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Heartland Institute Experts Comment on Tax Day

April 15, 2015

Today is April 15: Tax Day – the day many Americans account for a big chunk of their earnings going to state and federal governments – and the first year Obamacare is a part of filing a tax return.

tax documents

Today is April 15: Tax Day – the day many Americans account for a big chunk of their earnings going to state and federal governments – and the first year Obamacare is a part of filing a tax return. 

The following statements from tax and public policy experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Director of Communications Jim Lakely at and 312/377-4000 or (cell)312/731-9364.

“Every year, Tax Day is April 15. However, Tax Freedom Day comes later. Tax Freedom Day is the first day of the year when the average worker has earned enough income to pay his or her taxes. In 1930, Tax Freedom Day was February 12. Last year, it was April 23. This year, it will be April 24.

“Yes, from January 1 through next week, we will be working entirely for the government. How does it feel to be a government employee and not even know that you are?”

Ronald D. Rotunda
The Doy & Dee Henley Chair and Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence
Chapman University

“Today is the day that the roughly 50 percent of the population that pays for the other 50 percent have to account for how much ‘income’ they received over the past year and how much they ‘owe’ for the privilege of supporting the other half plus the ‘public servant’ class. Many will be pleased that they are receiving ‘refunds,’ which are actually interest-free loans that they made last year to a federal government that misses living within its means by trillions of dollars anyway.

“Surely the Framers who envisioned a limited national government with strictly enumerated powers that could levy taxes solely on a per capita basis would recognize neither the income tax system of today nor the out-of-control government that it has spawned.”

David L. Applegate
Policy Advisor, Legal Affairs
The Heartland Institute

“As millions of citizens scramble to meet today’s filing deadline, critical problems with our tax code are brought into high relief. Most notably, as more people are required to comply with a growing list of duties, the IRS is less willing to help people comply. The agency has chosen to make enforcement a higher priority than taxpayer assistance. With the tax code approaching 4 millions words, and having been changed more than 4,600 times since 2001, it’s time we insist on massive, fundamental reform of the tax code.”

Dan Pilla
Policy Advisor
The Heartland Institute

“This year, the federal government is expecting to receive $3.2 trillion in revenue, nearly half of which comes from individual income taxes, making 2015 a very historic year for the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS expects to collect the largest amount of money from hardworking Americans in its history. But despite this record take, federal spending will still exceed revenue by $500 billion.”

Jesse Hathaway
Managing Editor
Budget & Tax News
Research Fellow
The Heartland Institute

“It is common to bemoan taxes on April 15, and understandably so. But the need for taxes stem from government spending, and this is not groaned about so much. More than half of federal spending goes to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. These programs must be addressed sooner or later. It better be sooner, because interest rates will inevitably increase and payment on the national debt will only accelerate.

“It is often said the federal debt limit should automatically be increased by Congress because it approved the expenditures. Nonetheless, the Congress does not vote on what it costs to borrow money. Markets do that. Better to cut spending now.”

Michael Warder
Vice Chancellor (retired), Pepperdine University
Principal, The Warder Consultancy

"This is a good day to remember the bottom 40 percent of the income distribution pays less than zero federal income tax. That’s right, they not only pay no taxes, but they actually get money back because of the Earned Income Tax Credit.

“In one sense, a progressive tax regime is fair: It spares those with very modest means. But the political danger is that it creates a large pool of people with no ‘skin in the game’ – no incentive to worry about government spending on wasteful programs, or the social effects of punishing success.”

John McAdams
Associate Professor of Political Science
Marquette University

“As many as 6 million people are facing higher taxes today because they decided the insurance offered to them was not worth the price, even after government subsidies. Another 3.4 million people will pay higher taxes because they failed to accurately predict their income when they obtained their insurance. And the tax treatment of Obamacare subsidies is so complicated, even the IRS has trouble getting things right. The agency admits that it sent the wrong forms to 800,000 taxpayers.

“The Obamacare law represents a Rube Goldberg set of compromises, designed to meet the needs of special interests rather than the needs of ordinary people.”

John C. Goodman
Senior Fellow, Independent Institute
Policy Advisor, The Heartland Institute

“Today, the Ides of April, offers U.S. taxpayers a once-a-year opportunity to feel the full weight of government pressing down on their shoulders. Federal and state income taxes are mostly ignored for the remainder of the year owing to what Nobel laureate Milton Friedman once called his worst idea ever – the withholding of income taxes from everyone’s biweekly or monthly payroll checks. Withholding makes government seem cheaper than it really is, at least until cold water is thrown onto our collective face on April 15th and we see the total amount of our hard-earned money government takes (‘steals’ is more accurate here) from the private sector to squander on dubious foreign interventions and inefficient and frequently ineffective domestic spending programs.

“To add insult to injury, it takes hours of every taxpayer’s time, often with the advice of accountants and tax lawyers, to compute how much income tax actually is owed. As a first step toward reforming our Byzantine income tax code, let’s end income tax withholding altogether and require taxpayers to write checks to the IRS and state tax commissions on the 15th of every month. They would not then forget the pain experienced today until April 15, 2016.”

William F. Shughart II
Fish Smith Professor in Public Choice
Jon M. Huntsman School of Business
Utah State University

“If Americans thought about the U.S. income tax system every day the way think about it on April 15, we’d have much lower, simpler, and fairer taxes.”

Merrill Matthews
Resident Scholar
Institute for Policy Innovation
Policy Advisor
The Heartland Institute

“I did my taxes a month ago and received my refund already. I have no objection to paying taxes, I just don’t always agree that the revenues are spent to cause the greatest good. I’ve always wondered what would happen if the federal government enacted a national lottery, the winner of which would be exempt from all federal income taxes for the rest of his or her life.”

Barry Garelick
U.S. Coalition for World Class Math

“Oliver Wendell Holmes once said taxes are the price we pay to live in a civilized society. Doesn’t that mean an inheritance tax – i.e. taxing the dead – is uncivilized?”

Larry Kaufmann
Senior Advisor
Pacific Economics Group

“I became an American citizen on April 15 of last year. ‘Welcome to America,’ they said. “Here’s the bill.’”

F.H. Buckley
Foundation Professor of Law
George Mason University School of Law

“One day in the future, I believe we may all feel the taxes we pay accomplish worthwhile things for our nation. That day is certainly not today, but the public is clearly getting fed up with he terrible waste of money in virtually every department of our government and will eventually throw out the people who gained office in the past and find ethical, thoughtful people to serve our nation.”

Jay Lehr
Science Director
The Heartland Institute

“Every citizen must appreciate the essential services that our government undertakes to protect us and our nation and enhance our quality of life. But many of us feel the government has become far too intrusive in our lives and activities and would like to shrink it and our taxes to the basic and fundamental services envisioned by our Constitution’s creators. We deeply resent the manner in which the tax code has been used to serve special interests who have bought their way through political donations. This ‘tax code for sale’ mode threatens our very way of life.

“The tax system has also become a way to buy votes by redistributing the wealth. I only hope that in time, reason and honesty will correct the multitude of wrongs.”

John Coleman
Founder, The Weather Channel
Policy Advisor, Environment
The Heartland Institute

“Tax Day has extra-special meaning for me and my fellow gainfully-employed citizens of Illinois. Not only do each of us get to send thousands of dollars to Washington, DC for President Hopey-Changey to redistribute, we also have the highest state tax burden in the union. Yet, those of us who reside in the Prairie State may console ourselves in the knowledge that not one of our elected officials has been sent to prison in the past couple of weeks.”

Richard J. Trzupek
Policy Advisor, Environment
The Heartland Institute

“For those living in the Buckeye State, it is no small irony ‘Tax Day’ falls a mere two days short of Ohio’s ‘Tax Freedom Day’ of April 17. Ohioans must work over 3 and a half months to pay off their cumulative tax burden. Fortunately, recent reforms to the tax code in Ohio have allowed most Ohioans to keep more of their hard earned dollars in their pockets. Unfortunately, this is far from enough. Ohio suffers not only from an unusually progressive state income tax with too many brackets; it also suffers from one of the most complex and cumbersome local tax structures in the nation. It is well past time to come up with comprehensive reforms that will allow Ohio to turbo charge its economic recovery.”

Greg R. Lawson
Statehouse Liaison and Policy Analyst
The Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions

“This Tax Day, I’d like to remind my fellow conservatives tax collections are at an all-time high, spending is at an a all-time high, and the deficit and debt are at all-time highs. There is only one branch of government with the power of the purse and that is Congress. We need new leadership in Congress to get us off this freeway to national bankruptcy.”

Richard A. Viguerie
Chairman, American Target Advertising
Policy Advisor
The Heartland Institute

“I don’t mind paying my federal income tax. I do mind what the federal government does with most of it. That probably gives me a lot of company, especially that part about what the federal government does with most of it.”

Ron Arnold
Executive Vice President
Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise

“By April 15, millions of Americans will have struggled with a tax code that is overly complex, coercive, distorts the allocation of resources, and takes too much of our income.

“Form 1040 is two pages, yet its instruction booklet runs to more than 100 pages. If you ask for all the forms and publications, the IRS website will produce 1,994 files. Because the Internal Revenue Code is so complex, nearly all citizens can find themselves running afoul of the law. This gives the federal government substantial coercive power over the American citizenry.”

Gary Wolfram
William Simon Professor of Economics
Hillsdale College
Policy Advisor
The Heartland Institute

“Today I read that the average bill for a personal tax return is $31,000, but I assure everyone that there is a group of people who pay little or no taxes and even get the Earned Income Tax Credit ‒ a cash gift from Uncle Sammy.

“The people in the category of slackers and lay-abouts are numerous enough to push politicians to do more to transfer wealth. We are in the whirlpool created by the electoral demographics. The final stages where the people in the wagon far outnumber the horses pulling.”

Dr. John Dale Dunn, M.D., J.D.
Policy Advisor, Health Care
The Heartland Institute

The Heartland Institute is a 31-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our website or call 312/377-4000.

Article Tags
Taxes Government Spending
Ronald D. Rotunda was the Doy & Dee Henley Chair and Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence, at Chapman University. He passed away on March 14, 2018. @rrotunda
David Applegate is a Chicago-based trial lawyer and partner at the law firm of Williams Montgomery & John Ltd.
For four decades, Dan Pilla has been the nation’s leader in taxpayers’ rights defense and IRS abuse prevention and cure.
Jesse Hathaway is a policy advisor for budget and tax issues at The Heartland Institute. @JesseinOH
Michael Warder was appointed Vice Chancellor of Pepperdine University in Malibu, California on April 2005, and retired from that position in 2014. He is the principal of The Warder Consultancy. @mikewarder1
John McAdams has a Ph.D. degree in Political Science from Harvard University, and is Associate Professor of Political Science at Marquette University.
John C. Goodman is president of the Goodman Institute for Public Policy Research
William F. Shughart II is Research Director and Senior Fellow at The Independent Institute, the J. Fish Smith Professor in Public Choice at Utah State University, and past president of the Southern Economic Association.
Merrill Matthews, Ph.D., is a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation, a research-based, public policy think tank. @MerrillMatthews
Barry Garelick recently retired from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and obtained his credential to teach secondary math in California.
Larry Kaufmann is senior advisor at Pacific Economics Group in Madison, Wis. and a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute.
F.H. “Frank” Buckley is a Foundation Professor of Law at George Mason University School of Law and a Policy Advisor to The Heartland Institute. @fbuckley
Jay Lehr is an internationally renowned speaker, scientist, Senior Policy Advisor with the International Climate Science Coalition and Senior Science Analyst at CFACT.
John Coleman founded The Weather Channel and was the original weathercaster on ABC’s “Good Morning America” with David Hartman and Joan Lunden. He retired in 2014 after more than 60 years in broadcasting. Coleman passed away on January 20, 2018.
Richard J. Trzupek is a chemist who has been employed as an environmental consultant to industry for more than 25 years.
Greg R. Lawson is the Statehouse Liaison and Policy Analyst at the Buckeye Institute. Lawson graduated summa cum laude from Ohio State University in 2000 with a Major in Communications and a Minor in Economics. @GregRLawson
Back in the 1960s, conservatives - whether political candidates, policy groups, or activist organizations - had no way to get their message past the filter of the liberal mainstream media and into the hands of the American people.
Ron Arnold passed away on January 24, 2022.
Dr. Wolfram is the William E.
John Dale Dunn, M.D., J.D., is an emergency physician in Brownwood, Texas. He is board-certified in emergency medicine and legal medicine and has been an inactive attorney for 35 years.

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