The U.S. tax code is a complete and utter abomination and it needs to be thrown out entirely. Nobody in their right mind would ever read the whole thing - it is over 3 million words long. Each year, Americans spend billions of hours and hundreds of billions of dollars trying to comply with federal tax requirements. Sadly, it is the honest, hard working Americans in the middle class that always get hit the hardest. The tax code is absolutely riddled with loopholes that big corporations and the ultra-wealthy use to minimize their tax burdens as much as possible. Many poor people do not pay any income taxes at all. The dishonest are rewarded for cheating on their taxes (if they can get away with it) and the ultra-wealthy have moved trillions of dollars to offshore tax havens where they can avoid U.S. taxation altogether. Our system is incredibly unfair to the millions of hard working people in the middle class and upper middle class that drag themselves out of bed and go to work each day and try to do the right thing. In addition, the current U.S. tax system is incredibly inefficient, it diverts a tremendous amount of resources away from more valuable economic activities, and it has chased thousands of businesses and trillions of dollars out of the United States. The U.S. tax code is such a complete and utter mess at this point that it can never be "fixed". The only rational thing to do is to abolish it completely, and any politician that tells you otherwise is lying to you.
The following are 24 outrageous facts about taxes in the United States that will blow your mind....
1 - The U.S. tax code is now 3.8 million words long. If you took all of William Shakespeare's works and collected them together, the entire collection would only be about 900,000 words long.
2 - According to the National Taxpayers Union, U.S. taxpayers spend more than 7.6 billion hours complying with federal tax requirements. Imagine what our society would look like if all that time was spent on more economically profitable activities.
3 - 75 years ago, the instructions for Form 1040 were two pages long. Today, they are 189 pages long.
4 - There have been 4,428 changes to the tax code over the last decade. It is incredibly costly to change tax software, tax manuals and tax instruction booklets for all of those changes.
5 - According to the National Taxpayers Union, the IRS currently has 1,999 different publications, forms, and instruction sheets that you can download from the IRS website.
6 - Our tax system has become so complicated that it is almost impossible to file your taxes correctly. For example, back in 1998 Money Magazine had 46 different tax professionals complete a tax return for a hypothetical household. All 46 of them came up with a different result.
7 - In 2009, PC World had five of the most popular tax preparation software websites prepare a tax return for a hypothetical household. All five of them came up with a different result.
8 - The IRS spends $2.45 for every $100 that it collects in taxes.
10 - When the U.S. government first implemented a personal income tax back in 1913, the vast majority of the population paid a rate of just 1 percent, and the highest marginal tax rate was just 7 percent.
11 - Residents of New Jersey pay $1.64 in taxes for every $1.00 of federal spending that they get back.
12 - The United States is the only nation on the planet that tries to tax citizens on what they earn in foreign countries.
13 - According to Forbes, the 400 highest earning Americans pay an average federal income tax rate of just 18 percent.
14 - Warren Buffett had an effective tax rate of just 17.4 percent for 2010.
15 - The top 20 percent of all income earners in the United States pay approximately 86 percent of all federal income taxes.
16 - Sadly, as Bill Whittle has shown, you could take every single penny that every American earns above $250,000 and it would only fund about 38 percent of the federal budget.
17 - The United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the world (35 percent). In Ireland, the corporate tax rate is only 12.5 percent. This is causing thousands of corporations to move operations out of the United States and into other countries.
18 - Some tax havens are doing a booming business in setting up sham headquarters for U.S. corporations. For example, the city of Zug, Switzerland only has a population of 26,000 people but it is the headquarters for 30,000 companies.
20 - In a previous article, I discussed how many of our largest corporations make huge profits and yet pay less than nothing in taxes....
What U.S. corporations are able to get away with is absolutely amazing.
The following figures come directly out of a report by Citizens for Tax Justice. These are combined figures for the tax years 2008, 2009 and 2010.
During those three years, all of the corporations below made a lot of money. Yet all of them paid net taxes that were below zero for those three years combined.
How is that possible? Well, it turns out that instead of paying in taxes to the federal government, they were actually getting money back.
So for these corporations, their rate of taxation was actually below zero.
If you have not seen these before, you are going to have a hard time believing some of these statistics.....
Profits: $4.9 billion
Taxes: -$34 million
Profits: $3 billion
Taxes: -$23 million
Profits: $49.37 billion
Taxes: -$681 million
Profits: $9.7 billion
Taxes: -$178 million
Profits: $32.5 billion
Taxes: -$951 million
Profits: $2.1 billion
Taxes -$72 million
*American Electric Power*
Profits: $5.89 billion
Taxes -$545 million
Profits: $7.7 billion
Taxes: -$4.7 billion
Are you starting to get the picture?
21 - Exxon-Mobil paid $15 billion in taxes in 2009, but not a single penny went to the U.S. government.
22 - Many wealthy Americans hide enormous amounts of money outside the country in order to avoid paying taxes. According to the IMF, a total of 18 trillion dollars is currently being hidden in offshore banks.
23 - The number of traffic accidents spikes each year right around April 15th. The following is from a recent Bloomberg article....
Deaths from traffic accidents around April 15, traditionally the last day to file individual income taxes in the U.S., rose 6 percent on average on each of the last 30 years of tax filing days compared with a day during the week prior and a week later, according to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
24 - Most of the tax debate is focused on income taxes, but the truth is that Americans pay dozens of other taxes every single year. The following are just a few of the taxes that many Americans pay....
#1 Building Permit Taxes
#2 Capital Gains Taxes
#3 Cigarette Taxes
#4 Court Fines (indirect taxes)
#5 Dog License Taxes
#6 Federal Unemployment Taxes
#7 Fishing License Taxes
#8 Food License Taxes
#9 Gasoline Taxes
#10 Gift Taxes
#11 Hunting License Taxes
#12 Inheritance Taxes
#13 Inventory Taxes
#14 IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax)
#15 IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
#16 Liquor Taxes
#17 Luxury Taxes
#18 Marriage License Taxes
#19 Medicare Taxes
#20 Property Taxes
#21 Recreational Vehicle Taxes
#22 Toll Booth Taxes
#23 Sales Taxes
#24 Self-Employment Taxes
#25 School Taxes
#26 Septic Permit Taxes
#27 Service Charge Taxes
#28 Social Security Taxes
#29 State Unemployment Taxes (SUTA)
#30 Telephone Federal Excise Taxes
#31 Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Taxes
#32 Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Taxes
#33 Telephone State And Local Taxes
#34 Tire Taxes
#35 Toll Bridge Taxes
#36 Toll Tunnel Taxes
#37 Traffic Fines (indirect taxation)
#38 Utility Taxes
#39 Vehicle License Registration Taxes
#40 Vehicle Sales Taxes
#41 Workers Compensation Taxes
When you account for all forms of taxation on the federal, state and local levels there are many Americans that pay out more than half of their incomes in taxes.
We are being taxed into oblivion, and yet most Americans do not even realize that it is happening.
It is kind of like being killed by thousands of tiny cuts.
So what do all of these taxes buy us?
Millions of Americans work for the federal government, and yet most of them produce very little of real economic value. The following comes from a recent National Review article....
By 2005, the federal government employed 14.6 million people: 1.9 million civil servants, 770,000 postal workers, 1.44 million uniformed service personnel, 7.6 million contractors, and 2.9 million grantees. This amounted to a ratio of five and a half "shadow" government employees for every civil servant on the federal payroll. Since 1999, the government had grown by over 4.5 million employees.
According to that same article, when you add in state and local government workers the numbers are even more dramatic....
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 3.8 million full-time and 1.5 million part-time employees on state payrolls. Local governments add a further 11 million full-time and 3.2 million part-time personnel. This means that state and local governments combined employ 19.5 million Americans.
Yes, we do need some government. For example, without any law enforcement at all our society would descend into complete chaos, and without any military at all we would be completely open to foreign conquest.
In order to have a stable, secure society we do need some government.
However, we definitely do not need the massively bloated government that we have today.
The truth is that most government employees are a drain on the system. Most of them just push paper around. I used to work in Washington D.C. so I know what pushing paper around is all about.
And as I wrote about yesterday, there are millions of other Americans that enjoy a comfortable existence at the expense of the federal government without doing any work whatsoever.
Of course the biggest welfare recipients of all are the big corporations. All forms of corporate welfare should be eliminated immediately.
When are U.S. taxpayers going to get sick and tired of paying for all of this?
Every single year, the federal government, state governments and local governments drain massive amounts of desperately needed money from hard working middle class families.
Then they take that money and spend it on incredibly foolish things.
When are American voters going to stand up and boldly declare that they have been taxed enough already and they aren't going to take it anymore?
The current tax code is completely and utterly broken and it is beyond repair.
Unfortunately, neither the Republicans or the Democrats are proposing that we should get rid of it.
So we are just going to continue to get more of the same year after year, and it is the middle class that will feel the pain.