Today is tax day. Our taxes are done (hopefully) and we have a whole year until taxes bother us again… or do we? We pay taxes everyday and in numerous ways. When it comes to taking our money, government has learned to be creative. To illustrate just how prevalent taxes are in our lives, think of how many times you interact with them, either directly or indirectly every day. I guarantee that you won’t catch them all.
For me, living in Washington, D.C., taxes are everywhere. When I go to the grocery store, I pay a 6% sales tax on non-grocery items, a 9% tax on alcohol that is consumed off premises, and a 5 cents bag tax for every grocery bag I use. If I were a smoker I would pay a cigarette tax of $2.50 per pack. The grocer has to pay a food license tax and a liquor license tax, which translates into higher prices for me.
Even when walking down the street, I am surrounded by taxes. I pass a man walking his dog. He pays $15 a year for a dog license if the dog is sterilized, if not, he pays $50 a year. A separate license is required for every dog of course. I pass car owners who pay a vehicle license registration tax, a 12% parking tax, and a 23.5% gas tax.
At restaurants I pay a 10% restaurant food tax, the restaurant pays both the food and liquor license tax, and when family comes to visit they pay a 14.5% hotel tax. Every day I pay a 10% public utility tax on the Metro, for gas, and for water.
There are too many taxes to cover them all, but here is a link to a more exhaustive list. Of course, there are the taxes that everyone knows: property, income, social security, and so on. We are surrounded by taxes every day, yet we only fear them on one day a year. Perhaps it is time to realize just how much we give away just to live in our own society. However, there is good news! Thanks to the Internet Tax Freedom Act, we don’t have to pay taxes for using PolicyMic.