Old Ben Franklin Was Right: Death and Taxes Will Be With Us Always

By Joe Darby

So, how did you all come out on your income taxes? I had to pay. Almost $700!
The number is that high not because of the huge size of our income, but because the company administering my pension was not taking enough withholdings out every month. That was my own fault, of course, because you can direct whatever amount you want to be taken out.

I liked having a little more money available each month, but I finally saw the light and told them to take out $60 more per month this year. So, next spring I should just about come out even. or maybe even get a small amount back.
I tried to assuage my grief at having to pay Uncle Sam by imagining that my dollars were going to pay for one tiny part of an F-22 fighter jet or to pay for a load of beef for the crew of a Navy aircraft carrier. Something worthwhile, don’t you see.

But I think all of us have a natural resentment of the government taking our hard-earned money. But, civilization, if that’s what you can call what our society has, must have money to function, alas.

The thing is, we’re hit from so many sources. Every governmental body from the local fire and police districts and school boards to the state, with its sales, property and income taxes, to the giant outstretched hand of the federal government, wants its share of our income.

This is all nothing new, of course. Governments have collected taxes since there were governments. And people have never liked it. Some folks in the Bible were amazed that Jesus would hang around with tax collectors because they were considered the lowest of the low.

In those days the king’s taxman would take a good portion or your wheat or barley crop and there was not a thing you could do about it, not if you wanted to keep your head on your shoulders.

We in the United States didn’t have to worry about federal income taxes until the Civil War, when both the US and the Confederacy imposed such taxes. The US tax expired in 1872. Then, when another attempt was made to impose an income tax early in the 20th century, the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional. However, the 16th Amendment, passed in 1913, gave Congress the permission to collect an income tax.

By the way, here’s a Did You Know for you. Until the Civil War, the great majority of the federal government’s income came from tariffs, taxes imposed on goods imported and exported to other countries. And, yeah, we had a small budget in those days.

So, we are reminded every week in our paychecks, and especially every April 15, that what’s ours is not necessarily all ours. And when we say we made $30,000 or $50,000 or $125,000 last year, that’s just what we mean. We MADE that much, but we sure didn’t get to keep it all.

But, there’s nothing to be done. The next time firefighters put out a burning house in your neighborhood, the next time you drive on an Interstate, the next time you enjoy a state museum, the next time the American military wipes out a terrorist cell, you can know that all of this was done with your tax dollar.

To repeat my headline, Ben Franklin was right. One day we’re gonna die. And April 15 will certainly roll around again next year.