Does Maryland resident Alice Scanlon pay more taxes than you? Maybe not. But Scanlon certainly keeps track of her taxes better than you. Much better. Down to the penny better.
"I was listening to our president about a year ago and I kept hearing him say 'pay your fair share," Scanlon told TheBlaze recently. "It got me thinking, what is our fair share?" So she turned to her records, and an excel spreadsheet.
"I just started looking through all of our receipts and tax filings from the past year and made columns for each," she explained. The middle class Dundalk, MD, resident notes that she had to expand her list a number of times due to the hidden taxes she kept discovering. The average entry features a relatively small amount, sometimes only pennies, but it is all there. Gas taxes, state and federal taxes, special Maryland alcohol tax, cell phone taxes and "Bay Restoration Fees," road tolls, mandatory union dues, and on and on. A typical entry from the list will look like this:
Scanlon's list grew and grew -- and it's growing and growing. It is now 18 columns wide.
"There is a much bigger picture than most taxpayers know," she insisted. "Once you add them up it is sickening how much you are really paying and the levels of bureaucracy is borderline dysfunctional." When asked which tax she found the most egregious there was no hesitation: "Oh, the phone bill, hands down." Her spreadhsheet includes a footnote highlighting the litany of taxes and fees associated with it:
"Telephone fees include: MD 911 fee, Federal Excise Tax, MD local tax, Federal Universal Service fee, MD Gross Receipts Tax surcharge, Telecommunications Access of MD fee, Federal Subscriber line charge, Md State sales tax, PEG Grant fee, Regulatory Recovery Fee - Federal, Video Franchise Fee"
These fees are all the more infuriating to Scanlon when contrasted with the federal grant for free cell phones that received recent attention. The Heritage Foundation's Foundry reports:
Welfare recipients in approximately 20 states–with more to follow– are currently eligible to receive a free cell phone with a limited number of monthly minutes. All individuals that qualify for state or federal welfare–food stamps, Medicaid, etc.–and have an income at or below 135% of the poverty level, are eligible. According to a Fox News report, the cell phone service is currently the fastest growing welfare program in the country.
Scanlon called that program "infuriating" in relation to the heavy taxes and fees she pays for her phone. "
It is just not fair that there are so many people befitting from the system without working," she says.
Scanlon and her husband appear to be model, middle-class Americans. They have a mortgage and have recently finished their car payments. They are also very proud that they have no outstanding credit card debt after making major financial cutbacks. But the economic downturn has been difficult for them. Scanlon's husband, Michael, was laid off this year when the steel plant where he worked shut its doors permanently. He was out of work for three and a half months, but now found a new job as an electrician with a crane company.
So how much has this working class family paid to the government to date? A whopping $26,000. Well, actually the total looks more like this:
"This is 27 percent of mine and my husbands combined income," Scanlon said with minor irritation, "and the total taxes paid in 2012 will easily tip over $30,000 by the end of the fiscal year." In contrast, Scanlon said, she is only required to give 10% to her church.
"The government takes almost three times more than the church," the devoted Presbyterian notes, "but the government dose not do even a fraction of the good that the church does."
When asked about our national debt and spending Scanlon drew another breathless contrast. "We balance out budget as a family," she sighed,."Is there really any difference? If we don't have the money we cut back. The entire thing is immensely hypocritical." Scanlon concludes by emphasizing that her list is not political in any way, but that it is simply meant to inform middle class taxpayers like herself.
"But I am voting for Romney," she added with a smile.
"It is not about giving the government more, it's about them working with less," she explained. "Just like us."
So does Scanlon think she pays her fair share? After almost 1,500 entries onto her taxes and fees spreadsheet she laughed and said, "Oh, I think we do."