April 15 is less than a month away. For many of us, there’s a sense
of dread around this time of the year. We’re under the gun to file a tax
return that often requires us to make a big payment.
But, you know, for most Americans this is not the case. Nearly 100
million taxpayers are expected to receive IRS refunds this year. People
look forward to tax refunds. In fact, tax refunds are replacing savings
accounts for many Americans — overpay your taxes, get it back without
interest months later. What a deal, huh?
This is one of the reasons “withholding” dollars represent an
ingenious yet insidious plot by government to make paying taxes
“painless” — even when you’re paying up to 40 percent of your income.
But paying taxes should hurt. Otherwise, government will increasingly
grab more and more of your hard-earned dollars. If you have to sacrifice
— I mean really scrape by to pay your taxes, as so many self-employed
people know — you learn to appreciate how much the government is taking
from you. Most Americans have no idea, thanks to the magic of
withholding. And that is exactly how Americans have become conditioned
to paying, which perhaps explains why in some recent polls most actually
opposed tax cuts.
Self-employed Americans, however, know better. They actually have to
write checks to the Infernal Revenue Service every quarter — sometimes
very big checks. That hurts — especially when you think about how this
government squanders billions of dollars and spends even more on
programs that erode your freedoms and cultivate even more dependency on
That’s the way it should be. I tell you, most Americans have no idea
how much they are paying in taxes because they never see the money.
Unless they look carefully at their paycheck stub and see dollars being
transferred to Washington, to their state capital and elsewhere, they
would never have any idea how much of their money is confiscated and
The government refers to your “gross income,” yet a significant part
of those “earnings” never “come in” your door, your bank account, your
wallet. They go directly from your employer to the government. How is
that “income” for the taxpayer?
Worse yet, as Alfred Abdo, president of American Tax Planning Co.,
points out, the IRS has effectively created
a tax on tax dollars withheld — either for Social Security or federal
income tax. The IRS defines “gross income,” yet never includes tax
withholdings in the definition. The term “wages,” according to the IRS,
excludes collected taxes within the definition. Nevertheless, the IRS
does not follow the law when it comes to excluding collected taxes from
I’ll tell you what. If you want a revolution in this country, end
withholding. That would be enough. That would provide the wake-up call
so desperately needed to shake people from their sense of complacent
dependency. Too many Americans have become conditioned to respond like
grateful serfs. They live for that refund check. They are content to get
a few measly crumbs back of their own hard-earned bread. They think of
it as a handout, a freebie, found money.
End withholding and you end the scam, the deceit, the hoax
perpetrated on Americans who believe they are fortunate if government
just gives them a little back every year.
Or maybe we should go the other direction to end the charade. Perhaps
government should just dispense with the niceties and take it all —
lock, stock and barrel. Instead of withholding “its share” of your
earnings, maybe the government ought to seize it all and parcel out your
living expenses to you or your debtors as they are needed. That would be
convenient, wouldn’t it? It would save you all the trouble of writing
checks every month. You’d never be caught short. Come to think of it,
this might be a plank for Al Gore’s presidential campaign.
But what’s the difference, really? If government has the right to
seize some of your income before it ever reaches the palm of your hand,
what right do you have to protect any of it?