Happy (?) Tax Freedom Day

Every year, the Tax Foundation announces:

Tax Freedom Day is 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—individual as well as payroll, sales and excise, corporate and property taxes—and divides them by the nation’s income. In 2017, Americans will pay $3.5 trillion in federal taxes and $1.6 trillion in state and local taxes, for a total tax bill of $5.1 trillion, or 31 percent of national income. This year, Tax Freedom Day falls on April 23, 113 days into the year.

That was Sunday. When is Wisconsin’s Tax Freedom Day?

Wisconsin has the 40th latest Tax Freedom Day, which means this state has the 11th highest federal, state and local taxes as a percentage of income. Only Minnesota and Illinois have higher tax bites out of their income than Wisconsin in the Midwest.

Tax Freedom Day was April 12 in 2010, April 16 in 2011, April 21 in 2012, April 20 in 2013, April 22 in 2014, April 25 in 2015, and April 27 last year. You’ll notice that that is not a positive direction. I would wonder why people vote for Republicans who promise to cut taxes and then don’t cut taxes meaningfully, except that Democrats could not care less about cutting taxes in a remotely meaningful way. (As it is, Republican supporters should ask their Republican elected officials that question.) No, $4.7 billion in tax cuts this decade are not sufficient, and $600 million in the proposed 2017–19 state budget are not sufficient either.

The second time I noted Tax Freedom Day on this blog, I listed what paying nearly $1 out of your $3 in income (as opposed from the 10 percent God asks):

  • A substandard education system. (The fact that there are some above-average schools doesn’t change that reality.)
  • Teacher unions that spread lies during elections. (Though their political power has shrunken in the post-Act 10 world.)
  • A statewide teacher union that pays its management six-digit salaries and pays its employees on average $95,000 per year, almost twice as much as the median family income in this state.
  • An extremely substandard business climate and perennially underperforming economy. (Very small steps have been made in the correct direction, which are the result, again, of our bad tax system.)
  • 3,120 units of government.
  • A political culture that is out of touch with the rest of the planet, let alone the rest of the state.
  • Insufficient political will to change any of these realities.

It is my contention that Wisconsinites overpay for government services, including, yes, schools and the UW System. As I wrote on a previous Tax Freedom Day, think of the worst teacher, the laziest or most incompetent government employee you can think of, or the politician you wouldn’t vote for if he or she were running against Joseph Stalin, and then remember: your taxes are paying his or her salary and (Rolls–Royce-style) benefits.

It is a fact that our quality of life is not improved by government; quite the opposite, in fact. It is also my contention that, rather than rely on one political party to hold the line on taxes and spending, taxpayers need to be protected from elected officials regardless of party (or lack thereof) by enacting constitutional (as opposed to legislative) controls on taxes and spending and requiring referendum approval for all tax increases.

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