Death and taxes, but mostly taxes

Don Norvell

I do my own taxes.

Even if I were rich enough to hire my own tax accountant, I would still do my own taxes just because I get a masochistic thrill from reading the 2.8 million-word Internal Revenue Code.

Do you wonder how much money the government takes from you?

I decided to find out. I saved all of my receipts for the first quarter of 2005, and the stipend for my assistantship is set in stone. Here is my calculation of government-caused losses based upon the letter of the United States Code (USC) and Ohio Revised Code (ORC).

My gross adjusted income is $16,625.

For federal income taxes, I get a deduction of $5,000 (26 USC 26) and an exemption of $3,200 (26 USC 151). Of my $8,425 taxable income, $7,000 is taxed at 10 percent and $1,425 at 15 percent (26 USC 1) yielding $913.75 in taxes.

For Ohio income taxes, I get exemptions of $1,350 (ORC 5747.025) and $20 (ORC 5747.022). Of my $15,255 taxable income, $5,000 is taxed at 0.743 percent, $5,000 at 1.486 percent, $5,000 at 2.972 percent and $255 at 3.715 percent (ORC 5747.02) costing me $269.52.

The city of Kent imposes a flat tax of 2 percent without deductions = $332.50.

During this quarter, I purchased 46.154 gallons of gasoline, which predicts 184.616 gallons for the year. Chapter 5735 of the ORC describes a complex formula to determine the gasoline tax, but reports $0.26 per gallon. The federal tax is $0.183 per gallon (26 USC 4081). That’s another $81.78 this year.

Taxes on my phone bill will total $64.32 this year. My cable bill is taxed $36 per year. Utilities are exempt from sales taxes under ORC 5739.02.

Cigarettes are double taxed. The sales taxes for the quarter are $9.17, predicting $36.68 for the year. The excise taxes are $0.39 (26 USC 5701) plus $0.55 (ORC 5743.02) per pack. Excise taxes for an estimated 200 packs = $188. Total cigarette taxes = $224.68.

Beer is taxed based upon its packaging — bottles or kegs. When I buy bottles, there is $0.0168 per bottle excise tax (ORC 4301.42), plus sales taxes. The sales taxes listed on my receipts is $3.10 predicting $12.40 per year. Buying 42 bottles this quarter predicts 168 for the year adding $2.82. In bars, the sticker price contains excise taxes of $0.60 per gallon (26 USC 5051) and $0.18 per gallon (ORC 4305.01). I predict 8 gallons of beer this year. That $3.50 per pint also includes sales taxes. My total beer taxes will be $36.60.

I also will pay $44.50 to register my car. Since e-check is every other year, I’ll add half the fee, $9.75.

My total tax burden, to the best I can prove, is $2013.40 or 12.1 percent.

This is a gross underestimate!

For my insightful commentary on this project, tune in next week. Same tax time; same tax channel.

Don Norvell is physics graduate assistant and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Send your complaints to [email protected].