Sort of makes you wonder what life is like in the other 48 states, doesn’t it? Or perhaps you wonder what life is like in Minnesota, that frozen Shangri-la the survey said was less stressful than here.
Because April has poked its head into our lives like some struggling crocus fighting brown earth and a late-season snow, your major stressor right now may be taxes. If so, it’s worth pondering that politicians should be glad tax day, whether by design or otherwise, comes in the middle of April and not near Election Day in November. Not a lot of incumbents would be re-elected if people had to drop off their ballots and tax returns at the Post Office simultaneously.
What would you do to ensure a tax-free future? The survey found 36 percent would move to a different country, and 24 percent would agree to being permanently tattooed with “IRS,” somewhere on their bodies.
This generation is not the first to discover a dislike of the income tax. On Feb. 7, 1924, the editor of The Florala News in Florala, Alabama, greeted readers with an editorial that was a full-on assault of it, saying it was a burden “we were told would fall upon the shoulders of the big fellow, but which hasn’t touched the pocketbooks of any but the consumer.”
Politicians, he said, were talking that winter about reducing the burden. “They are not fooling the writer,” he wrote. “We’ve been pinched by their steel traps, and hairlipped by their baited hooks, until we don’t believe but a mighty small part of that yarn about putting the tax burden on the shoulders of the big fellow. It just simply can’t be did (sic).”
Sounds like he wanted to make America great again, even if his facts were a bit off.
In 1924 the marginal rate was 2 percent for anyone earning less than $4,000, which would be just under $60,000 today, with inflation. It was 4 percent if you earned between $4,000 and $8,000. The highest rate was 46 percent, for those who made $500,000 or more, the equivalent of almost $7.5 million today.
These days, the lowest marginal rate is 10 percent. Today, as in 1924, the richest Americans pay the most, although the top rate is only 37 percent.
And while it also isn’t by design, Utah lawmakers should be glad tax day — either for income or property taxes — doesn’t fall while they are session.
Wallethub also looked at the overall state and local tax burden, as measured against each state’s personal income totals, and found that Utah ranks about in the middle, at 27th. The state ranked 14th in its income tax burden, 28th in sales tax and 36th in property tax.
April is a good time to pause, perhaps after making the final calculation for the IRS, and ponder what this all means. Taxes are a necessary burden, but the list of things people would like them to fund has no discernable end. All the talk about federal, state and local taxes tends to ignore the fact that all of them are paid by you.
Utah lawmakers are in the middle of trying to reconfigure the state’s sales and income levies, perhaps taxing a host of services for the first time.
Regardless of how necessary this may be, if they don’t do it with a keen eye toward the overall tax burden, we may find ourselves sinking fast on the next list of the least stressed states.