Today is Tax Freedom Day in Ohio. The Tax Foundation calculates Tax Freedom Day by taking the official government tally of all taxes collected in a particular year and dividing it by the official government tally of all income earned in that year. That calculation yields a percentage, and that percentage, with some adjustments, is then applied against the calendar to determine how many days Americans need to work before they pay off their tax burden for the year. This year, in Ohio, Tax Freedom Day arrives today.
Paying taxes is part of a citizen’s obligation in a free society. Our federal, state, and local governments all provide services that must be paid for, and taxes are the mechanism for making that payment. Many of these governmental services are essential to our country and our culture. Local governments provide police and fire protection, public schools, and other services at the community level — stuff we don’t think much about, like trash pick-up and removing dead animals from roadways. States provide additional necessary services, like highways, prisons, and institutions of higher education. The federal government is responsible for our national defense, for foreign relations, and other activities that can only be logically addressed at the national level.
I’ve been known to complain about taxes from time to time, and I just want to say that I don’t object to the concept of taxes. No modern American would want to live in a lawless society, or one without roads and bridges, or one where children go uneducated. We all have a shared obligation to contribute to paying for what the government provides to us. What I object to, rather, is the waste of tax dollars on inessential matters and the increasing inability of governmental entities at all levels to live within the “budget” established by tax receipts.
Americans pay a lot in taxes — according to the Tax Foundation, more than they spend on food, shelter, and clothing combined. It takes more than three months to free Americans from that tax burden. That seems like a significant work effort by the American people to me, and one that should be more than enough to pay for the essential services that we all support. It is the job of our elected representatives to make the tough choices that make that happen.