Where can I donate to the federal budget?

Published 9:17 am Saturday, October 22, 2016

Editorial by Bobby Tingle


Lynda Gunstream sent me a simple one-page note this week

She was resourceful and printed on both sides of the piece of paper. I guess calling it a note is a bit of an exaggeration. My first clue that it was not a personal note was the bold letters at the top, TAX STATEMENT.

Gunstream is fulfilling her role as tax assessor-collector of Orange County. Her note to me is much like the note she sent to many others in Orange County. Her note details the amount of property tax due for 2016. She calculated the total tax levy based on tax rates times the taxable value of the property.

The note was sent on behalf of six taxing entities. Each one has churned through the established process for setting their rate. Now Gunstream takes over and administers her duty of assessing and collecting.

In Orange County, for this instance, the total of all the tax rates is $2.80 for each $1,000 of property value. If your property is valued at $10,000 your tax bill is $28. Pretty simple huh?

West Orange Consolidated Independent School district will receive about $14 or half the $28 total. The City of Orange will receive $7 and the County of Orange will receive $5.40. The remaining $1.60 will be distributed among the Orange County Navigation and Port District, the Orange County Drainage District and Farm to Market.

I am not sure what Farm to Market is, but it looks like they get less than three cents of the total $28 in our example.

Let’s recap this illustration. One letter containing one sheet of paper mailed to my home is all I need to know how much to pay Orange County to satisfy my 2016 tax liability. Pretty simple, huh?

Wouldn’t it be nice if doing business with our federal government were simple? Imagine getting a letter, one sheet of paper, printed on both sides with all you need to know. Open the letter, read the letter, review the details, write the check and mail it in.

Its much more complicated, of course.

But, at least the complication is all about everybody paying a fair share. At least, a fair number of elected officials and wannabe elected officials express that goal.

Many of them pontificate about paying your fair share, but rarely do they ask where they can make a personal donation.

A fair number of those elected officials and wannabes make a lot of money. Often they seem concerned about the need to ensure the rich pay.

I suggest they lead by example and make personal donations.

Of course, they are insincere about the goal of the rich paying their fair share. It is always a good idea when on the campaign trail or giving a speech in public. Back at the office, where they make the laws, they vote for tax loopholes for the rich to avoid taxes.

The double standard is troubling. They talk about paying then find ways to avoid it for themselves and their buddies.

It is as they say, complicated.

I wonder if you can just write a check and send it in to the Internal Revenue Service like you do when they pass the plate at church?

In August 2016, the Congressional Budget Office has projected a $590 billion deficit in spending for this year by our federal government. Tax collections are projected to be approximately $3.3 trillion and spending around $3.9 trillion.

Unfortunately, the only answer some politicians have for this insanity is tax more.

They take $3.3 trillion and then tell you the problem is some don’t pay enough?

Did they ever consider not spending so much?

Instead, we hear about protecting low and middle-income earners from paying more. But one way or another, I suspect that is where the burden falls.

It is neither simple nor fair.

I really don’t want a place to go to make a donation to the federal budget. I am just like most taxpayers who work as hard as I can to avoid taxes.

I don’t blame you for doing the same.

Bobby Tingle is Publisher of The Orange Leader. You can reach him at bobby.tingle@orangeleader.com.