Sunday, April 19, 2015

Tax basics: better late than not at all

Last week for Tax Day, my friend Kim Klein published an article jammed full of tax facts that we all could do well to remember all year long. She teaches fundraising, so much of her advice is directed to people who ask others for money. But we would all be better off for knowing some basics:

  • Seventy percent of Americans file a short form and, thus, do not get to deduct their donations.
  • Suggesting that a benefit of giving away money is that the government has less money [because of deductability] should not be attractive except to anti-government ideologues.
  • ... any human being who lives in the United States and, from time to time, walks on the sidewalk, drives on a road, eats in a clean restaurant, takes the escalator instead of the stairs, or drinks clean water from a faucet, is the recipient of some of the good that taxes do. There is a giant infrastructure that makes life in this country possible, from ambulances to fire departments to public schools to national parks and more—all made possible by taxes.
  • The nonprofit sector is asked to pick up the pieces caused by poor tax policy.  Cuts in food stamps?  No problem—the food pantries will take care of that.  Terrible public schools?  No problem—PTAs will raise money for art program, music and libraries.  A minimum wage that does not keep you out of poverty?  That’s ok.  Nonprofits will fill in the gaps.

    We have been asked to do more and more with less and less for decades.  We need to stop doing that.

The whole piece is worth reading, including a very short, very clear history of the income tax in the United States.

2 comments:

tina a Lebanese in Beirut said...

"we need to encourage people to be proud of the taxes we pay."
As a non-US citizen it is obvious to me that US citizens can/should be proud of the taxes they pay if/when they manage to stop the usage of these taxes for killing people and destroying countries. Isn't it thanks to those taxes that you have by far the largest military budget on the planet. The Peter G. Peterson Foundation states that the US spends more on "defense" than China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, UK, Germany, Japan, India combined. It comes from the taxes you pay, right?
http://pgpf.org/Chart-Archive/0053_defense-comparison

janinsanfran said...

Right you are Tina -- largest military budget, blithely killing away. Also being ripped off by greedy contractors. And those selling enthusiastically to every thuggish regime our rulers momentarily favor. We're a menace to the world

And wierdly, we'd be even more of a menace if/when ruled by the right wingers striving to break the tax system ...

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