This week’s article is contributed by our newly-elected District 1 Coordinator, Dan Gaeddert. Read how Dan tracked his tax obligations for the 2021 fiscal year, in an effort to find out exactly how Kansas citizens’ taxpayer dollars add up. Thanks Dan for your enlightening and educational message!
Taxation: What Is the True Cost?
Taxes: we all hate them. But how much do we really end up paying? Politicians from both the left and the right like to tout how affordable our “free” government programs are, and how it’s only businesses and the “ultra-wealthy” that contribute to our general coffers. Even a quick glance at your paycheck might not feel too bad: after all, this is the price we must pay to live in a civilized society, right? We all know that the taxes we pay extend far beyond what gets skimmed off the top of our paycheck, but I am curious to find out exactly how much government spending I am personally responsible for.
Beginning January 1st, 2021, I started saving receipts from all my transactions. I did research to figure out any hidden taxes, such as gasoline tax (a whopping 42.33 cents per gallon). I keep track of every transaction on a spreadsheet and categorize each type of tax paid. When it comes to my state and federal withholdings, I have them set so that I will still owe the government money at the end of the year. In fact, when I filed my income taxes for 2020, I ended up owing an ADDITIONAL $2,500! (Which is not included in the numbers below) After making an adjustment to my withholdings, I expect to owe about $1,000 extra by the time this is all said and done. So no, not a single penny of the numbers you are about to see will be returned to me.
By most people’s standards, my wife and I live a very solid middle-class lifestyle. I make a decent salary working as a technician in the steel processing industry, while my wife teaches high school science in our small town in rural Kansas. We do not qualify for any sort of government assistance, but we are certainly not the “ultra-wealthy” that most people refer to when they talk about who will be paying for all of these “free” government programs. With a gross household income well below the 6-figure range, most people would agree that we should not be bearing an excessively large tax burden.
I recently closed the books on the month of April, tabulating the total amount of taxes I have paid for the first 1/3 of the fiscal year. That number comes out to a whopping $5,630.35. When that number gets divided out, it comes to around $50 every single day that is taken by the government.
So, what does all that money pay for? Many people would argue that infrastructure and public roads are a big chunk. However, it costs an average of only 5 cents per mile to drive on toll roads in the state of Kansas. At that price, I could afford to drive over 112,000 miles! Another giant portion of our national budget goes to defense spending. Since the beginning of the war on terror in 2001, we have spent roughly 6.4 trillion dollars. To put that number in perspective, 100% of the taxes I have paid so far this year have funded the war in the middle east for a grand total of ½ of a second. Here are a few other things that $5,630 in taxes will fund: Keeping a prisoner incarcerated for 56 days, .047% of the airport built at Martha’s Vineyard, .27% of a sex education program for prostitutes in Ethiopia, .08% of a program to detect space aliens, and finally, .11% of a bailout to Amtrack (a “private” business).
We all know our government wastes a ton of money, but it is incredibly eye-opening to see how much we all actually end up paying in taxes, as well as how easily that money is thrown away on wasteful spending. I look forward to continuing this experiment throughout the year and providing more updates as the amount I pay in taxes continues to balloon larger and larger. I hope that it will help us all be a little more careful who, and what, we vote for.
Dan plans to continue documenting his personal taxation, as an ongoing process for the fiscal year. Stay tuned for developments….