Archive for February, 2008

The Tax Hikers Of Evanston

February 29, 2008

The good people of Evanston, Ill., awoke to some bad news yesterday:

The Evanston City Council voted 8-1 Wednesday to raise its portion of Evanston’s property taxes by 7.02 percent, an amount Ald. Ann Rainey (8th) said was the highest in the more than 20 years she has been involved in Evanston politics.

Oh, and remind me never to move near the city but get a job within it:

Some of the changes voted on by the council Wednesday night include an $80 vehicle registration fee increase for non-residents who wish to park in Evanston.

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A Wacky Plea For More Taxes

February 29, 2008

Wanna know why this blog exists? Read no further than this nonsense by columnist Alan Lupo in The Salem News:

No politician of any stripe wants to hike taxes any more than we lust to pay them. But at some point American citizens, and those who want our votes, must dispense with the myth that all we need do is excise a little corruption here and a little inefficiency there, and we’ll have all the money we need to do all that must be done. …

Given what appears to be a looming recession, the federal government must belly up to the bar with fiscal relief. If Bush fails to do this, the problem will appear on the plate of whoever succeeds him. Should that be McCain, he will rue his no-tax pledge just as the elder Bush did in 1990 when he had to face up to a federal budget deficit left by the Reagan administration.

Wake up, Mr. Lupo. There is more than “a little corruption” in government, and more importantly, there’s an insufferable amount of bureaucratic inefficiency.

Throw on top of that the pork-barrel spending, handouts that encourage irresponsible behavior and every manner of overbearing regulation imaginable, and there’s plenty of room to cut budgets instead of raising taxes.

There are very few “necessary services” that the government needs fund — especially the federal government. I’m all for paying taxes to defend this country, the most important governmental role envisioned by the wise men who created American democracy. Transportation is pretty important to interstate (and international) commerce, too.

But beyond that, please stop telling presidential wannabes like John McCain that it’s OK to pick my pockets. You’re free to more of your money to the government, but please stop volunteering mine to Uncle Sam.

Where There’s Beef, There’s Taxes

February 28, 2008

I’m sure ya’ll remember the famous ad slogan from Wendy’s in the 1980s, the best decade of all time: Where’s the beef? Well, I found a junior portion today when the lunch bug bit and didn’t have any food with me at work.

Wendy wasn’t the only one waiting for me to pay, either. Aunt Virginia boosted the bill for my junior bacon cheeseburger and small fries by 20 cents.

I Hate Cappuccino!

February 28, 2008

Kimberly hit Barnes & Noble after I got home from work this evening to buy a couple of books for Anthony as he continues his reading development at home school. Oh, and she just had to get one of those fancy, tall cups of coffee while there.

The books added 40 cents to our tax bill for the week and the coffee, an extra 18 cents.

Tax Kreme Of The Crop

February 27, 2008

My wife and children made their first visit to my new workplace today. One of the benefits of home-schooling is that the kids can take the occasional impromptu break from their studies to come visit Daddy.

Anthony, Elli and Catie were a bit bummed when I lost my job at National Journal due to a layoff. The company has a “common room” where breakfast is served every morning and snacks are available throughout the day, with unlimited fountain sodas to wash it down — all for free.

But they weren’t sad for long once they learned that my new employer, the Media Research Center, is located in Old Town Alexandria, just a couple of miles from one of the few Krispy Kreme donut shops in the Washington area. I can’t help but wonder whether that was the driving force behind today’s trip to see Daddy.

Kimberly and the kids bought a dozen donuts before heading to the office for lunch. The tax bite: 14 cents.

Hunting And Fishing For Money

February 27, 2008

As a hunter and fisherman from way back in my days of West Virginia youth, I’m partial to the idea of sportsmen paying to help protect wildlife habitats. It’s the best way to keep the sports of hunting and fishing vibrant. We get something for the money we pay.

But Minnesota’s call to increase the state sales tax to pay for wildlife and arts programs under something called the Legacy Act is a bad idea. Money-grubbing lawmakers eventually will find a way to get their hands on that money for other reasons.

Wildlife programs should be funded by licensing fees and other dedicated revenue-raisers with a direct connection to the ultimate goal. It’s never a good idea to raise general taxes for specific purposes because it just invites more tax hikes down the road as special interests fight over the pot of money.

As for funding arts programs, if new taxes ain’t for readin’, writin’ and arithmetic, you won’t find any support for them in these quarters. I’m reluctant to fork over more money even for those core subjects to education bureaucrats who have screwed up our school sytems beyond belief. We home-school for a reason.

Governments actually need to give tax breaks to people like us because under the current system, we’re paying for our children’s education twice — once for schools they don’t attend and then again for the books and other expenses to give them a better education at home.

The Tax Hikers Of Minnesota

February 27, 2008

Folks in the Gopher State can’t dig a hole deep enough to keep the bureaucrats their from forcing them to dig deeper into their wallets in order to fill state coffers:

Minnesotans will pay an extra $6.6 billion over the next decade in extra taxes after the legislature voted to override the governor’s veto of the transportation bill.

Some reactions from the taxpayers:
— “I often pay over $1,000 a week in taxes. … Devils like you would like me to pay even more. … You are a disgusting filthy animal.”

— “I don’t know where the money is going. I don’t believe ’em; I don’t trust ’em at all.”

— “This guy gets a cut. This guy gets a cut. The legislator votes themselves in a raise. They get more per diem. Where is it going?”

— “It’s always, ‘We need more money,’ “because making the difficult decisions alienates somebody. And in a state where everybody wants to be liked, it’s hard to make a difficult decision.”

So watcha gonna do about it, Minnesotans? If you’re smart, you’ll throw every last one of the bums who voted to increase your taxes out of office the next time you go to the polls. It’s up to you to give the phrase “taxation with representation” some meaning.

If You Overspend, Cut The Spending

February 25, 2008

Gov. Jon Corzine appears to be fighting a losing battle in his bid to raise highway tolls in New Jersey to address budget woes.

It’s a shame that this needs saying by a newspaper, but I’m glad somebody said it: “Tax increases and fee hikes of any kind should be fiercely resisted until all of the cost-reduction suggestions have been acted on.”

That’s a good rule of thumb for tax hikers and wannabe tax hikers across the country. But the odds aren’t good that they will abide by it. Raising revenue is the easier solution — and too many Americans aren’t willing to throw the bums out for hiking our taxes.

Why voters would rather pay more in taxes to get handouts that cannot possibly equal or exceed the tax bill once you include the cost of bureaucracy is beyond me.

Read At Your Own Tax Risk

February 24, 2008

Someone remind me to keep my wife out of bookstores! Kimberly made a brief jaunt to the Family Christian Store this afternoon and spent $43, including another $2.05 in sales taxes.

Clothes Horses

February 24, 2008

Man, is it ever expensive to keep three growing children in clothes. All of their growth spurts seem to come at the same time — and that means the trips to Target, Wal-Mart and the like tend to be for three instead of one.

Kimberly bought a few clothing odds and ends for each of the children today. The small items and one pair of jeans for Anthony rang up at $61.06. Aunt Virginia jacked up the final tab another $3.05 for taxes.

The Pig Place

February 24, 2008

My wife lived in Memphis before we met, my older brother Randy moved his family there for several years after we married, and my niece is attending college there now. But we have one more connection to that Tennessee city, the most important of all: Red Hot & Blue, the chain restaurant where they serve Memphis-style pit BBQ.

Thankfully, there is a Red Hot & Blue franchise near our home. When my wife celebrated her 40th birthday (er, 29th — again), pulled pork was the main course. We always look for excuses to go to Red Hot & Blue.

We had a good excuse today. “Grandma Betty,” the mother of one of our best friends and sister in spirit, was in town. Grandma Betty let Elli pick a restaurant for lunch today, and Elli quickly chose “The Pig Place.”

The tax tab: $1.60.

Tax Bite, Week 8

February 23, 2008

Feb. 17-24
Gasoline: $9.71
Groceries: $3.33
Eat-In/Other: $1.03
Sales: $4.23

Weekly total: $18.30
Year-to-date total: $7,236.48
(includes monthly tax bite)

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

February 23, 2008

I usually ask my loving mother to cut my hair because I’m too conservative (read: cheap) to pay a beautician. But I forgot to make that request when my parents visited in December/January. Three months without a hair cut is long enough.

I went to a salon today and paid $16 for a haircut. The receipt doesn’t indicate any taxes, so I can’t decide whether to add any to this week’s tax bite. I suspect that Hair Cuttery pays some kind of tax to Aunt Virginia. If it were a sales tax, the tab would be 67 cents.

I’ll let Aunt Virginia off the hook this time, but color me skeptical that I managed to get a haircut without being taxed.

No Tax Breaks For You!

February 22, 2008

When I moved to the Washington, D.C., area in 1991, the Metro system here gave credits of 10 percent to 20 percent to riders who bought tickets with more value on them. When I purchased $30 worth of Metro fare, I actually earned $36 worth of travel time on the trains.

Those days are long gone. Metro officials started curtailing the bonus fares soon after I moved here and eliminated them as they kept busting their budgets.

I was reminded of the way things used to be today when reading about one California official’s brilliant plan to save her state from its longrunning love affair with spending: Eliminate an array of tax breaks “that individuals can claim for dependent children and seniors, and that companies can claim for research and development as well as for hiring low-income workers.”

You won’t hear any bureaucrat or politician admit it, but getting rid of tax breaks is just another way of raising taxes — and hiding that fact from voters.

The Running Total Of Our Taxes

February 21, 2008

Reader “mdb002” suggested that I post a grand total of taxes paid year to date as part of the weekly tax bite. It’s a great idea. I’ve updated the relevant posts.

The latest total — $7,218.18 — is listed in the tax bite for Week 7.

The year-to-date totals going forward will include the bigger updates from the monthly tax bite when relevant because the monthly entries include figures that aren’t listed in the weekly totals, such as income taxes and communications fees. I get that information only every other week or monthly.

I’ll also include year-to-date totals in the entries for monthly tax bites.