By Kasey Ninneman, Guest Writer
Lets face it: No one likes taxes, and it’s easy to make the IRS out to be a villain. Some people even see tax avoidance as a virtue. But pick a government program you agree with: the military, healthcare, border security, public schools. Tax dodgers rob from them all. They rob from you! They rob from all of us who do not cheat, and cause the tax burden to fall more heavily on our shoulders.
Taxes allow the government to perform the functions we expect; like funding schools, the military and public infrastructure. For instance, let’s look at the price tag of a few programs that could affect college students directly. Bernie Sander’s proposed College for All Act, to eliminate undergraduate tuition and fees at public colleges and universities, would cost $47 billion per year. The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which allowed students to stay on their parent’s healthcare plan until they are 26, will cost $34.6 billion next year, according to estimates by the Joint Committee on Taxation. Those are some big bills, but the lost revenue due to tax avoidance could easily pay for them both and still have more than $100 billion left.
In America there is a cottage industry for corporations and the wealthy to avoid paying taxes. According to Forbes, “the United States experiences the highest annual corporate tax losses of any country by far with an estimated $189 billion unaccounted for every year.” The New York Times recently reported that our president has skipped out on nearly $498 million in taxes. Most people can’t even imagine having that kind of money. Surely those who already avoid $189 billion in taxes don’t need an additional tax break, but in 2017 congress passed the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” which did just that.
The Congressional Budget Office has estimated the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” to cost $1.9 trillion over ten years. This figure includes assumed economic growth over that period. The non-partisan think tank Tax Policy Center has shown that this year under the new tax plan people earning over a million dollars will receive 16.5 percent of the tax cut, even though they only account for 0.4 percent of all tax-filers. By 2027, their share will have increased to 81.8 percent, while 53 percent of people in lower tax brackets will be subject to a tax increase.
You may disagree with the premise of lost revenue paying for programs you don’t agree with. However, even if we didn’t decide to spend on social welfare programs, the year-end report from the Treasury Department shows our country is running a $778 billion deficit. The deficit is the difference between how much money the government spends compared to how much money it takes in. This difference is added to the national debt, which is currently approaching $22 trillion! Does this sound like a time when we should be giving away money to the wealthy?
If you feel like the government isn’t acting in our best interests there is something you can do about it… Vote! The more people participate in our system, the more Congress will reflect the values of the country. Our country went to war over unfair taxation without representation. But today only 37 percent of people will vote for their own representation when it literally just takes a few moments. Remember that elections are important, and your voice is powerful. Make a plan to vote. Take a friend, go with your family, or vote early on campus (Building 5 Room 1220). Just vote!