Tax cost much more than you think

We often pay taxes without realizing it. As an example, in New York state school districts and municipalities receive state aid for capital projects and because it doesn’t come out of local taxes, taxpayers are encouraged to think it’s a “freebie” that someone else pays for, when in fact it comes out of the general fund all taxpayers pay into.

School districts also receive aid from the state to help cover their budgets. Everyone thinks this is great because it helps to control the growth of local property taxes and in years when state aid is cut the weeping and gnashing of teeth can be heard all the way to California.

An important fact to remember about state aid is that it does not appear out of thin air. It has to be funded and who does that? We the taxpayers of New York provide that funding.

Under Gov. Cuomo’s “Start Up New York” program tax breaks are given to entice new businesses to New York. Sadly, we pay much more than a red cent for that. State politicians may give tax breaks to attract businesses but they never cut spending for their pet projects and programs. Who makes up the shortfall? Taxpayers do.

Cuomo recently got legislation passed whereby there will be free tuition at all state two- and four-year colleges and universities. Never mentioned was how this “freebie” would be funded.

Are staff and faculty going to take a pay cut or work for free? Not likely. Once again it will be the taxpayers who foot the bill. Parents might no longer have to write a check for tuition at a state school just a bigger check to cover their state taxes in the future. Now the poor parents whose child goes to a private school will be paying that private school tuition and also, through their taxes, the tuition at a state school for the kid down the block.

What is our real tax burden? A married couple filing jointly in Silver Creek with a total income of $65,000 pays $2,808 in state income taxes, $6,658 in federal income taxes, and $4,973 in payroll taxes for a total tax on income of $14,439.

However, that’s not all we pay. The average New Yorker also pays $1,327 in sales tax, $438 a year in fuel taxes and $6,980 in property taxes. And even that’s not all. New Yorkers also pay approximately $3.4 billion per year on taxes hidden away on our gas and electric bills, and an average of 24.4 percent in federal, state and local taxes on our wireless bills placing us lucky New Yorkers at third highest in the nation.

But that’s not the end of the story. We pay the highest excise tax on tobacco products either as a measure, on the part of Albany elites, to punish those who still smoke or to raise revenue on the backs of those they see as hopeless addicts. Then New York, in an effort at sleight of hand has seven states taxes that add up to a total tax on gasoline of 45 cents per gallon — highest in the nation.

Over the years I have come to believe that our representatives in Albany and Washington see us folks out here in the hinterland as not citizens but as strictly taxpayers who provide revenue for their pet programs and projects. When they tell us that they are cutting taxes they are really telling us that they are cutting the growth rate of taxes. Beware their attempts to “pull the wool over our eyes.”

At the risk of sounding like a cynic, I’ll bet that if the movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” starring Jimmy Stewart had covered the senator’s later career we would have found him authorizing the sale of the land his boy’s camp was on to the federal government for the storage of spent uranium fuel rods and making a tidy profit on the deal.

As citizens we have a duty to pay taxes to government for the services they render but I firmly believe that it is also our duty to not pay a red cent more than the law requires because we don’t want to encourage politicians.

Thomas Kirkpatrick Sr. is a Silver Creek resident. Send comments to editorial@observertoday.com

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