Citizens expect certain services from their governments. Taxes are a fundamental mechanism for the government to fund the services these governments provide to their citizens. Taxes have been imposed since antiquity as the justification to fund these expected services.
I had a friend that spent a number of years in third world countries who said he likes paying taxes; he likes when he dials 911 that emergency services will come. He spent a lot of time in third world countries, places where there was no 911, no emergency services, and if the police did show up, it was only to shake you down.
However, have our governments become more “creative” in their insatiable lust to unfairly confiscate more and more of their constituent’s earnings? All this while the services provided to these taxpayers seem to be diminishing.
New York City is instituting a "Congestion Tax." A creative taxing scheme based on geography to pay for their inability to fund upkeep of the subways.
Julia Marsh tells us in "How New Yorkers are making bank ratting out idling drivers" that the government has also enlisted the help of the public to collect even more funds to feed their coffers. Violations of the anti-idling law went up 4,325% from 2017 to 2018 after a new law allowing people to bag 25% of the collected fine for reporting idling vehicles.
Northern Virginia has instituted a dynamic toll for four hours on a ten mile section of Interstate 66. In the mornings the variable toll starts at $30 and the Washington Post reported the toll can top $46.00 for this ten mile stretch of roadway. Another tax directed at the commuter forcing hundreds probably thousands to increase their daily commute time by finding alternate, more time consuming, and less gas efficient routes.
In what might be the greatest attempt at hypocritical showmanship rivaling any three ring circus, Sophia Kunthara writing for the San Francisco Chronicle in April informs us that the California Governor is calling for an investigation into the high price of fuel in California. This after the former Governor signed a bill last year raising the excise tax on gasoline 40% (29.7 to 41.7 cents per gallon); diesel 125% (16 to 36 cents per gallon) and the sales tax on diesel 44% (9% to 13%). This raised the government’s collection from the public’s earnings while the rise in the consumer price index for 2018 averaged only 2.4%!
As government and commercial companies pushed programs to increase the gas mileage, hybrid vehicles and the electric cars, they find the funds collected from the federal gasoline and diesel tax significantly decreasing. Congress, rather than allowing the consumer to benefit from these savings, is conceiving yet another mechanism to amass these savings from the consumer. David Lightman reports in “Congress taking a serious look at taxing miles driven,” that using the data from modern vehicles the government is looking to collect the money the consumers saved by these fuel saving technologies.
In “The lottery: A popular, cleverly hidden and discriminatory tax?” for The Hill last November I showed that lottery winners only receive about 38% of the advertised winnings with 58% going to the governments. Even the mob running the numbers only collected 10% of one’s winnings!
Does our government need to take lessons on imposing taxes from history?
The legend of Lady Godiva holds that she took her famous naked horse ride to protest the taxes imposed on the people by her husband, Loefric, Earl of Mercia.
In our own national history one can read that the revolution was precipitated by the taxes imposed on the colonists. The Stamp Act was the first of these imposing a tax on all paper documents. And who can forget the Boston Tea Party, when the colonists dumped chests of tea into Boston Harbor rather than pay the tax on imported tea imposed by the British. This brought a rallying cry of the American Revolution “Taxation without representation.”
Even today we see the “Yellow Vest Protest Movement.” This started as a grassroots protest against taxes imposed by the French Government on the general population. These protests have continued to occur every weekend, some peaceful and some more violent, since November 2018. The anti-tax protests have spread over Europe and morphed in one form or another into anti-government protests that have spread across the globe.
People will readily pay taxes for the services they receive from the government. But have our elected officials crossed the line, devising more and more schemes to collect more and more to feed their insatiable appetite for your earnings while delivering less and less to those who are actually paying these taxes?
John M. DeMaggio retired after 30 years of service as a Captain from the U.S. Naval Reserve Intelligence Program. He holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Forensic Science from John Jay College and a Master’s of Science from Whiting School of Engineering, Johns Hopkins University. Privately consulting in counterterrorism, forensic science, and investigations, he also conducts international counterterrorism training, having retired as a Special Agent in Charge and serving as Co-chairman, Investigative Support and Forensic Subgroup, TSWG, developing interagency counterterrorism technology. He is also an op-ed contributor for The Hill. He previously published “Mitigation of Terrorist Effects on Victims’ Motivation” in U.S. Army Counterinsurgency Center Colloquium. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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