We accept death and taxes as a fact of life and during this election year, especially as it draws to a close, we seem to be bombarded with the advantages of both higher and lower taxes.
Keeping the Bush tax cuts is the battle cry of one side while the other side demands these tax cuts expire.
There is a great deal to criticize in our present day tax code; it is much too long for one thing, but it may make more sense than some of the taxes put upon taxpayers past. Those in charge, including rulers and politicians, have been quick to levy taxes.
Taxes have been collected since 3000 BC when the Egyptians taxed a number of items, including cooking oil. Tax collectors, called scribes, went house to house to be sure citizens were not reusing the cooking oil, thereby not having to pay the tax.
Most of the time, the purpose of a tax is for the revenue it generates but there are times it serves another need. Back in 1705, Peter the Great of Russia, placed a beard tax on the men of Russia in an attempt to make the Russian look more like the Europeans who did not have beards.
Only priests and peasants were exempt from this tax and could wear their beards but others had to pay a large tax and wear a medallion around his neck as proof that he had paid his tax.
Taxes were often the final straw that led to rebellion. The Stamp Act of 1765 imposed on the new American Colonies by King George III of Britian for the purpose of helping to pay for the British troops stationed in North America after the British won the Seven Year War was a major grievance that led up to the American Revolution.
The taxpayer is confronted with sales tax, income tax and, on occasion, a luxury tax. He pays tax on his driver’s license, hunting license, and a transportation tax when staying in a hotel as well as assorted other taxes.
But, the average citizen probably has no idea just how fortunate he is because there are seemingly millions of taxes on the books, many we are not aware that we are paying.
In Alabama we must pay 10 cents tax on a deck of cards, but this tax is only to apply to packs having “no more than 54 cards,” so if you find a pack containing 55 cards, you are tax-free.
In Kentucky, you pay a candy tax on Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, but not on a Mars Milky way because of the complicated wording of the bill.
Maine has a blueberry tax and New York City has a bagel tax; the bagel purchased and taken home is not taxable, but if you eat it at a bagel shop, you pay a tax.
Taxes literally are on almost everything somewhere: sex, illegal drugs, death, tanning, even haunted houses.
And now, this July, the United Nations called on the more wealthy nations to do more to help nations less fortunate. One suggestion was a billionaire’s tax which would generate more than $400 million a year.
The United States has an estimated 425 billionaires, Asia-Pacific has 315, 310 in Europe, 90 in other North American and South American countries and 86 in Africa and the Middle East.
Most people, other than possibly the billionaires, would not consider this an outrageous tax, but there are many other taxes being actually levied that may not seem as impartial.
More attention should be given to the current battle being waged by the Obama and Romney camps and see if we can make any sense of it. Then, vote and don’t worry unless, of course, you are one of those billionaires.
Bita Bullet is the pen name of a local anonymous writer who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org