Tax time good time to count blessings

Next time you’re tempted to whine about how much you pay in taxes, you might reconsider with this information: “Tax Freedom Day” for Alaskans falls on Saturday this year. For most Americans, the date is April 18. And for the unlucky folks who live in Connecticut the day doesn’t arrive until May 13.

The Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan research organization, calculates Tax Freedom Day for each state and the nation as a whole. They define the day as “the date on which Americans will have earned enough money to pay this year’s tax obligations at the federal, state and local levels.”

States where the Tax Freedom Day milestone arrives earlier than it does in Alaska  include Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, South Carolina, Arizona, New Mexico and South Dakota.

The Tax Foundation shares this info about taxes:

• Americans will work five days later this year than they did in 2012 to pay all of their taxes. The total tax bill at all levels comes to approximately $4.2 trillion, or 29.4 percent of their total income.

• Americans will pay more in taxes this year than they will spend on food, clothing and housing combined.

• Americans will work 14 days to pay sales and excise taxes, 12 days to pay property taxes and seven days to pay other miscellaneous taxes, such as estate taxes, car taxes and severance taxes. 

• Americans will work 25 days to pay their payroll  taxes, which are dedicated to such programs as Social Security and Medicare.

• The latest-ever nationwide Tax Freedom Day was May 1, 2000; that meant Americans paid one-third of their total income in taxes. In 1900, Americans paid 5.9 percent of their income in taxes, which would have put Tax Freedom Day on Jan. 22.

• Alaska is one of only seven states that does not collect an individual income tax. The others are Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.

• With no state sales tax or use tax, Alaska’s local governments collect $484 per person in general sales taxes and $471 per person in excise taxes, for a combined figure of $955, which ranks fifth lowest nationally. 

• At 8 cents per gallon, Alaska’s gasoline tax is the lowest in the nation; its $2 cigarette tax is the 10th highest in the nation.

• Alaska’s corporate income tax system has a top rate of 9.4 percent. That rate ranks fifth highest among states levying a corporate income tax.

While no one likes to pay taxes, they are, as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said in the 1920s, the price of a civilized society. As we prepare to put our tax returns in the mail to Uncle Sam and, in general, say no to more taxes, it’s worth remembering it could be worse, a lot worse. 

Tax time is a good time to count our blessings.