It's that time of year again, when competing interests play battle of the press release on taxes. The goal is to capture taxpayers' allegiance during that brief period when his attention is focused on his tax burden, as he fills out tax forms and, often, writes large checks to state and federal governments. Both sides play this game.
One longtime player is the Tax Foundation, which annually calculates Tax Freedom Day. Its assumption is that we pay our taxes from the first dollar we earn each year. When we have worked enough to pay all our taxes for the year, we are then free to work for ourselves. According to the latest study, Americans could start to keep all their earnings on April 11 this year, the earliest date since passage of the Kennedy tax cut in the 1960s. This represents a sharp reduction from the last year of the Clinton administration, when Tax Freedom Day fell on May 2.<p> Other countries also calculate their Tax Freedom Days. According to the Adam Smith Institute in London, Tax Freedom Day in Britain falls on May 30. The Fraser Institute in Vancouver calculated Canada's Tax Freedom Day to be June 28 last year.
After many years when advocates of lower taxes were the primary players in the tax game, the tax increasers are now also vigorous participants. However, since no one likes paying taxes and few want to hear about why they should pay more, the tax increasers have to play the finesse game. Their approach is to dramatize the insufficient taxes paid by fat cats. Those of modest means are thereby led to believe that they would pay less if only the rich paid their "fair share."
Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., has become the point man for liberals looking to make hay on tax day. Back in 1993, he had the U.S. General Accounting Office look at taxes paid by U.S.-based and foreign-based corporations. The report found that a significant percentage of foreign controlled corporations paid no federal income taxes in the United States. But it also showed that many domestic corporations paid no income taxes, either.
Bruce Bartlett is a former senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis of Dallas, Texas. Bartlett is a prolific author, having published over 900 articles in national publications, and prominent magazines and published four books, including Reaganomics: Supply-Side Economics in Action.
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