Today is the culmination one of the certainties of life. Death doesn’t have a specific day on the calendar, but taxes certainly do.
And while we have engrained April 15th into our consciousness, I wonder if it will always have the same distinction in American culture? I guess the more appropriate question is to ask is, does it always have to keep the same distinction?
Will we ever approach April 15th in a different way as tax day?
The reason I ask is, lately, how we are taxed is becoming an increasingly discussed topic and more and more people from all ends of the political spectrum are wondering why it works this way.
We’re in an economic situation that we haven’t seen for some time in the U.S. We’re not quite in a recession and we’re not quite in prosperity. We’re in that middle economic purgatory that opens up real discussions about how we are taxed and what it should pay for.
After experiencing the years we have since 2008, we are anxious about our economy and even more anxious about how our government spends the money they collect every April 15th.
This anxiety is highlighted by the gridlock in Congress, but that gridlock is fairly representative of the difference of opinion in our populace. If we could all agree to taxing ourselves more, or simply cutting spending more, that agreement would be pretty easy to see. If our leaders are torn on how to do it, that means we as a people are too.
While we’re torn on how to spend the money collected by taxes, we do seem to be in agreement over our confusion and frustration with how those taxes are collected. I’m not talking about tax rates, but more about tax code.
When simple folks like me file our taxes, it can take a few hours to prepare them. I don’t have complicated tax issues in my life, but it still takes me a long time to file my taxes. And I am assuming that this is the case for many of you reading this entry.
I wonder why it needs to be this complicated. I have many colleagues that wonder the same thing. After much of this collective wondering, I think I have discovered why it’s this complicated.
Deep down inside, we want it this way, and I can tell you why.
Every time our tax code gets complicated, it is to someone’s benefit. Now, don’t me wrong, I’m not going off on a rich people get all the breaks rant. But if you think about the random questions asked on a tax form, they ask about many, many situations.
The form asks about dependents, mortgages, farms, education expenses, medical expenses, and the list goes on and on. Eventually, the form asks questions that affect everybody in various scenarios. And each of those scenarios usually gets some sort of benefit. To radically change the code is to radically change how many benefits we get from the form itself.
Back to my initial question, can it ever change? Well, only if we are all okay with losing the various breaks we call get in the tax code. I realize that it may feel that everyone else gets more breaks than you, but the reality is that everyone gets a variety of breaks. If we didn’t, doing our taxes would be fairly simple.
So, does the tax code annoy you? Does it annoy you enough to lose the ways you can take advantage of your living situation? If so, maybe things can change.
But frankly, until more of us have that level of frustration, there will not be enough energy in Washington to really change anything. We’ll simply hear more about promises of simplicity which will likely be disguised as new benefits in the code for certain people.
And every April 15th we’ll wonder why it takes us so long to do our taxes. It’s a certainty.
About The Blogger
- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out on Colorado Public Television.