That Dreaded Time of Year is Approaching

Those ominous slips of paper are arriving in my mail box, reminding me of the various crumbs of income I received in 2010. I don’t open them. I know what’s inside. I put them in a manila envelope marked TAXES and squirm in anticipated dread. For the next three months I will toss and turn at night, worrying about the approach of April 15.

There has to be something more irritating that the income tax, but I can’t imagine what it might be.

As far as I am concerned, it’s a lousy way for the government to collect revenue.

Someone persuaded the powers that be that a “graduated” income tax is the fairest way to squeeze money out of the population. It allows the government to pretend that rich people pay higher taxes than poor people (as if there still are rich people who don’t have high-powered tax lawyers and accountants to protect their income). So I guess it’s here to stay.

Left to me, there would be no income tax (or corporate tax). The government would get its money from excise taxes and tariffs. The goods we buy would be taxed as close to the source as possible. The corner shopkeeper would be free of the expensive and burdensome chore of collecting sales taxes, and individuals would be free of a horrendous annual bookkeeping chore.

It seems to me that producers and importers are much better equipped to calculate taxes than retailers and income earners. After all, the producers and importers have accounting departments to do that kind of thing.

Appropriate excise taxes on such products as alcohol, tobacco, guns and ammunition would lessen the demand for them and, as a result, reduce the havoc they cause.

And by making tariffs more costly than excise taxes, the government could stop jobs from vanishing overseas. No amount of stimulus spending or investment in innovation and research can revive the domestic economy when everything we buy is made overseas and every new technology is shipped abroad as soon as it is developed.

Of course, the world is moving in the opposite direction. Tariffs are all but obsolete in our “global” economy. This is beneficial to the global corporations, which are making record-high profits. But it’s a disaster for the rest of us, who must take up the slack through higher income taxes and sales taxes.

But what do you expect when corporations can buy elections through massive campaign contributions?

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com

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