Taxation Taxation Taxation

I wouldn't consider myself a radical of any sort. I don't feel I'm always conservative or liberal. I don't fit categories like that very well.

I received an interesting letter from my local city government stating that I owed them $268.91 in back taxes from the year 2001. Truth is, I probably do. No one bothered to tell me that there was ANOTHER government organization other than state of federal that would be slurping off my cash. But it got me thinking: Why do we pay so many different governments so much money? It's insane. This is ONE nation, not 50 or 100 or 1,000. So I pay Federal, State, County, and City taxes. What a crock!

A few years ago I started using Quicken. I was obsessive about it. I kept track of everything. I mean everything!! Each receipt that I got was categorized by item. Clothing, groceries, car maintenance, gas, income tax, social security taxes, sales tax, etc. Everything was sorted... It was stunning! Of course, I eventually stopped doing it because it consumed every drop of time I had.

The result was allowed me to see exactly what percentage of the money I brought in went to the government. It didn't include things like gasoline excise tax because I just wasn't that anal, and truthfully I didn't want to know more. Anyway, back to the nitty gritty. I'll just blurt out what I'm sure you want to know. That year (1998) we (my wife and I) paid a total of 58% in taxes of various sorts. That's not a typo. that fifty-eight. A five and an eight with a big fat squiggly percent sign. For those of you still having a hard time understand, that means that for every dollar that we earned (we weren't well off at all) 58 cents of it went to taxes. Isn't that ridiculous? Amazingly enough, after our refund that only went down to around 56%. So more than HALF of the money I earned, I didn't even get to keep.

Now, I don't mind paying my fair share, but that was crap. So it got me thinking about what services I actually receive for my time and effort. There's a lot, of course. Then it got me thinking about what exactly those City taxes are going to. See, I also live in what is called a 6th class city -- and I pay taxes here too. I realized that my city pays the metro government (the county) for police services. But part of my taxes that I pay the metro government also goes to pay for the Metro police department. So shouldn't my 6th class city get police service then?

So that's the kind of thing that of course just torques me off. I'm paying for the same service TWICE. It's not bad enough that I'm getting reamed, now I pay for things twice. Here's my idea. Each person only pays taxes to ONE entity. You pay it to the lowest level of government that has your jurisdiction. For me, that would be my 6th class city. Then your jurisdiction takes that money, and purchases services from it's higher jurisdiction, including State and Federal government. Your local government gets to choose which services it would like to provide itself, and what it needs to purchase from your higher government. My city would purchase police services from the county Metro government, but would provide trash pickup service itself. Some other city that is larger may decide they'd rather hang onto their money and have their own police force. That's fine! Of course, some services are obligatory such as paying for national defense, and many Federal-level services. Many of those services just don't fit into this scale.

I realize to some extent, this is the way it works now, the distribution of funds is just done at the paycheck level, but I think that's where many problems lie -- such as me paying twice for the same service. Plus the fact that paying taxes is just so flipping irritating -- why would I have to file so may tax returns? Federal, State, and Metro? I should just fine ONE form to my municipality and the rest is taken care of. As an added bonus, the smaller municipalities will have all that cash in their coffers for a bit, gaining interest, until they use it to purchase the various services or pay state and federal "dues". Nice, eh?

I'm sure there are blatant holes to this that someone else will point out, but you know what? There's holes in the system now. They're HUGE. Top on my list is that the government is getting more of each dollar that I worked for than I get, and I don't think I'm getting enough in return.