Kopp Column: You're Working For The Government


I pay my taxes – do you?

That makes me a government employee and you are, too.

Conservatives share at least five beliefs about taxes paid to the U.S. Government.

Conservatives belief #1– law-abiding citizens pay what is owed – no more, no less. That’s why you’re a government employee today. You’re working to pay what you owe. It’s constitutional.

“The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.” — 16th Amendment U.S. Constitution.

The average American works 220 days a year, more or less. Dairy farmers work 365 days a year; others don’t work at all.

People in a lower income tax bracket, say 16%, before they get paid, the U.S. Government takes its 16% share first. It’s called withholding.

That means 16% of your work time pays what the government will take from you. If you’re in the 16% tax bracket you work until mid-February to cover what the government takes in a year. If you’re in the 20% tax bracket, you’ll work until March to cover what the government takes. (In reality, it’s worse than that. The Tax Foundation calculates Tax Freedom Day which includes taxes at various government levels “hidden” taxes and fees buried in the cost of living. In 2012 that was April 17.)

Now at the beginning of the year, you are exchanging your labor, the goods and services you produce to get money from your employer, your customers, or your income source to cover what the government takes. Just as in a medieval feudal system, the King or Lord is confiscating your property for the privilege to live under their rule.

Conservative belief #2 – Taxes are confiscatory; the government confiscates your earnings, your private property. Your income is your private property. It’s what you are given in exchange for the goods or services you produce.

In Minnesota, repeat drunk drivers are punished by confiscating the driver’s vehicle. If you choose to drive drunk you could get your vehicle confiscated as part of the punishment. What did you do to prompt the government to confiscate the first part of your income, your personal property? Your productivity is punished by confiscating the first share of your earnings.

Conservatives belief #3 – INCOME taxes are not inevitable, but taxes are. Tax free municipal bonds are a way to pay for a project. A municipality “borrows” money from people who buy the bonds and repays them with interest. The interest is income tax free. Otherwise, the municipality would raise taxes in its jurisdiction to pay for a project. It repays the loan with interest by collecting another kind of taxes — several years’ property taxes or other local income streams. It’s income tax free, but not property tax free.

A second way taxes are not inevitable is favoritism. It’s not fair, but it’s true. Ask Joe the Plumber. After he asked Mr. Obama a challenging question in 2008’s campaign, his taxes were investigated. It’s not just Democrats who do this. Martin Luther King jr. was also investigated by Republicans.

Meanwhile admitted tax cheats such as Mr. Obama’s Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner are not investigated for the tax fraud. That favoritism is conservative belief four.

Conservative belief #4 – Taxes are not fair. They are used discriminatorily to punish or to reward those who either please or displease the ruling government. Joe the Plumber is punished, Secretary Geithner is not.

What’s the solution? What drives this need to confiscate more of your property? It’s a spending issue. Right now, if you’re part of a family of four, the government will confiscate nearly $1.5 million just to pay what the Government has already spent! Already spent! What could you do with that $1.5 million?

What are some solutions? Many believe in a flat tax and there are no convincing arguments against a flat tax system. It works. Just ask Russia, a country that erased part of its national debt with a flat tax.

Another solution is to get personal. That means right now, start keeping track of how newly-elected Congressman Cramer and Senator Heitkamp spend your money. Then, question them on each expenditure. Hold them accountable.

Another personal solution is to make tax confiscation personal. If you’re a wage earner, before you get your paycheck, your taxes are confiscated. Payday produces a groan, “Wow. The government took a big chunk.” Nothing more is thought about it because the confiscation is impersonal. We’ve been persuaded that the government has an unlimited claim to any money we earn.

Tax payments should be made personal. We’ve become numb. Abolish withholding. On payday, write a check for what the government would have withheld. The check must precede the check you write for your mortgage, rent, credit cards, groceries, medicine or day care. If not, you will be penalized at the same rate as a payday loan at the local pawn shop — an annual percentage rate of several hundred percent. You will feel how much Cramer or Heitkamp confiscates from you. You will feel your freedom flowing out with the ink that writes that check.

Fact: either your freedoms will continue to be reduced as your personal property is taken – or government spending must be reduced. Which do you think will happen, a miracle?

Patrick Henry: “Where and when did freedom exist, when the sword and purse were given up from the people? Unless a miracle in human affairs interposed, no nation ever retained its liberty after the loss of the sword and the purse.”