Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

It’s a time of resentment, it’s tax bill time


April 19, 2016

hansen mug

Former QCS Managing Editor

On or about April 15 every year, many Americans of all political stripes momentarily become government-hating conservatives and libertarians.

That’s because they learn first-hand the personal cost to them of government.

Nobody writes a check or hits the “enter” key to see their bank account shrink by the amount of their income taxes without some resentment.

Even many staunch progressives grumble when they submit their returns.

Any way you look at it, most of us pay. A refund is an adjustment. A deduction means you spend the money only once. Neither is a gift.

While you’re grumbling about that, consider that the individual income tax share of government revenues has risen over the decades, but the corporate share has shrunk.

A recent Congressional report shows that back in 1950, the year I was born, about 40 percent of the federal government’s revenue came from individual income taxes. Corporate taxes accounted for 26.5 percent.

In 1970, individual income tax accounted for 47 percent of federal revenues, and corporate taxes accounted for about 17 percent.

In 2014, about 46 percent of federal revenues came from individual tax returns, and only 10 percent came from corporate income taxes.

According to Pew Research, average wages were the equivalent of today’s $19.18 per hour in 1970 and stand at $20.67 per hour today.

Rising corporate profits alone are why economists say we are no longer in recession.

I think it’s a fair question why the corporate share of federal income is shrinking as corporations prosper, while the individual income tax share rises as household incomes stay flat.

To complicate the question further, the U.S. corporate tax rate is among the world’s highest.

Progressive and conservative camps both have presented tax-reform ideas. Maybe we should increase taxes on individuals whose wealth surpasses the value of some states. Maybe the corporate rate should be cut in return for closing some loopholes.

We will never stop the resentment when our bank balances drop instantly for tax bills, but we can hope that our next president and Congress can enact changes that reduce the sense of unfairness that lingers in their wake.

Steve Hansen writes about our life and times from his perspective of a retired Tucumcari journalist. Contact him at:

[email protected]


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