As the tax deadline draws near, it’s time to consider reforms

T. Horne, Staff Writer

There is plenty to talk about when it comes to taxes, much the same as it has always been. In many past societies, people felt as though they were being taxed unfairly and to no advantage of the people. As a collective, we push for taxes to be used in ways we agree with… if the rate of taxation for many in the U.S. is not to change. 

Many solutions arise in conversation of taxes. Some of the popular possibilities include lower federal taxes or state taxes across the board, cease taxation all together and rely on independent gratuitous contributions, private law and defense fees, lotteries and other additional charges on services.  

Some support higher taxation rates for higher incomes, which is also a simple phrase: “Tax the rich.” Some have proposed to make certain areas opt-in or opt-out, and yet another proposal is that the taxpayer chooses where their taxes go and what it is used for. 

I have a slight preference for the latter. The local economy of where I grew up, Green Bay, is fueled by it. In many municipalities, there is an added .5 percent sales tax to support the football stadium, Lambeau.  

I actually hate that. I don’t think my taxes should be going to a sports team. I would much rather my taxes went to infrastructure directly. I would have gleefully signed paperwork to have my taxes moved from the stadium to road work and I’m sure there are those who would like the opposite.  

I see merit to letting businesses have some choice in what the sales taxes it collects goes to. If I knew my business at one place went to supporting road work and the competitor to the stadium, I would be much more likely to do business at a place that supported road work. I am moderate in that. There’s a need for a base area that an area’s taxes go to. 

Another area of taxes that people are concerned with is universal healthcare. It’s approval or disapproval is considered a generational divide in the U.S.  

In comparison to other countries with similar status, our country looks at best, a little selfish, and to many, flat-out illogical. Big events can happen to anyone at any point which puts huge holes in the wallet of U.S. citizens, even if we have prime, private health insurance.  

Insurance companies seem to have no regulated standard to provide some level of coverage and are a mark against private insurance. No one likes guessing if a trip to the ER will bankrupt them, nor is it fun to hunt for the best rates and coverage. 

Sure, we could hire someone for a professional opinion or consult a search engine just for insurance, but that is very time-consuming. And then you’re spending money to find the right plan, with no guarantee that you will find it, or if your consultant will be honest or if the insurance companies will be doing fair business and offering a non-biased rate.  

Even if you don’t agree with universal healthcare, it really puts light on the lack of regulation on insurance companies. There’s a lack of transparency in how they create their plans, to who they cover (often a big fat no to people with any sort of prior condition or surgery), to how much they charge and how frequently. There is a need in this country to further reform health care laws and regulations. 

However, some say the most annoying tax we deal with in our country as customers is sales tax. Added tax at the register can be super infuriating as the price we pay can make large jumps. They can even make or break a sale as customers decide that it is too much after all or that they are just too annoyed by the jump
in price to pay for the item or service.  

How other countries, like those in the EU, have battled these last-minute surprises in prices, is that the businesses must add the sales tax to the asking price they advertise. This way, the taxes are still being collected but no one is caught by surprise.  

For years, I’ve talked to people overseas and there is the sense that they’re happy with this because it frees their minds of worry, doubt and anxiety. They don’t have to remember the local taxes, or if they felt spunky, do the tax calculations themselves for every purchase. 

Of all tax reforms our country could make, adding the sales tax to products could very well create the most social ease in a short amount of time. I would like to see it on the ballot here in Madison!