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Monday, April 15, 2013

April 15 Tax Day! Some nostalgic music for the occasion

Today is April 15.  We should all know that our individual income tax returns are due today. If you won't have it ready in time to mail or efile today, you'll want to file an extension and be sure to still pay what you owe so you don't get a failure to pay or failure to file penalty.

Years ago in presenting a Junior Achievement math program to 8th graders, I was surprised to know that the majority knew the answer as to when an individual's income tax return is due. April 15 has certainly become a part of our "tax culture."  I don't think this date will change as part of any tax reform efforts, but you never know. Certainly, there are likely a few individuals still waiting for K-1s and corrected 1099s today and will struggle to estimate their tax due today.

Okay, on to the nostalgia part. I've been a fan of Irving Berlin since high school. One of the hundreds of songs he wrote was one commissioned by the government in the 1940s when the number of individuals subject to income tax grew tremendously (tied to WWII funding needs). The song is "I Paid My Income Tax Today." I've found online recordings by Gene Autry and Danny Kaye.  Enjoy!

From the Library of Congress.
Probably playing one of his transposing pianos.

Want to know what your federal tax dollars help fund? Check out a taxpayer receipt from the White House (at the bottom of this page). It's not a perfect tool, but better than nothing (see my 4/17/11 post).

1 comment:

Erika Codera said...

I really enjoyed the song! I had never heard it before. It truly embodies the purpose of our income tax system, to generate government revenues. It also portrays what kind of feelings a good tax system could generate.

It is clear the general feeling of the public about taxes is not so rosey as it was in Mr. Berlin's day. Mr. Porter of the AICPA in his testimony to the US Senate on April 16, 2013 (http://www.finance.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Porter%20Testimony1.pdf) indicated that the compressed filing season caused taxpayers anxiety. He notes the problem stemmed from late enactment of tax legislation and resulting delays in the IRS getting out guidance and forms. He also mentioned this caused inefficiencies for tax preparers.

Increasing complexity, caused primarily by frequent and numerous changes to the tax law, negatively impacts taxpayers' perception of equity and fairness and decreases transparency. It manipulates decision making, which causes inefficiency in the economy. It also potentially increases the tax gap.

It is unfortunate that the tax policy makers seem to promulgate a culture of hypocrisy which incrases the dissatsifaction of taxpayers. Hopefully fundamental tax reform can help us get back to the good old days when taxpayers respected the tax system.