Monday, April 24, 2006

April 24, 2006 Death and Taxes


Consider This for April 24, 2006-Taxes

Colorado's is one of the lowest tax rates in the nation. Those of us who moved here from somewhere else can attest to this fact. Our property tax, sales tax and income tax are virtually nothing compared to the rest of the world. Yet people protest too much. A State Representative has been talking about temporarily reducing the Highway Users Tax Fund levy on the price of gas. It might reduce the price as much as 24 cents a gallon. I think it is a terrible idea. I would rather try to figure out a way to reduce the wholesale price of crude oil and make a permanent price reduction.The problem with the idea is that it is temporary. Imagine seeing the price of gas drop 24 cents a gallon. Drivers would welcome the savings. Then imagine putting the 24 cents back on the price of a gallon of gas a few months later. I can smell the boiling tar and chicken feathers now.Remember Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown? She always assured him she would not move it out of the way and would let him kick it. And then she would always move the football at the last minute causing Charlie to fall on his butt. Sounds like the temporary tax reduction on gasoline to me.A week ago today was the deadline for filing your income tax with the federal and state governments. We all got a couple of extra days because April 15 fell on Saturday this year. Whoopee. Two more days. Be still my heart.I filed my taxes a long time ago. Well, maybe not a long time ago, but several days before the deadline. I am way too anal and would wake up in the middle of the night thinking about deductions and hidden income and such. Not good for those long winter nights.I was telling a friend the other day about when I worked construction in Colorado and Wyoming in the 1970s and 1980s. Many of my coworkers would claim 20 deductions on their W-4s so that virtually nothing would be withheld from their paychecks during the year. Then they would never file a return. They would take the money and run. No taxes. Nada.My friend then went into a long discussion about how the employer has to report the income to the Internal Revenue Service and these employees would be caught eventually. I never heard of any of them being caught. Most of them lived like gypsies moving from community to community with no known address. They rented post office boxes and listed fictitious addresses on the box applications.During the most recent tax season, I read that most of the taxpayers who are audited make more than $100,000 a year. I guess their tax bills are large enough to warrant the time and effort to do the audit while persons making less pay fewer taxes.I am sure there are many exceptions.I also remember that the way they finally got rid of Al Capone was for tax evasion. He was a mass murderer and the head of all organized crime yet the only way they could convict him was to charge him with tax evasion. It was actually a death sentence. "Scarface" died of syphilis in federal prison serving his sentence.When I first went into law enforcement it was illegal to possess a fully automatic gun such as a Thompson submachine gun without a tax stamp. Of course they very seldom issued any tax stamps for machine guns.Another strange law was the requirement you needed then to grow marijuana. You needed a tax permit to grow marijuana.The Alcohol, Tax and Firearms (ATF) was charged with enforcement.I might be old fashioned, but I think taxes, even those on gasoline, are the price we pay for freedom. It is the price we pay to live in the best country in the world, and in the best state in the nation and in the best county in Colorado. We should all be smiling each time we have to pay our taxes. It is nothing to lose sleep over. Now if I say that often enough maybe it might put me to sleep. Something like counting sheep. State Rep. Gary Lindstrom of Lakeview Meadows represents Summit, Eagle and Lake counties. He writes a Monday column. He can be reached at gary@garylindstrom.com

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