It is time for our annual observance (more like Roman Catholic martyred-saint days, certainly not a celebration) of Tax Freedom Day, described by the Tax Foundation as …
… the day when the nation as a whole has earned enough money to pay its total tax bill for the year. Tax Freedom Day takes all federal, state, and local taxes and divides them by the nation’s income. In 2016, Americans will pay $3.34 trillion in federal taxes and $1.64 trillion in state and local taxes, for a total tax bill of $4.99 trillion, or 31 percent of national income. This year, Tax Freedom Day falls on April 24th, or 114 days into the year (excluding Leap Day).
But it’s not April 24 for those of us in Wisconsin:
The total tax burden borne by residents of different states varies considerably due to differing state tax policies and the progressivity of the federal tax system. This means a combination of higher-income and higher-tax states celebrate Tax Freedom Day later: Connecticut (May 21), New Jersey (May 12), and New York (May 11). Residents of Mississippi will bear the lowest average tax burden in 2016, with Tax Freedom Day arriving for them on April 5. Also early are Tennessee (April 6) and Louisiana (April 7).
Of course, Wisconsin isn’t a “higher-income” state, though we certainly are a “higher-tax” state, and have always been, as the maps show:
It does make you wonder, however, why we must be sentenced to taxes in the highest quarter of U.S. states when (1) our government services are not to the level of our taxes and never have been, and (2) we are not a wealthy state and never have been, and given our punitive taxes never will be. (Remember: Every corrupt politician, every stupid idea coming from government, and every misstep by government, are all something you’re funding with your taxes.)
Measured another way, we’re still paying for government after today:
Since 2002, federal expenses have surpassed federal revenues, with the budget deficit exceeding $1 trillion annually from 2009 to 2012. In calendar year 2016, the deficit will grow significantly, from $592 billion to $698 billion. If we include this annual federal borrowing, which represents future taxes owed, Tax Freedom Day would occur on May 10, 16 days later. The latest ever deficit-inclusive Tax Freedom Day occurred during World War II on May 25, 1945.
Measured any way, this is ridiculous:
Proof that there is less difference than you might believe between Democrats and Republicans is that the state Legislature, controlled by Republicans as the result of the past three elections, has failed to push forward a Taxpayer Bill of Rights to enact strict constitutional controls on spending and taxes. This is despite the fact that state and local government is literally twice the size it should be, as measured by growth in population and inflation. TABOR is vital in order to prevent future legislators — and someday the Democrats will control the Legislature — from spending more money than we overburdened taxpayers have. We voters are supposed to vote for Republicans because they’re the fiscally responsible party, which is like voting for the GOP because it favors gun rights and Democrats don’t. “Rights,” properly defined, should not be up to one party to defend; rights are protection of citizens from government, which is why government must be permanently limited from spending taxpayer money.
We won’t even discuss a federal balanced budget here, since we’re not writing about fantasy.