Thursday, April 17, 2014

Tax Day

Just a couple reminders as you ponder your recently completed income taxes:

  1. You only get a refund if you overpay your taxes.  What you are really doing is giving the government an interest free loan and putting money into a savings account that doesn't pay you any interest.  It isn't free money or something to be celebrated.  This year, change your withholding so that you don't end up getting more than a few hundred dollars back and set up an automatic withdrawal into an investment or savings account at your bank.  If you have the discipline, take the difference each month and buy some silver down at the local coin shop to stash away.  It is a good hedge against inflation.
  2. The number you should be looking at each year is "taxes due", not amount refunded or still owing.  This is what you pay the federal government each year.  You may wish to think about what you could have done with that money and whether you got a better deal from the federal government.  What are they spending your money on?  
  3. The federal government also borrowed about $3000 last year in your name.  Yes,that is your share of last years deficit.  Either you or your kids will have to pay it back.  Add $3000 to whatever you paid in taxes.  Was it worth it?  Are you getting good return on your money?
You may not know this, but when the 16th Amendment was being debated it was suggested that it include a cap of 5% for income tax to prevent the federal government from ever taking more than 5% of a person's money.  The idea was ridiculed as irrelevant and unnecessary.  After all, the opponents cried, why would the government ever want to take more than 5%?  What percent tax bracket are you in?

Worth remembering sometimes, when you think about how much the federal government spends and on what programs, that the states came first.  The federal government is a creation of the states, not the other way around.  This country was founded in a way that was supposed to allow the people of the various states to try out different ways to doing things.  If things weren't working out in one state, people could more easily change direction.  If they couldn't change the direction they could leave and move to another.  Where do you move to when the federal government does everything to everyone and takes your money at the point of a gun to do it?  What recourse do you have?

Maybe it's time to return that power to the states and shrink the federal government down to its original purposes.  If spending programs are really necessary they could just (if not more) effectively be run through the states, returning control and accountability closer to where it should be.  The people.

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