April brings us taxes and ‘freedom’

Published 7:00 pm Wednesday, April 3, 2013

It’s April, and besides a truckload of pollen for us allergy sufferers, April Fool’s Day jokes from clever tricksters, and those showers that bring the flowers, this month also brings that old two-step to get the income tax forms done.

I took a lot of English classes in college because I liked to write even back then, and I remember reading a long poem called “The Waste Land” by T.S. Eliot (one “T,” the professor used to remind us) that had the memorable line, “April is the cruelest month ….”

It seemed strange to me back at the time, since April was such a beautiful month with its floral abundance, but I had to remember he was writing in a much colder place.

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There was a lot more to the poem than that, but those words stuck with me and come back with a vengeance now when the oak trees start blooming and my eyes burn and the sniffles and sneezes start going.

And then, smack dab in the middle of April is the tax deadline. Somehow despite all my good intentions, I’m nearly right up to April 15 – as I am now – and the tax forms still haven’t been done.

Oh, all the records are there on scraps of paper and receipts stashed in a bulging folder in my filing cabinet, but digging through them and making sense of them are chores that I have yet to do.

Then just as I was thinking about grabbing another tissue, in comes a real day brightener of an e-mail popping up in my work inbox Tuesday.

The e-mail informed me of yet another milestone in April – America’s Tax Freedom Day.

This is the national day, which this year arrives on April 18, when, according to an organization called the Tax Foundation, Americans will finally have earned enough to pay the money in taxes that they owe Uncle Sam, the state and local governments this year.

The news in the e-mail just got worse. This year’s Tax Freedom Day arrived five days later than in 2012. Which means, taxpayers are paying more this year than last.

According to the Tax Foundation, Americans pay a total tax bill of $4.2 trillion. That amounts to 29.4 percent of the total income of all those taxpayers.

In other words, we pay nearly a third of our income in taxes, according to the foundation.

The e-mail did contain some good news as I read toward the end. Mississippi and Louisiana have one of the lowest tax levels, and we Magnolia State residents passed our own Tax Freedom Day last week, on March 29, first in line in the U.S. along with Louisiana!

Residents of Tennessee also can breathe a sigh of relief – their Tax Freedom Day was Tuesday.

Thank goodness, I don’t live in one of the Northeastern states. New Jersey’s Tax Freedom Day comes on May 4, New York’s on May 6 and Connecticut’s on May 13.

The Tax Foundation’s e-mail went on to say that the organization is “a nonpartisan research organization that has monitored fiscal policy at the federal, state and local levels since 1937.”

If you want to check the survey out, you can go to taxfreedomday.org.

I don’t think founding father Benjamin Franklin had any idea what was in the future when he came up with that nifty phrase, “Time is money,” but you have to wonder.

Rachel Eide is editor/general manager of The Daily Leader. Contact her at rachel.eide@dailyleader.com.