September 12, 1963
of Two Taxpayers
Human Events, an angry, right-wing publication, has designated April 22 of each year as "Tax Freedom Day," proclaiming that the average taxpayer "works for the government" the first 111 days of the year, leaving him but 254 days to earn a living for himself and his family. The magazine's calculations are faulty, but its editors make a point no one can ignore: in the United States in 1963 taxes are a large and heavy burden on taxpayers large and small.
From Biblical times to the present every civilized society has had taxes of some kind. In my judgment the 20th Century will be no exception; we're not going to find a magic formula for escaping taxation. In fact, I know no rational person who advocates that all taxes be abolished, for taxes are truly the "price of civilization", to be totally avoided only in the complete "freedom" of anarchy.
Today, even more than in other centuries, it is impractical for each person, acting alone, to provide his own schools, police and fire protection, and other basic community services. Taxes are simply the means by which our people, acting through their freely-elected governments, are able to buy their national defense, highways, parks, schools, courts and other facilities and services which can be obtained in no other way.
Thus taxes are not "good" or "bad" in and of
themselves. Railing against taxes, as though all taxes were evil, contributes
nothing to the advancement of our society. The proper areas of argument
Attention to these questions is always important, and failures of government to meet these tests should be occasion for severe criticism.
FIVE LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT
When Arizonans grouse about the expense of "government," they usually concentrate on Uncle Sam in Washington. He's a convenient target. But let's keep in mind that most of us also pay taxes to at least four other levels of government: state, county, city and school district.
For a long time I have wanted to make a thorough study and comparison of the costs and benefits of all five levels of government as they affect you and me -- and other Arizona taxpayers. This summer, with the help of a student intern from the University of Arizona, I finally found my chance, and this report is the result. I think you will find this picture of your "total tax dollar" interesting -- and revealing.
Here is how we made our study. We started by obtaining
federal government figures from the current budget. Then I wrote to cooperative
officials in Phoenix and Tucson to get details on state and local spending.
Next I "created" two typical Tucson families -- one a family receiving
$6,600, about the average annual income for skilled workers, and the second
an upper-middle-class family with annual income of $18,500 (part of the
top 5% bracket of income producers in this country). Let me introduce my
two hypothetical families:
|Taking these families as typical of two classes
of taxpayers, we undertook to answer these basic questions:
In this report I will summarize the answers we obtained to Question 1. In a second report next week I will review the answers we gathered to Question 2.
TWO FAMILIES AND THEIR TAXES
According to my study the Carpenter family
will pay these taxes in 1963:
With its larger income the Barrister family
will pay these taxes:
A glance at the taxes paid by these two families
leads me to three observations:
Congressman's Report Main Page