On “tax freedom”

democracy, inequality, tax freedom day

Hack Freedom Day!

Today is supposedly “Tax Freedom Day“. In theory, it’s the first day of 2013 when the money you make goes to YOU alone.

It makes for a snappy headline, and that’s about all this misleading and scab-picking idea does. But it’s enough to make it a ubiquitous yearly pseudo-event. ‘Mark your calendars!’ I love that each country is given a ‘tax freedom’ date, with no regard to social equality, the state of its democracy, disease and child mortality rates, and general well-being there.

The fact that each year, the date in question comes a bit later (this year, it was 2 days further into the year than last year’s Tax Freedom Day), drives us mad at all the taxes we pay, leading to calls for (C)onservative-style restraint, which in practice is increasing  tax credits to the 1%: the wealthiest, and to huge corporations, especially the ones that ruin our environment for us all.

Some of the problems with this concept include the fact that if we didn’t pay tax, we also would not get the benefits of doing so in terms of services, infrastructure, etc. Our society, communities, and individual lives would be very different if tax freedom day came on January 22, like it supposedly did in the year 1900.

The trend has been to look at how the taxes (some of us) pay is spent, but why not look at the fact that so many huge earners pay so little tax, while simultaneously having great power over our elected officials via lobbying and gift-giving in exchange for little favours. But “tax freedom day” is a nice, easy distraction that leads to powerlessness in those who are paying a larger part of our wages toward taxes and it feeds into a justifiable ‘something’s wrong here’ feeling, except what’s wrong is actually the inequality inherent to our tax system with its loopholes for the few.

This explains the justifiable general malaise that led to the Occupy Movement. So, maybe let’s call it ”Tax Inequality Day’, or ‘The Day We Pay Out Cash to Help The 1% Make Record Profits”, but then every day is that.