April 2009

The Tax Foundation has just released their 2009 Survey of U.S. Attitudes on Taxes, Government Spending and Wealth Distribution and the report shows that Americans opinions on tax issues have not changed markedly since their last study in 2007.

Among the findings from a Harris Interactive poll conducted in February 2009 on behalf of the Tax Foundation  of 2,002 adults aged 18 or over are these;

· 56% of U.S. adults believe that taxes are too high.

· 85% of adults think the tax code is too complex

· 67% favor the complete elimination of the federal income tax

· 56% oppose taxes on “junk food”

While the general attitudes toward taxes may not have changed much in the last two years the survey continues to show widespread disapproval of our current tax system.

With the Republicans out of power until at least 2010 and maybe much longer any hope opponents of the current system had for the implementation of a flat tax or some other alternative method is dead for the time being.

On April 13th we celebrated Tax Freedom Day which theoretically marks the day Americans have earned enough in income to cover their tax burden for the year.

Today while millions of people are furiously finishing their tax returns before the midnight deadline there will hopefully be tens of thousands of people holding TEA (Taxed Enough Already) Parties across the country to show the government how fed up Americans are with the current tax system.

Taxes have become a necessary evil to fund many government services and will probably never totally disappear no matter how outraged taxpayers become. But Americans must fight to make the system one that is both fair and equal and shielded from the grubby hands of politicians who can’t resist spending our hard earned money on wasteful programs.

Chicago’s famed ritzy shopping district known as the Magnificent Mile is a little less magnifent these days as the recession has taken told in the windy city.

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal this week vacancies in the area are at the highest level since 1992 when another Democrat was president versus 4.4% in 2007 and just 1% in 2002.  With the almost daily announcements of job losses it is a a good bet that more stores will pull back from the pricey real estate and drive the vacancy rate even higher in the months ahead.

There are currently about 450 shops that line Lake Michigan and the Chicago river, but retailing is under heavy stress as shoppers switch from luxury to lower end stores to take care of their basic needs.

Local politicians haven’t helped the situation any either by raising the sales tax in surrounding Cook County to 10.25% which is the highest in the country and privatizing public parking meters where the rates have soared to $3.50 an hour.

These moves were an attempt to close a $12 million budget deficit but the real effect has been to curb spending even more by consumers who are already wary which leads to lower overall sales tax revenue.  Call it a destimulus package.

The country is currently in the worst economic situation than most people can ever recall having lived through.  That is particularly true for local and national elected officials who are now facing steep budget deficits as a result of years of profligate spending.  Rather than make the truly necessary budget cuts, they resort to increasing taxes and fees to plug the gap.  It may look good on paper, but history has shown that the net effect is to balance the budget while killing future growth.

If the pols continue to raise taxes and fees in thename of balancing the budget the Magnifient Mile will be more like a Magnificent Mess.