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The income tax: NH's lack of one isn't luck

April 14. 2013 3:25PM

Today is Tax Day, when we render unto Caesar that which is his, or at least that which our Congress has decreed we must render. We spend a lot of time doing it. It costs Americans 6.1 billion hours every year to comply with the U.S. tax code, according to the IRS's taxpayer advocate. That is because there are so many rules.

As Deroy Murdock writes in his column, the tax code is just shy of 74,000 pages long. Since 2000, Congress has made almost 5,000 changes to the code, or about a change a day, according to the taxpayer advocate. Americans are supposed to keep up with all of those changes, to be aware of all of those rules. Ignorance of the law, including the tax law, is no excuse.

No wonder Americans have to spend so much money on software providers or tax preparers just to make sure they don't make any mistakes when filing their income taxes. (In 2010, Americans spent $168 billion to comply with the tax code, according to the IRS.)

And even when we use the software or pay an accountant, we still might get it wrong. Just ask Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

The nightmare that is the U.S. tax code is duplicated on a smaller scale in 41 states. Most Americans have to comply with two income tax codes. Some have to comply with three or even four. Every county in Indiana and Maryland imposes an income tax, according to the Tax Foundation. Nearly 600 Ohio municipalities have an income tax, and almost 500 Pennsylvania school districts do!

You might think to yourself, "Whew! I am so lucky to live in New Hampshire!" But luck has nothing to do with it. New Hampshire has no income tax by design. We have kept it that way by keeping spending low. As the late Gov. Mel Thomson said, low taxes are the result of low spending. That is not luck. It is hard work. And that is something the people of New Hampshire must never forget.


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