Death and more taxes

Don Norvell

Last week, we learned that I will pay $2,013.40 (12.1 percent) of my $16,625 annual income to the government.

This calculation is deceptively low.

Firstly, I forgot to add the miscellaneous sales taxes from my receipts. The total is now $2,066.32, or 12.4 percent.

Another shortcoming of the previous analysis is the first quarter did not include any family gatherings. Thus, my projections of gasoline taxes, beer taxes and sales taxes are too low. I will also pay tolls on the Ohio and Indiana turnpikes for these gatherings.

Furthermore, fast food franchises, gas stations and convenience stores typically do not give receipts for cash purchases. Even when I do use my debit card for fast food, the receipt does not always itemize the sales tax — I am uncertain of what fast food, if any, qualifies as the real food exempt from sales taxes under ORC 5739.02. In short, miscellaneous sales taxes are underestimated.

I have been unusually frugal during the first quarter, further underestimating sales taxes. Being single also minimizes sales taxes, beer taxes and cigarette taxes.

Since I am technically a state employee, I am exempt from the Federal Insurance Contributions Act due to the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System. As a student, I am simultaneously exempt from OPERS. My private sector counterparts lose an additional 7.65 percent under FICA (26 USC 3101).

Additionally, my landlord never answered my request to know how much of my rent goes towards property taxes.

Lastly, the sticker price on everything I buy has hidden business taxes built into it, and I cannot account for them with any respectable degree of accuracy.

Do I have the right to complain?

Since I have voted every year since I turned 18, I damn well do!

More to the point, my 12.4 percent provable loss is not too high, but I am a single guy. There remains the possibility that families are provably getting screwed. Perhaps, I shall redo this project next year using my sister as an example.

No one was more surprised than me to learn that I am not a provable victim of wallet rape. All of my underestimates may very well add up to some obscene amount. I still do not know with certainty how badly I may be getting screwed.

A more fundamental point to this column is the complexity of tax laws. I had to spend a good portion of my spring break trying to make sense out of a document four times longer than the Bible just to derive the little bit I presented last week.

Shouldn’t a free society have laws simple enough that any high school graduate can understand them? I cannot imagine the infinite tedium of a more complete analysis.

Our government should only tax earned income or retail sales. This way, everyone will know exactly how much money they lose to the government, whether by annual tax returns or adding receipts. We then can help the poor with either generous personal deductions or with exemptions for food, clothing and utilities.

Simple is good. The tax laws alone are just cause to kill all the lawyers.

Don Norvell is a physics graduate assistant and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].