That time of year we all dread has come and gone again. For most of us filing a tax return is nothing but a headache, a time when we see how much money was taken from us. Some of us dislike filing taxes so much we will even push getting them done to just before the midnight deadline.
Where’d I put the W2s? Which forms should I use? Should I do itemized or standardized deductions? The tax code is a confusing maze that is more and more designed for the rich who are able to hire lawyers and accountants to use the system to their own advantage.
For workers trying to save money on their taxes, the deck is stacked against us. Taxes are designed so that the more money you make, the more money you keep. How many butlers did you have this year? Deduction. Were you able to buy a new house or yacht? Deduction. Did you buy solar panels or new appliances for your mansion? More deductions. The only way to get a break from taxes is if you made enough and those who make the most money will always get the most breaks.
Workers are shouldering a heavier share of taxes while corporations, more profitable than ever, are getting away with robbery. It used to be that corporations were taxed at a higher rate than individuals, paying $1.50 for every $1.00 we would have to pay. Now corporations pay around 22 cents for every dollar we pay and complain that even this is still too high.
And this only includes the corporations that actually pay anything at all. The reality is that corporations will rarely even have to pay this lower rate. Between 2008 and 2010 there were 78 companies that paid nothing in taxes and received money back. And during this time, the 280 most profitable companies got $224 billion of our money in subsidies. This means corporations are able to rob us twice: once with our low wages and then again when our tax money ends up in their pockets.
In the beginning of the year, taxes on the rich were raised four percent from 35 percent, but this increase was nothing but a joke. Taxes on the ultra wealthy during the 1970’s were at a peak of 71 percent – and they were still considered the wealthy. Even with this slight tax increase, workers still end up paying more in taxes. For workers 35 percent of our wages is a huge loss, especially when we’re barely scraping by as it is. But for millionaires and billionaires, they’re still left with more money than they can even spend.
In 2012, the richest people in the world had an estimated $21 trillion just sitting in offshore accounts – this is completely untaxed income. This is more money than the entire economies of the U.S. and Japan combined. Much of this money held offshore belongs to wealthy people who live in the U.S., and about $10 trillion is hidden by U.S. banks.
As April comes and goes, and we tally up all the money that was taken from us, we can’t help but wonder where it all goes? Last year, for every dollar in taxes we paid, about 48 cents was spent on the military and war. About eight cents of every dollar went to government agencies to pay their salaries and pay some of the interest on the national debt. But only 40 cents for every dollar is left to pay for any of the services we actually need.
And now, all we hear from the politicians, both Republicans and Democrats, is how much further they want to cut these amounts. The latest discussions are about how deep they are ready to cut Social Security and Medicare and other forms of assistance to working families.
Tax day is no different than how our society works all of the time. We do all the work, we generate all the wealth – but we don’t see any of the benefits. Everything that we want our taxes to be used for is being sacrificed while our money is handed over to corporations and the rich. Tax day is the robbery that returns every year.