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Thread: On the inevitable (not death) - Taxation or A workers lament

  1. #1
    just dont think about it mhc's Avatar
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    On the inevitable (not death) - Taxation or A workers lament

    Well it is the end of another financial year meaning it is also time again for one to submit a tax return - or whatever you call it in your neck of the woods. A couple of years back, while working through my particulars for that year, it occurred to me that with an average tax rate of 30% i am effectively working for the government for four months of the year. Now, you might be inclined to think that to live in a developed society with things such as safety, freedom and healthcare to name but a few, costs money. And indeed it does. We have roads to maintain, schools and hospitals to run, police and emergency services. All this costs money. So I guess what i am asking you is, is all that, worth four months of your life, every year?

    No doubt it is likely impossible to answer, for how would you know what life would be like without taxes? It may also be found that, to work for the government for four months of the year, every year, is but a small price to pay to live in the types of societies that tax has helped build. So, perhaps every time i pay my due tax on petrol when i fill my car, I should rejoice in the fact I am paying for the roads on which i am about to drive. Or that when i am charged my healthcare levy, on top of paying for my compulsory health insurance, i should be relieved that a team of professional doctors, who have worked hard to pay for their education, are on standby should the need arise. I should be ecstatic, for those cases when taxation has not prevailed, that structured fees on things like power, water and communications are able to cover the cost of the infrastructure and maintenance to provide said services, as well as provide profit to the people and companies who own them. I should quietly smile, every time I purchase something and pay a Goods and Service Tax. And, every night that i sit down for dinner, knowing that with every pay check that i am deserving of each week, i have yet another chance to pay yet some more tax.

    I should also be thankful, that each time a government of the day wishes to spend tax to gain votes, win favor or help out a friends business and has not yet collected enough taxes, that i know in the future i will be able to help cover that burden by paying more tax to cover the accrued interest debt on the spending of taxes that have not yet been collected. I should feel a sense of achievement when, new military technologies are created and purchased with the taxes i helped contribute to, and when i see those technologies in use on the television, i should think to myself, i played a part in that, with my hard work, blood, sweat and tears, i helped buy that.

    again, i should feel relieved that with the busy work life i lead, and the increased work load that is placed on me continuously, that social engineers have access to the tax i have payed, to enable them to create a society for me that i am too busy to even think about myself. and for the police and judges, who help uphold the laws of society, laws which have been determined in my best interest by people who dont know me, nor have ever met me, and particularly for the laws which help protect taxation, lest i slip from my best judgment and do not pay enough tax.

    So i guess i am blessed, knowing that by the time i reach retirement age, i would have worked about sixteen years - equating to over 40000 hours of my life for the government, in a society that i am too busy working to have to worry about, one that has been predetermined for me, and which i have helped fund, every day i go to work.
    Last edited by mhc; 07-06-2014 at 03:36 PM.
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  2. #2
    Now we know... Asteroids Champion ACow's Avatar
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    Technically, for a real analysis, you need to subtract benefits from costs...which also brings down the total of 4 months per year worked just for taxes substantially...

    And do you really pay an average of 30c? For instance, my marginal tax rate is 37%, but my average tax is probably in the 20%'s even without taking benefits into account. I suppose it depends on how you account for it (consumption taxes, petrol taxes, taxes on my interest, levies, payroll, compulsory programs etc...).

    Don't get me wrong, our tax system is pretty bad, but Australian's don't actually get taxed that much...which is one of the problems with trying to run a balanced budget now...

    /Personally, I think our house prices (and subsequently our private debt levels, and number of hours needed to work for shelter) are a bigger problem...
    Last edited by ACow; 07-06-2014 at 10:10 PM.

  3. #3
    just dont think about it mhc's Avatar
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    just on payrol tax i am at about 25% (avg).

    You raise a good point on the cost of housing. i place a lot of blame on banks and the idea of lending money, if people could not borrow money and had to buy houses with only money they could save, the price of housing would be significantly lower and they therefore would also be less attractive for investors, which would also help to keep prices low.

    i will reserve my rant on banks for another post however, for the tyranny and evil that they perpetuate is deserving of it, i think.
    Just look at the blue sky

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    I have no problem with the amount of taxes I pay or what I get in return for them. I would prefer that my government spend more of my taxes on education and social programs than defense, but I think I'm pretty lucky to be where I am so I'm not complaining.

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    Global Moderator Polemarch's Avatar
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    There are two distinct questions being raised, which each require a response:

    1. Is taxation (of any amount) appropriate?

    Yes, I think taxation is needed, insomuch as some form of government is needed to address collective action problems, such as common defense, infrastructure, police/fire/utilities, and several other obvious functions. In a free market system, government must have a means to generate the revenue needed to pay for all of that, so taxation would seem to be the most logical way. This doesn't address the format of that tax - merely the need for some sort of tax.

    2. Am I taxed appropriately?

    This is a far more normative question with an answer for every perspective. Everyone would rather pay a smaller share than they do. High earners would argue that basic services like common defense and police apply equally on a per citizen basis, thus arguing for a regressive tax structure. Low earners would argue that the marginal utility of money is significantly higher for low earners, thus from the standpoint of marginal utility, the rich should pay a much higher proportionate share (i.e. a progressive tax structure). Collectivists would argue in favor of nationalization of certain resources, or a full command economy, to generate the revenues (or produce the fiat) needed to fund government.

    No one wants to pay as much as they do - so rather than advocating what I think "should" happen, I'll just say that whatever tax structure ultimately leads to a maximization of GDP while preserving the stability of the system - should be the tax structure implemented.
    We didn't land on Plymouth Rock. Plymouth Rock landed on us.

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    Senior Member jyng1's Avatar
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    Apparently 49% of Americans pay no federal tax at all, so maybe they might be the exception to those who don't want to pay as much tax as they do.

  7. #7
    Mens bona regnum possidet ferrus's Avatar
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    I the UK, the degree to which the government is beholden to the rich non-doms in London, and the Square Mile, has ensured that whilst your average employee is pretty highly taxed, and the more so if you earn less thanks to relatively high VATs, capital gains is pretty low. I've often pondered this and realised that ultimately there are far less recourses for the typical employee to use an exit strategy, which gives them less power.
    Die Logik ist keine Lehre, sondern ein Spiegelbild der Welt. Die Logik ist transcendental. - Wittgenstein

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    Now we know... Asteroids Champion ACow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by starla View Post
    I have no problem with the amount of taxes I pay or what I get in return for them. I would prefer that my government spend more of my taxes on education and social programs than defense, but I think I'm pretty lucky to be where I am so I'm not complaining.
    Mmm. From my own personal perspective, I'd actually be happy with a slightly higher rate of tax. Ideally i'd like aforementioned tax increases to be met with policy changes targeting expenditure more towards basic incomes, education, and housing, with better targeting of those services to those in poverty and genuine need, and away from defense, corporate subsidies and middle class welfare.

    So far I feel I've pretty much won life's lottery. Society basically provides me with everything I could reasonably want right now, though I'm not so wealthy as I cannot quickly fall into the realms of the unemployed and penniless, and i do not own property or sufficient assets in that regard.

    There's few things I find more distasteful than hearing upper-middle class/upper-class people complain about how highly taxed they are in this country, not in the least because its empirically wrong.

    So far be it from me to bitch about paying a bit extra to serve those less fortunate...unfortunately, that's not where the funding is going at the moment, so you know, that fucks things up a bit even if i did want to help...

    I feel my society has lost view of any social contract amongst the "upper classes". Now don't get me wrong, I've always been, and still remain, a denialist that there is any such thing as a social contract. But for a comfortable, stable, prosperous, and admirable society, I realise the upper classes have to act as though there is one. Lose sight of the fact that you are socially supported in your comfort and station, and that you get access to privilege as long as you serve a purpose in serving the rest of society, and everything starts to fall apart...

    In australia right now we've got this huge disconnect between expected taxation rates and expected services provided by the government. It isn't pretty, and its not going to be pretty in the future. The liberal government in the 2000's basically had annual income tax cuts all funded by mining revenue booms. But all booms come to an end, and they were hence by necessity temporary, even though they weren't marketed as such.

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    Senior Member Senseye's Avatar
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    For those who wish to pay more taxes, feel free to move to Canada. Tax freedom day was June 11 in my province this year. Just shy of 50% of my income goes to the government.

    PS> My income tax rate is about the same as mhc's, but don't underestimate the impact of all the other taxes. I've also got property taxes, school taxes, sales taxes, and sin taxes (extra taxes on things like gas, tobacco and booze) to deal with. Not to mention a plethora of government fees and levies for various sundry items I may need at one time or another - driver license fees, building permit fees, ecology levies etc. You name it around here, the government (federal, provincial or civic) will take a cut.

    And of course, the great nirvana of new tax - the carbon tax, is lurking. It's only a matter of time before the government cashes in on this potential bonanza.

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    Meae Musae Servus Hephaestus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jyng1 View Post
    Apparently 49% of Americans pay no federal tax at all, so maybe they might be the exception to those who don't want to pay as much tax as they do.
    They don't pay federal income tax--they still pay taxes to our Social Security program. But the other important thing to remember is that the simplest and most common way for someone to have no federal income tax burden in the US is poverty.
    I'm suspicious of people who say they'll die for a flag but won't wear a mask for their neighbor.

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