July 10, 2013 | Volume 100 / Number 28

Don't Insult My Intelligence By Calling A Tax A Fee

Someone once said, “It’s not the earning of the money that concerns me. It’s the number of people trying to take it away from me.” Maybe it was me who said it. At any rate, how true it is.

Not counting your normal everyday expenditures for survival like food, clothing and housing, I have counted up at least 20 fees and taxes we pay. Oh, for sure, some are luxury fees and taxes for toys like boats, murdercycles, ATV’s, jet skis, RVs, airplanes and surfboards, and not everyone is subjected to paying for them.

But if you own any of the above toys you are required by regulation to register each and every one and pay the fees for same. And on top of that, you are required to have proof of insurance on all of your toys. There’s also a fee to register your family automobiles.

Then there’s the ever popular withholding tax, income tax, FICA, Social Security deductions, Medicare deductions and the infamous political contribution of a dollar or more. Of course, that one is strictly volunteer.

When you buy a set of tires you pay an “excise tax.” When you wear those tires out and get a new set, you have to pay a “disposal fee” on the old tires. Same with batteries.

I bought a 5-foot x 5-foot home-built utility trailer the other day. Cute little rascal. I thought I had better get a license on it and be legal, so I hitched it to my Mikado and set off for the police officer station in Glasgow to get it inspected.

But first, I had to go to the license plate place and pay a $5 fee to get a form for the VC sheriff (or designated deputy) to sign, stating that he inspected my trailer and found it to be legal.

The sheriff’s office has a set of steel stamps and a hammer one can borrow to stamp the title numbers on the tongue of the trailer. (At least it’s 25/26th’s of a set of alphabets. The T was missing and, of course, my assigned number had two Ts in it. Sheriff Glen, I’ll start a campaign off with a contribution of a dollar so the county can buy a new T. It’s nice that you offer the convenience of a set of stamps but without all of them it’s like getting a ham and cheese on rye without the ham.)

Deputy Luke inspected my handy work, pronounced it “tolerable” and off I went back to the courthouse to do the remainder of the paperwork and get my license plate. I’m thinking maybe 10, 15 bucks a year would be an appropriate fee for a trailer this small. But yikes! ... 86 bucks and change for a permanent plate. It’s just another tax. Call it a “fee” if you want but anytime you dig into your pocket and pay a “fee” and the money ultimately ends up in the government’s pocket it’s a TAX. Don’t kid yourself.

Among the various charges on your phone bill is a “users tax.” (I even pay a fee for NOT having long distance on my land line.) Same with your TV bill, and your utility bills. There’s even a fee to get married, and in a related matter there’s a liquor tax. There’s a tax on cigarettes, diesel fuel, tires, batteries, light bulbs, gasoline and hunting and fishing.

All these taxes are very taxing and they make me wish that my dad would have worked harder in his short lifetime so’s that I wouldn’t have to work so hard in my longer lifetime.

The basic tax structure in the United States is quite a bit lower than in many foreign countries like Canada, Japan, Germany, Sweden, Australia, North Dakota and Great Britain It’s the hidden stuff, the fees, that kill us in the wallet.

We find ourselves complaining about the high taxes here. Complain to your congressmen/women about all the hidden fees that we, as citizens, cough up every day for one thing or another.

It’s government trickery at it’s finest. A prime example was when George Herbert Walker Bush mumbled those now famous words “Read my lips. No new taxes.” Well, GHWB didn’t actually lie to us. In fact, during his reign there were no new taxes. They just raised rates on the old taxes.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I know we have to pay for our roads, sewer systems, schools, fire departments, police, IRS parties and all the other services we rely on every day and the money has to come from somewhere. All I ask is honesty in government. (Yeah, I know … another oxymoronism). Just don’t insult my intelligence by calling a tax a fee. It is what it is.

That’s it for now folks. Thanks for listening.

Virgil Vaupel is The Courier’s Hinsdale correspondent.

Reader Comments

(0)