Taxes and King Kong

As the wounded giant ape King Kong clung tenaciously to the spire of the Empire State Bldg, a cynic on the streets below remarked “If the planes don’t get him, they’ll tax him to death.”

Shortly after the invention of taxes in 492,000 B.C. came the invention of weary cynicism by those who had to pay the taxes.

Although income and social security taxes make up the majority of taxes we pay, it is the myriad little taxes that seems to get our goat. You have probably seen something similar to the following in an email or posted somewhere on the web:

Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago:

Sales Tax, Hotel Tax, School Tax, Liquor Tax, Luxury Tax, Excise Taxes, Property Tax, Cigarette Tax, Medicare Tax, Inventory Tax,Car Rental Tax, Real Estate Tax, Well Permit Tax, Fuel Permit Tax, Inheritance Tax, Road Usage Tax, CDL license Tax, Dog License Tax, State Income Tax, Food License Tax, Vehicle Sales Tax, Gross Receipts Tax, Social Security Tax, Service Charge Tax, Fishing License Tax, Federal Income Tax, Building Permit Tax, IRS Interest Charges, Hunting License Tax,
Marriage License Tax, Corporate Income Tax, Personal Property Tax, Accounts Receivable Tax, Recreational Vehicle Tax, Workers Compensation Tax, Watercraft Registration Tax, Telephone Usage Charge Tax, Telephone Federal Excise Tax, Telephone State and Local Tax, IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax), State Unemployment Tax (SUTA), Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA), Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax, Telephone Federal Universal Service FeeTax, Gasoline Tax (currently 44.75 cents per gallon), Utility Taxes Vehicle License Registration Tax, Telephone Recurring and Nonrecurring Charges Tax, etc, etc. 

I get as annoyed as the next person at paying many of these taxes but I would rather have the inventions that spurred some of these taxes.  Some of these taxes have been around for more than a hundred years.  Like so much information on the internet, the list is partly true. Property, hotel and lodging taxes have been with us for centuries.  School taxes began with the advent of public education.  In this country, school taxes began in the mid 19th century.  There were no cars or telephones so no taxes of what did not exist yet.  Someone not wanting to pay these taxes could simply not own a car or telephone.  The IRS was not invented till about 1913 – coming up on a 100 year anniversary for that most hated institution.  Get out the party hats!

The marriage license tax dates back to the 17th century according to this history of London.  In earlier centuries there was “aid” or scutulage, paid by peasants to their lord for the eldest son’s marriage.  For those who want to go back to the old days, have at it.  I will stay in the present, thanks.

Over a hundred years ago, you would pay a horse tax, a saddle tax, a buggy tax, a tax on the lodging of the animal, and in larger cities, a tax to clean up the streets after your horse did his thing.  Horses were the 19th century’s version of a stimulus program for anyone who could use a shovel.  There was no unemployment tax because there were no unemployment benefits.  If you lost your job, you moved your family in with friends or other family or lived on the street or in a vacant warehouse.  Those were the good old days.  If you want to experience those good old days, you can visit any number of countries where people still live like that even when they have jobs.

An episode of Star Trek that we will never see is the one about taxes in the 23rd century. Although they had – or will have? – replicators, replicators can’t materialize everything.  So a likely subspace email in the 23rd century would list: Replicator tax, Subspace Access tax, Quantum Fluctuation tax, Starship tax (someone’s got to pay for all those trips), Transporter tax, Atomic Anatomy Conversion tax, Peripheral Dispersion tax, Dilithium Crystal Tax, Dilithium Mining Tax, Dilithium Resource Replenishment Fund for Mining Planet’s Inhabitants Tax, Faster Than Light (FTL) Access Tax, Wormhole Endangerment Tax, Captain Kirk Acting Lesson Tax, Vulcan Ear Tax, Data Cosmetic Tax, Dr. McCoy Liquor Tax, Holodeck Tax, Holodeck Modeling and Engineering Tax, and the one tax that really griped people of the 23rd century – the Sulu Sword Tax.

The future looks – well, kinda like the present – with a few changes.

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