Common Sense and Tax Reform – by CA Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez

“I love America, but I can’t spend the whole year here. I can’t afford the taxes.” – Mick Jagger.

That’s how so many Americans feel, that they just can’t afford the taxes. But most of us don’t have the luxury of simply living part time in another country to avoid paying excessive tax rates.

The argument about which model for taxation is best is as varied as choices of boxed cereal. Some want to tax the wealthy more. Some want to hand out more tax exemptions. Some want no taxation, and some argue a flat tax is the best approach for all. I tend to agree with the latter.

Nevertheless, the conversation on how/if we should be taxed is often overshadowed by who is doing the talking.  When the left speaks of taxes, it goes something like this: “No tax cuts for the rich! The wealthy aren’t paying their fair share!” Never mind the fact that this is complete and utter nonsense, the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes and then some.

The difference between the average worker and the wealthy, with respect to paying taxes, is that the wealthy can put their money into tax-exempt securities to avoid paying higher taxes. The average man or woman has no such option because they need most of their paycheck to go toward paying the bills. And while unlike the wealthy, the lower wage worker gets most if not all of their money back at the end of the year in the form of a tax refund, that doesn’t really help them when the car payment is due now.

Raising tax rates on the wealthy might seem fair to some. It might even seem like the most efficient way to raise revenue without hurting the poor. But the fact is the wealthy can afford tax accountants who know how to keep their clients’ money out of the hands of the government.

And who can blame them? Everyone would rather keep the money they work for rather than hand it over to the government to waste on things like the study the National Science Foundation conducted on why politics stresses us out. Thousands of tax dollars were spent to study something that I could have told them for free: we are stressed out about the government spending our money in ways we find wasteful, like, for instance, your study of why we’re stressed out.

It’s pretty simple. We know that when you raise taxes, less money is floating around in the private economy, because we have less of it to spend.

Those on the right have all sorts of ideas about taxation too, largely in the form of exemptions and cuts, and there appears to be no agreement on that side as to the best path forward either.

I’ll use the example of my own children to show how the maturity level of too many politicians on taxes is on par with 9 year olds.

Our 2 youngest boys, at the ages of 9 and 10, wanted to make some money. Too young to get a “real job”, they opted to sell lemonade. We discussed the start-up costs associated with this childhood classic, going as far as looking the prices up online and calculating the initial cost.

What they didn’t factor in were taxes. They looked in shock at the cashier when she told them their total. It was more than they brought with them, because they didn’t realize the government wanted a slice of their pie. Our youngest son rejected the notion that he should pay “extra” for his supplies, and said “But I’m just a kid, I don’t even make a lot of money! It’s not fair!”

He learned a valuable lesson that day, grudgingly to be sure as he was relentless in explaining the whole way home why the government should keep their “big fat stupid hands off his money”.  But his reaction is not so unlike that of many when they get their paycheck.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the government stopped tipping the taxation scales to favor one group over another, and did something that accomplishes the task of raising enough revenue to pay only for the things for which government is responsible, while ensuring the rest of us keep more of the money we earn?

With all the tinkering around with tax rates over the years, we still have yet to reach consensus on what is best for the country.  But we do know that Americans are sick and tired of being taxed to death. And the proof lies in the results of our latest Presidential election. Now that we have a new President, we must insist that the same old tactics are not employed. No more class warfare, no more redistributing wealth, no more taxing success and subsidizing failure.

It’s time to make reforming the tax code in a way that benefits all, not just some, a reality.





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