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Texas : Features : Columns : Letters From North America :

Taxation

by Peary Perry
Peary Perry
So much to write about, so little time.

What do we have time to focus on this week? The economy? Nope, thatís being talked to death. Corruption? Where can we start? Unqualified politicians? Not enough time.

How about taxes? Thatís a good idea and one we can all identify with. It seems to me that about 200 and some odd years ago, we protested taxation without representation. Having sat through last weeks vote on the stimulus bill which no one in Congress had the time to readÖisnít that what happened in front of our very eyes?

The bill, as I understand it, was about 1100 pages in length and came out of committee about fifteen hours before it was voted upon. Obviously no one in this country had a chance to read the thing in itís entirety before it came up for a vote. So, how can anyone say that the bill was passed with any level of understanding and comprehension? They canít. So how can any politician honestly tell us they are representing us in this largest of all tax bills?

I donít think they can. The current mentality seems to be something along the line of Ö ďWe must do something, even if itís wrong.Ē I donít agree. The free market will naturally correct itself, if left alone. People will buy and sell things when the prices for those things reach the correct level. Just because you buy a house does not mean that the house you bought is guaranteed to go up in value by 20% each and every year. This is foolish thinking and has gotten a lot of people into financial trouble. Once the housing market stabilizes and gets to the realistic true value of the properties, then the market will start to expand and grow once more. Pouring more money into it, does not solve the problem.

As I understand it, the bill that was passed this week also had a provision in it to assist homeowners whose houses were worth less than they owed. Under the bill that was passed, the government would come in and help those homeowners obtain a reduction on their monthly payments in order to allow the homeowner to stay in the house. My question is this. If we reduce the monthly payments, the mortgage companies take longer to get paid for their original outlay when the house was bought. Our mortgage payments usually include property taxes to our local counties. Will those be reduced as well? I donít think so. So, if the homeowner canít afford their payments and their taxes, will this not lead to more and more counties suffering financial difficulties and having to ask for governmental bailouts? Itís like buying a car and putting it on a 120 month note, just to keep the payments low. At some point in time the maintenance costs exceed the monthly note to the lender. None of us can drive a vehicle for ten or fifteen years without having to do some maintenance on it.

One other issue on taxes this week. The government is now testing a plan to tax our driving by the miles driven. It seems more and more of us arenít driving as much as we were a few years ago, or weíre buying vehicles that use less fuel, so the amount of dollars coming in from gasoline taxes has dropped off. The answer to this would be to tax us on the actual miles we drive each year.

Letís see, suppose I own a gas guzzler and I pay $2,000 a year in gasoline taxes. Then I buy a hybrid and my new efficient vehicle only requires enough gas to generate $500 in gasoline tax the next year. But, then here comes the government and they tax me for the miles actually driven in my vehicle so my tax bill goes up another $1500 a year based on my mileage. How is it Iím ahead of the game and rewarded for trying to do the right thing and buying a more expensive gas efficient vehicle? I thought the purpose of buying one in the first place was to increase my mileage and save myself some money. This doesnít look like it rewards me for doing the right thing.

I suppose it could be worse, just look at New York. Over there they are proposing a 4% increase in tax on anything downloaded from the internet, 4% increase in taxi fares. A 4% increase on the cost of cable for your house, an 18% increase on the cost of a soft drink and worst of all a double of the tax on beer.

Stayed tuned folks, weíre all in this together and we must not waver or surely weíll all go down together.

© Peary Perry
Letters From North America February 25, 2009 column
Syndicated weekly in 80 newspapers
Comments go to pperry@austin.rr.com
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