Taxes are not a cause to cel­e­brate

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

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

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