes his brow.” And thus begins a long, old poem about the pervasive nature of taxes. You can find the full version on the web if you want to commiserate. Another, much shorter but equally relevant rhyme goes like this, “Don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax that man behind the tree!” The first poem suggests that our government can and will tax anything they can think of, and if they don’t call it a tax it will probably masquerade as something else, like maybe a user fee. The second poem points to the use of diversion in making taxes palatable: the people creating the taxes will always try to make it look like it affects someone else (e.g., the rich, or maybe those big, impersonal corporations) even though the cost of the tax will probably find its way back to you sooner or later.

Come to think of it, I think many of our tax-loving politicians would do well in a second career as a magician. They really are very good at diversions, subterfuge, and smoke and mirrors.

With these introductory comments behind us, you might like to skim through the summary of our state and local taxes portrayed in the article linked below:

The article bears careful scrutiny because it tries to lump together state and local taxes that include income tax, sales tax, capital gains tax, inheritance tax, property tax, and possibly other kinds of taxes. It suggests, but does not fully explain, that some of these taxes can be progressive (e.g., tax rates go up as income goes up) while others are either a flat rate or are regressive (e.g., sales tax on the necessities of life will hit low-income people harder than high-income people).

At face value, user fees hit only those who use what ever it is being taxed, but then if they pass the cost of the fee along to others (by embedding it in their prices), we all wind up carrying the load. And this, of course, shows the fallacy of taxing companies and not expecting those taxes to be passed along to consumers. A company will regard its tax burden as part of its cost of doing business, and all of those costs have to be covered by income or else the company will gradually bleed dry and go out of business. So, one way or another, someone has to pay the tax bill. And it will be you and me, AND the man behind the tree.

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