Now that tax day has officially arrived, I thought we should take a few moments to reflect, and say thank you to America’s last remaining taxpayers. This one’s for you, Mr. and Ms. Last Remaining taxpayer.
As the Walmart, Best Buy and Apple Stores begin to flood with countless non-paying tax filers spending their earned income credit, child tax credit and other federal tax refunds -- you are reluctantly cutting a check to the federal government this year, or making an electronic deposit of your hard-earned funds, as you try to avoid that fatal car crash.
As you silently grind away at work, too busy to think about government handouts, entitlement programs, and tax refunds -- others are opening a tightly sealed box containing a new iPAD, clothing from Victoria's Secret, or perhaps even purchasing a Cadillac Escalade with those shiny new rims you so desire.
I know it is a thankless job, and nobody wants to do it, but you are, and you should be proud.
Thank you for contributing to our economy. Thank you for not taking. Thank you for giving, and then giving some more. We need you -- we count on you. You are the backbone.
As Franklin D. Roosevelt once remarked, “Taxes, after all, are dues that we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society.”
But apparently the duty is exclusively and squarely on you, to keep the privileges going, to keep society civilized. As the number of Americans filing tax returns and paying zero in federal income tax has skyrocketed to an all time high of 42% of tax filers (or 58.6 million filers) according to 2009 IRS data (excluding Social Security and Medicare taxes). And, if you add all of the non-tax filers this number increases over 50% according to some estimates. You are becoming a minority -- you are becoming a relic -- Mr. and Ms. Last Remaining Taxpayer.
But don’t worry though, when your kids want to go to Harvard, or another Ivy league school, you will then pay some more because you “make too much.”
Yet, we can only thank you, again, for this kind gesture, because it really could not be done without you -- Mr. and Ms. Last Remaining Taxpayer.
You forgot to play the game, you did not “get the memo,” life passed you by, you just kept paying and paying -- keep your income low, have lots of kids, stage a disability, shack up multiple families in a household -- in other words don’t work too hard. Don’t stand on your own two feet. In fact, don’t stand at all -- lay around all day, watch TV, have some fun. This one’s for you Mr. and Ms. Last Remaining Taxpayer.
And soak it up Mr. and Ms. Last Remaining Taxpayer because this was in fact a “good year” for you. You had a two percent haircut in Social Security, and tax Armageddon will soon to arrive in 2013.
That’s right, come 2013 you can expect a tax increase as an arsenal of tax provisions expire in the Internal Revenue Code. The highest marginal tax rate will increase, capital gains and dividends will increase, and the IRS may even phase-out your personal exemptions and itemized deductions. So live it up while you can, Mr. and Ms. Last Remaining Taxpayer, don’t just sit around and watch the other’s play.
These are good times.
Thank you so much for playing ball like a sport.
Rodney P. Mock is an associate professor of accounting at the Orfalea College of Business at California Polytechnic State University.