The Government takes as much of our money as possible. Now they are telling us how we spend what’s left over.
The U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics latest—2009, which seems about how long it would take a U.S. Department of Anything to produce something— Consumer Expenditure Survey details “U.S. Consumer Unit Expenditures” and “average annual expenditures and percent totals.”
Here are the percentages by category, fellow “Units”:
·34.1%: Housing (shelter; utilities, fuels and public services; household operations; furnishings; and housekeeping supplies
·17.6%: Transportation (vehicle purchases; gas, oil, and maintenance; and other transportation expenses)
·12.4%: Food (at home and away from home)
·10.8%: Insurance, Pensions, Life and other personal insurance
·3.8%: Apparel and Services
·3.7%: Cash contributions
·1.2%: Personal Care Products and Services
·0.9%: Alcoholic Beverages
Added up, it totals 100%.
Missing from the big pie chart is any mention of the percentage of income taxes paid by the average “U.S. Consumer Unit”—“expenditures” also known as the mandatory payments legally withheld from gross income by the Government, states and paid to local municipalities.
What a major victory it was for the Government when mandatory withholding was established in 1943. If the average “Unit” had to calculate and make quarterly tax payments, write a check payable to the U.S. Treasury, put a stamp on it and mail it, there might be a another Tea Party like the one in Boston.
But I digress…
We use net income, after tax dollars (ATDs), what’s left over after Uncle Sam gets his piece of the pieto pay for our “Unit Expenditures” and to pay for additional taxes on taxable items, varying by state.
We’re not just paying at the gas pump. We’re paying for other imposed taxes with ATDs, directly or indirectly. Here a tax, there a tax, everywhere there’s a tax, tax, tax.
Batteries, Bed linens (sheets, pillowcases, etc.), Books (except for serial comic books and crossword puzzle magazines), Calcium fluoride (for melting ice), Candles, Carpet fresheners, Chalk, Charcoal, Christmas trees (live and artificial) and Christmas tree ornaments, Cigarette lighters, Clock radios, Clocks, Clothing (gloves, hats, socks, shoes, underwear, etc.), Coffee makers, Comic books (non-serial), Compact discs, Computer discs, Cookbooks, Cookware, Correction fluid (e.g., White-Out), Crayons, Cutlery, Date books, Diaries, Dish detergent, Disposable cigarette lighters, Envelopes, Erasers, Flashlights, Flatware, Flower pots. Flower seeds, Folders, Footwear (all types), Furniture (e.g., folding chairs), Furniture polish, wax, etc., Garden furniture, seed packets, tools and supplies, Gift wrap, Glue, Greeting cards, Highlighters, Hosiery, Household cleaners and deodorizers, Housewares, Ice (including ice cubes, ice chunks, ice blocks, and chipped ice), Ink, Ink pens, Kitchen appliances and utensils, Lead pencils, Lighter fluid, Loose-leaf binders and paper, Lunch boxes, Magic Markers, Manila folders, Mechanical pencils, Memo pads, Microwave cookware, Notebooks, Paper clips, Paper plates and cups, Pens and pencils, Photography equipment (disposable cameras, instant cameras, still cameras, etc.), Photography supplies (film, flash bulbs, flash cubes, etc.), Picnic Accessories (jugs, flatware, cutlery, etc.) and baskets, Plants, Plastic ware, Playing cards, Radios, Reading glasses (non-prescriptive), Rock salt, Room fresheners and deodorizers, Scales (kitchen or bathroom) Sewing notions (needles, thread, thimbles, etc.), Shoe laces, Shoes, Silverware, Snow shovels, Staplers and staples, Stationery, Stereos, Sunglasses (non-prescription), Table linens, Tableware, Thermos bottles, cups, jars, etc., Torch lights, Toys, Underwear, Video cassette recorders and tapes, Watches, Wrapping paper, and Writing tablets.
“COSMETICS & TOILETRIES
After shave creams, lotions, moisturizers and powders, Almond meal and almond paste, Antiperspirants and deodorants, Astringents, Bath crystals, milks, oils, powders, salts, tablets and bubble bath, Bay rum, Beauty creams, Bleaching creams and lotions, Body powders, Bouquet liquids, Breath fresheners and sweeteners, Brilliantine, Cleansing creams and lotions, Closet deodorants, Cold creams, Colognes, Combs, Compact refills, Cosmetic stockings, Cuticle removers and softeners, Dental floss and dental cleaners, Depilatories, Dusting powders, Eau de cologne, Essences and extracts, Exfoliants, Eye shadow, Eyebrow brushes, dyes, and pencils, Eyelash dye and mascara, Face cream and lotions, Face packs, powder and facial oil, Finger wave lotions, Floral essences, Foundation makeup, Freckle remover, Fuller’s earth, Hair bleach, brushes, combs, dressing, dye, gel, lotion, and oils, Hair pomade, remover, and restorative, Hair rinse, spray, straightener, tint, and tonic, Hand cream and lotion, Henna, Lavender, Lip ice, pomade, lipstick, lipstick refills and liquid lip color, Liquid face powder, liquid stockings, Manicure preparations, Mascara, Mask preparations, Massage cream, Mittens containing toilet powder, Moisturizers, Mousse, Mouthwash, Mustache wax, Nail bleach, brushes, enamel, lacquer, polish, polish remover and whitener, Olive oil (if scent or color added), Orris root, Pancake makeup, Perfume, perfume kits, and perfume novelties, Permanent wave neutralizers, waving cream, waving kits, and waving lotion, Peroxide (if for use in bleaching the hair or for other toiletry purposes), Petroleum jelly (if scent or color added), Plucking cream, Pore cleanser, Powder base, Pumice stones, Rock salt bath crystals, Rose water, Rouge, Sachets (containing powder or other aromatic material), Shampoo (non-medicated), Shaving cream and shaving preparations, Skin balm, Skin bleach, cream, lotion, oil, tonic, and whitener, Stain removers, Talcum powder, Texture cream, Tissue cream, Toilet ammonia, cream, lanolin, and water, Tooth powder, toothpaste and toothbrushes, Vanishing cream, Water softener, Wave set, Witch hazel, and Wrinkle-concealing preparations
“MEDICAL EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES
Air conditioners, purifiers and cleaners, Athletic supports, Basins, Bathtub safety rails and safety seats, Bed baths, Blackhead removers, Braille books and games, Cast cutters, Cotton (unsterile) and unsterile cotton balls and swabs, Dehumidifiers, Dental Floss, dental cushions, and dental liners, Ear plugs and stopples, Emesis basins, Exercise equipment, Fans, Feminine hygiene syringes, Foot baths, Funnels, Garter belts, Gloves, Grab bars, Heaters and humidifiers, I.D. bracelets (medical), Massage devices, Mattress covers, Medical charts and diaries, Nose clips and shields, Nursers (baby bottles) and nursing pads, Orthopedic mattresses, Over bed tables, Pads for eyeglasses, Parallel bars, Plaster bandages and splints, Plastic sheets, Poison records, Posture shorts and support chairs, Prep brushes (surgical), Pumice, Rubber gloves and sheets, Sanitary napkins, Skin removers, Straws, Sun lamps and sun lamp goggles, Sunglasses (non-prescriptive), Tongue blades and depressors, Tweezers, Ultraviolet lamps, Veterinary equipment, instruments and supplies, Vibrators, Wheelchair trays, Whirlpool baths, concentrate, and pumps.
“FOOD & BEVERAGES
Beer, Bottled water, Candied apples, Candy, confectionery and candy bars, Candy jellies, Caramel, caramels, and caramel-coated popcorn, Carbonated beverages and water, Chewing gum, Chocolate, chocolate candy, chocolate-coated nuts, raisins, and pretzels, Coated candies and coated candy, Cocktail mixes and Collins mixer, Cranberry juice cocktails, Cream candies, Dietetic candy, carbonated beverages, and soft drinks, Fountain drinks (e.g., sodas, milkshakes, etc.), French burnt peanuts, Fruit drinks containing less than 70% natural fruit juice, Fruit nectars and punch less than 70% fruit juice, Fudge, Gatorade, Glazed fruit, Hard candy, Hi-C, Honey-roasted peanuts, Ice and ice cubes, Ice cream cones and sodas, Jelly beans, Jordan almonds, Kool-Aid, Licorice, Maple sugar candy, Mineral water, Nougats, Nuts (chocolate or candy coated), Orange Crush, Pet food and supplies, Seltzer water, Soft drinks, Sugar-coated nuts and raisins, Toffee, Vegetable plants and seeds used to grow, Vichy water, Water, and Yoo Hoo (assorted flavors).”
Here is a sampling of a few other taxes and fees we pay with ATDs:
Mobile phones: a Federal Universal Service Charge, Regulatory Recovery Fee, State Gross Receipts Surcharges, the 911 Service Fee, and a State Telecom Tax;
Energy: State tax surcharge;
Cable: Sales tax, FCC Regulatory Fee, Franchise Fee, and a 911 fee.
The Regulatory Recovery Fees paid on mobile phones, cable service, etc., is not a tax or government-mandated charge; rather, it is imposed by the service provider to defray regulatory costs such as state universal services, relay services, and certain state and local utility fees.
Whether our“U.S. Consumer Unit Expenditures” align with theConsumer Expenditure Survey calculations and regardless of what income tax bracket we are assigned, taxes in any form must be paid.
The first bite, taken from gross income, may be the worst, but the bleeding continues from all the other taxes and fees we pay.
And it isn’t about to change. Chumming for our ATDs continues. There are always more tax increases, universal service charges, fees, etc., on the horizon.
By the way, there is no such thing as an average U.S. tax bracket. Taxpayers pay the tax rate determined by gross income, minus the allowable deductions.Taxes are imposed mandatorily for individuals and range from 0-35% federally and 0-11% by the state.
If you don’t know there are penalties for not filing tax returns, filing late returns, and that certain “intentional” failings are subject to jail time, you’re either in big trouble or living in one of the countries with no extradition treaties with the U.S.
According to the Internal Revenue Service’s official boowah, bushwah, blah blah, “The failure-to-file penalty is calculated based on the time from the deadline of your tax return (including extensions) to the date you actually filed your tax return. The penalty is 5% for each month the tax return is late, up to a total maximum penalty of 25%. The percentage is the tax due as shown on the tax return. If your tax return is more than five months late, simply multiply your balance due by 25% to calculate your failure to file penalty.
“The failure-to-pay penalty is calculated based on the amount of tax you owe. The penalty is 0.5% for each month the tax is not paid in full. There is no maximum limit to the failure-to-pay penalty.The penalty is calculated from the original payment deadline (the original April 15th filing deadline) until the balance due is paid in full.
“Interest is calculated based on how much tax you owe. Interest rates change every three months. Currently, the IRS interest rate for underpayment of tax is 4% per year. The interest is calculated for each day your balance due is not paid in full.
“IRS interest rates are variable and are set quarterly” because “they” make the rules.
Taxing times and circumstances, indeed.
June Smith is the widow WBAL talk show host and Sun columnist, Ron Smith, who posthumously received an Emmy® for his lifetime achievement in television and radio at WBAL in Baltimore, MD. Smith was a media titan in the central Maryland area and beyond for almost forty years. Mrs. Smith’s tribute website honoring his legacy is www.FriendsofRonSmith.com.She is working diligently to raise one million dollars for the Ron Smith Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund at Johns Hopkins. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.