Taxes are not a cause to celebrate
Indian Head Vice Mayor Ron Sitoula’s letter, “The most honorable day of the year: Tax Day” in the April 20 edition of the Maryland Independent is a disappointment. Sitoula extols the virtues of taxes, but fails to mention he is a certified public accountant. If the tax code were simplified, many tax accountants would be out of work. There’s a reason the IRS calls them “external stakeholders.” Quite simply, Mr. Sitoula has a stake in the system he praises.
Sitoula says, condescendingly, that tax laws are “complex for ordinary citizens to comprehend. That is why only the will of the Congress alone can determine what is just and fair amount for us to pay.” Maybe tax laws shouldn’t be so “complex for ordinary citizens to comprehend.” And why does their complexity mean that only Congress can decide what is just and fair?
One has nothing to do with the other; and besides, what makes Sitoula think that members of Congress understand federal tax laws? Sen. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) certainly didn’t when he failed to pay taxes on his Dominican villa. He was chairman of the Ways and Means Committee charged with writing our tax laws. Doug Shulman needed a tax preparer, and he was the IRS Commissioner.
If Mr. Sitoula thinks that Congress even reads most of the laws they pass, much less understands them, he is naïve in the extreme. Even if they did, why should politicians with an 11 percent approval rating have the right to tell us what is fair and just? Mr. Sitoula doesn’t appear to get how our system works. Let me spell it out: We are the boss of Congress; they are not the boss of us.
His letter marks him as a typical, out-of-touch politician. In 2014, a Gallup poll showed that 47 percent of Marylanders would leave the state if they could, and taxes were a big factor. That’s the third highest rank out of 50 states. High tax states Illinois and Connecticut were the only ones ranked worse. The message is clear: people don’t like high taxes.
Of the six states where the fewest number of people wanted to leave, two of the six have no state income tax. Coincidence? I doubt it. Paying taxes is a legal obligation, not a reason to party. Thomas Jefferson said “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground.” It certainly is gaining, because federal government expenditures account for 41 percent of GDP.
Mr. Sitoula thinks we get a great return on our taxes in the form of ser vices. Well if that’s so, then why stop at 41 percent? Why shouldn’t government take over our entire economy? Because it’s been tried and it doesn’t work. Our government is already the largest in the histor y of the planet, and real median household incomes are lower than they were in 1999.
Memo to Ron Sitoula: high taxes do not equal high living standards or even quality ser vices. What happens is that wealthy people with high living standards are fooled into supporting high tax rates, and then watch as their government wastes money on unnecessar y programs, projects and studies. As a result, private sector business activity declines and real problems aren’t addressed.
With the highest taxes of any county in Mar yland, Charles County doesn’t even pick up our trash. More importantly, our students test scores are below the state average. Meanwhile, our superintendent of schools earns $300,000 a year to preside over a failing system that she was hired to fix. We have some of the worst gridlock in the nation. We need a U.S. 301 bypass, not an expensive light rail boondoggle.
Ron Sitoula thinks taxes are great; I ran on a tax cut pledge. He loves public schools; I see students being shortchanged and a lack of accountability. He sees the greatness of America, and thanks the state; I thank the people who built this countr y. He sees an “awe-inspiring transportation system,” I see infrastructure crumbling while billions go to fight unnecessar y wars and imaginar y hobgoblins like “climate change.”
I think we need to stop celebrating tax day and get to work fixing our county and our countr y.
Tom deSabla, La Plata