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Opinion

Paying taxes shows financial stability

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April 21, 2011

Every year, the taxman cometh.  This year he came a few days later than usual, on Monday April 18.  Typically he comes to the door on April 15, but the powers that be decided celebration of Emancipation Day should not be squelched by the horrors of paying one’s dues to our government. 

Although Tax Day has become a long-standing tradition in our country. It was not born along with the United States.  The first federal income tax was collected as a part of the Revenue Act of 1861 in order to pay for the Civil War. 

The Act placed a flat tax of three percent on any individual with an income greater than $800, or roughly $19,000 today.  A three percent income tax?  Pretty sure you wouldn’t here any complaints about that today.  However, that first little tax was not long-lived. 

The Revenue Act of 1862 put the kibosh on the flat tax and lowered the minimum income requirement for paying taxes.  1862 instituted the country’s first progressive tax with a three percent tax on those making at least $600 and a five percent tax on those with an income exceeding $10,000, or about $215,000 today.

Even with the increasingly oppressive tax code, U.S. citizens of 1862 still had a promised light at the end of the tunnel.  The Revenue Act of 1862 and the Federal income tax were to expire without renewal in 1866.  We know now taxes do not expire.  They are the only immortal. 

Being college students, I and many of you enjoy tax season.  According to our government, we do not make enough money to warrant being taxed.  Thus, we get refunds. 

Many of our parents do not.  Empty nesters by definition no longer have dependants and often don’t have mortgages to exempt them from paying up and paying in.  As a result they pay for the majority of our government.  This fact is often looked upon with a scowl, as punishment.  I argue it should be viewed as an accomplishment. 

Once you begin paying in you have “made it” to the point where you are no longer a dependant of Uncle Sam.  You are now truly self-sufficient.  Mind you, when it comes to taxes I still feel less is more, but someone will always have to pay something and those who do should feel a sense of pride. 

When you go home this weekend for the annual Easter family gathering, first thank your parents, aunts and uncles for paying for your share of the tax pool, and then remind them that paying in is not a penalty, but merely a side effect of success.  If nothing else you’ll rile some emotions and cease the boredom for a little while.