Tax pain cuts less deeply than before

The United States is a nation founded by tax dissidents.

So it should not be any wonder that 237 years later we still are a nation complaining about taxes – those imposed by our own government, not by King George.

You’ve got until today at midnight to get your annual tax headache completed and in the mail, barring any extensions you might have obtained.

There are a few academics who contend taxpayers feel lousy about Tax Day because of a failure to realize that taxes are the price of admission for being an American. A Duke University professor, Lawrence Zelenak, and the Columbia University law school dean, David Scheizer, are quoted in a Boston Globe story about changing the approach to Tax Day. The contention is that a bit of public relations, including a clear statement of where our taxes go, perhaps in the form of a receipt to each taxpayer, might help change attitudes.

A PR campaign also could be too much like government propagandization, which Americans never, ever take to very well, nor would such a campaign change the perception of government being too big, too wasteful and too partisan. The campaign itself probably would be rife with overspending, corruption and partisan gamesmanship.

So, Americans may never feel great about Tax Day, but it is possible, thanks to the nonprofit, nonpartisan Tax Foundation, to have a basic measure of tax intrusion. The think tank, based in Washington, grew out of business leaders’ concerns in 1937 when they had observed federal spending growing 170 percent in 10 years and federal revenue collections rising 198 percent in five years, amid the backdrop of the Great Depression.

This is how we measure Tax Freedom Day, the day of the year on which the average American has earned enough to pay all state, federal and local taxes, including income, sales, property and other taxes.

In Ohio that day occurred Friday. In West Virginia, it will be Friday. In Pennsylvania, it will be Wednesday. Nationally, Tax Freedom Day is April 18, five days later than last year, thanks to the fiscal cliff deal and Obamacare’s investment and excise tax, the foundation noted.

Still, we’re better than back in 2000, when Tax Freedom Day was May 1, a third of the way into the year, a third of American income going to government spending and borrowing.

That knowledge does not change the overall theme of government-inflicted pain on April 15. At least the pain cuts a little less deeply than it did at the turn of the century.