Robbery Report 2018: Harmful and Wasteful Tax Spending

Conner Drigotas | @cdrigs44

In 2018 I worked for 2,230.05 hours. An average of 46.46 hours per week for the 48 weeks I worked this year between February 1 and December 31. In the month of January, I was interviewing for the job I started in February.

I track my work hours meticulously. I am required to as part of my job at a law firm, even though I am not a lawyer.

In every hour that I worked this year, the government stole $12.48 from my paycheck. They then used that money to invade foreign countries, build bombs, and pay the salaries of people I do not trust.

I had a total of $21,914.49 taken from me in federal, state, and local income taxes. That is a total of 26.7% of the $82,010.94 I worked hard to earn in 2018.

I then paid another $2804.81 in school taxes, $555.77 in county taxes, and $847.40 in city taxes.

That brings my total tax bill so far to $26.122.47 (31.85% total tax rate)

I was hit with $707.88 in vehicle sales tax.
I was forced into an extra roughly $1009.92 in sales tax (I accounted for Pennsylvania’s 6% sales tax rather than do the math based on county spending. Philadelphia adds another 2% for purchases made in the city.)

This number does not account for Pennsylvania’s gas tax rate ($0.587 per gallon) which is the highest in the country. That number does not account for any of the propane taxes, specialty item taxes, fees, tolls, or other state-imposed costs that I could also factor in.

That brings the conservative estimate for taxes in 2018 to $27,840.27 (33.95% total tax rate, or $12.48 out of every hour I worked in 2018.)This math is being done AFTER filing, there is no potential return to calculate against, nothing else can be written off.

Real, Back-breaking Tax Numbers

In 2018, for the first three hours of every work day, I essentially worked for the government.

That tax bill is an astounding detriment to me and my young family. I am getting married in July and as you may have heard, weddings are expensive. With that $27,840.27 I could pay for my entire wedding in cash and have money left over, easily. I have been working since I was in high school and have filed taxes every year since 2007. The total amount of money that I have paid in taxes is enough to buy my current house in cash, and then some.

The worst part isn’t the short terms costs?—?but the long term damages. If I were to fully fund my SIMPLE IRA ($13,000 annually in 2019), my Roth IRA ($6,000 annually in 2019), and pay my living expenses?—?I would have a cash shortfall. By taking so much money from my paycheck, the government is limiting my ability to fully fund my retirement accounts and making it more likely that I would have to rely on assistance (though, in reality, I can assure you that will not be the case).

The decision-makers in Washington are claiming to create a social safety net while preventing me from creating my own. They are creating dependence and vulnerability, even among relatively high earners. According to the Wall Street Journal, my income puts me in the top 12% of earners nationally. (Though I drop to the top 28% among white male millennials with advanced degrees, according to the same calculator.)

Damages of Robbery

The long-term damages of taxation are astronomical. If I were to invest that $27,840.27 in my savings account (I get a 2.20% interest rate at Ally Bank) I would have $56,251.85 on the day I turned 60, without adding another penny. If you assume my tax owed amount will stay consistent, and I added $27,840.27 to that same savings account every year, and the interest was only compounded on the first of every year, on the day I turned 60?—?I would have $1.33 Million in my savings account ($410,762 would be purely earned interest).

If I had the freedom to take that money and invest it in the market at a conservative annual average return of 6.5% at age 60 I would have $2,990,000.

And if I could get a 10% return (roughly the S&P500 average return since 1928) that number at age 60 would be $6,190,000 dollars. Only using tax dollars.

When the government robs you, it’s not really the money they are taking in that year that is damaging?—?it is the compound interest that is robbing you of your financial future.

Remember, those calculations don’t account for any other normal IRA or 401(k) contributions. That is exclusively using the money they took in taxes.

There are millions of reasons to be angry.

Misdirected Money

For you it may be a growing frustration that your dollars go toward entitlement programs; for others it may be a frustration that your money is going to fight wars; and for others still it may be that your money which is currently going to Uncle Sam would be better used to feed your family, or invested in improving your local community. It is undeniable that we will never universally agree on how the government should use tax money. Whatever your reason, just remember?—?it’s no mistake that tax day and Election Day are a full six months and 21 days apart?—?it would be dangerous for Washington if the general public attributed tax day with the power of the vote.

Even if you count yourself among those who believe that taxation is justified and needed, know that your opinion is not universally shared. There is a better way to care for the wellbeing of our friends and neighbors than outsourcing the responsibility to a fat cat bureaucrat in DC. No matter how much money we give, less comes out on the other end to help people.

Government officials are the middlemen. Robin Hood stole from the crown to give back to the people. The modern-day kings who take under threat of violence go by the name: IRS.

Solving Problems Without Taxation

There are voluntary ways to fund causes. Look at GoFundMe, for example. We could eliminate taxation and allow people to contribute their hard earned money to the causes they believe in.

If you would like to fix homelessness, donate to that cause. National defense? Give money to that cause. Social security? Donate to that cause. Universal healthcare? Donate to that cause. Vote with your dollars. That which is important will receive funding, voluntarily. The result would be a smaller government bureaucracy, but better care and services for those in need.

Almost all of us are seeking to improve human lives and raise up all people. There is simply a disagreement on the best method to make that happen. It is a crisis that instead of working in our communities, we have allowed an inefficient behemoth in Washington to pick winners and losers.

This is about respect for the rights of all people, not just those with whom we agree. Respect your neighbor’s right to give money in your community instead of to the military industrial complex. Respect your neighbor’s right to feed her own bank accounts instead of bailouts for big banks. And respect your coworker’s desire to contribute to charities he believes in, rather than contributing to the $223,500 annual salary of the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Every social service that the government provides could become a nonprofit organization overnight; in all likelihood, it would operate more efficiently than it does now. The money you work so hard for is going to waste. The state is running it through the bureaucracy washing machine and it’s coming out less valuable. Giving money to Washington means less money for the homeless, the hungry, and every cause you care about funding.

Wasteful Tax Spending

The money that you must to give to the government (or risk going to jail) is not helping people. I genuinely understand the argument that taxes build roads and help people who have it hard in life. Giving to causes that fix social woes is important?—?I give money to causes because I want to see a change in my community. Taxes, however, are among the least efficient ways to fix problems:

$874,000: Tax dollars to study the sex habits of quails on cocaine.

$2,400,000: Tax dollars to study daydreaming.

$76,000,000: Tax dollars to pay stipends to soldiers in the Somali National Army.

If you care about your neighbors and the well being of all people, demand control over your money and your life.

When I consider how lucky I am in my life, financially and otherwise, and I feel how difficult it is for me to fully fund my retirement accounts and plan for the future?—?it makes me question whether the powers that be truly have my best interests at heart. There are millions who make less money than I do, millions more who are not saving and investing, millions who are not financially educated, and millions of others who will get smart about money too late and miss the opportunity to leverage compound interest for retirement savings.

The irony of the personal finance crisis, the tax crisis, the debt crisis, and our national moral crisis, is that those who claim to have our best interests at heart are causing it.

So, do you trust a politician to do the right thing? Think hard, for you could be betting $6,190,000 of your own money.

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