(A Guest Post by Wifezilla)
Taxes are the life blood of the government. Unfortunately, government treats tax money like a teenager treats your refrigerator. It grabs whatever it wants, doesn't care if there is anything left for any other members of the family, and constantly whines for more. No matter which party a politician claims to belong to, there always seems to be a reason the government needs your money more than you do. The only way I can see to change the situation is to cut off their allowance so to speak.
Reforming our government because of taxes is not a new concept. Our founding fathers let England know how they felt about taxes when they dumped crate after crate of tea in to Boston Harbor back in 1773. Lacking a ship, a harbor and only having a small stash of Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice herbal tea that I would rather not part with, I decided to find a slightly different way to protest taxes and the government waste of those tax dollars.
Below is a list of ways that you can cut off or reduce the flow of your money in to the pockets of politicians.
1. Drive a fuel efficient car.
A large chunk of the price of a gallon of gas is taxes. In Colorado, between state and federal taxes, you pay approximately 58¢/gallon which is abut 25% of the cost of each gallon of gas. The more fuel efficient your car is, the less money you pay for taxes. Driving a motorcycle or scooter will cut your gas costs down even more. If you can't afford to switch cars or a motorcycle is impractical in your situation, make sure the car you do have is in top condition. By keeping the oil changed, your tires properly inflated, and keeping your air filter changed, you can increase your fuel efficiency and reduce the amount of taxes you give to the government. Even something as simple as keeping your car washed can increase your fuel efficiency by up to 7%. http://www.edmunds.com/reviews/list/top10/103164/article.html
2. Buy fresh, whole foods.
Though it varies from state to state (or even town to town), usually fresh whole foods meant for home consumption are not taxed. Restaurant food and convenience foods are. By eating food you cook yourself, not only will you be healthier, you will avoiding giving money to wasteful politicians.
You may even want to consider planting your own garden. Foods that are shipped in to your local store gets taxed in many hidden ways. From the fuel taxes paid on the truck that ships it, to sales taxes paid on the pesticides that were dumped on the crops, there is money being taken at every step. What happens to that tax money? According to Citizens Against Government Waste, $1,529,220 was spent last year on an Appalachian Fruit Lab. The government also spent $188,000 on a Lobster Institute in Maine. http://www.cagw.org/site/PageServer?pagename=reports_pigbook2008
3. Learn to use Craigslist
Craigslist.com may be best know for their colorful personal ads, but it is much more than a way to plan a "casual encounter". It is a giant local tax-free garage sale without all the sitting at the end of your driveway hoping you don't get rained on. Neither buyers or sellers pay fees to use the site or list items for sale. Most items show photos and it makes it easy to shop as well as to sell your items. There is no telling how much longer a service like this will remain tax-free, but it still is as of now so use it to your advantage. Of course, if you are a "SWM in 2 BDSM seeking same", you can always shop for true love at the same time you shop for a slightly used lawn mower.
4. Buy new online
Online sales across state lines are not subject to sales tax....yet. Sure, you will pay shipping fees, but if you shop carefully, you can find sites with flat rate shipping or reduced shipping fees for larger purchases. Two examples of sites with great shipping policies are Netrition.com and Overstock.com. Netrition sells health food and charges a flat $4.95 regardless of how much you buy or how much it weighs. Overstock sells a large variety of items from furniture to clothing to jewelry, electronics and more. They often feature $1 shipping or provide free shipping options.
5. Shop thrift stores
While you still pay sales tax at a thrift store, your overall bill will be much smaller than it will be if you purchase items new. Since the bill is smaller, the amount of money you pay to greedy government spend-aholics will also be lower. Besides, thrift stores purchases also give you a chance to help the needy. The Salvation Army, Disabled American Veterans, and ARC thrift stores are all run by charitable organizations.
6. Stop smoking
Cigarettes are one of the most taxed items available. The national average with state and federal taxes is 98 cents per pack. If you stop smoking, you stop giving money away that will be blown on studying cow flatulence, or the mating habits of the Northern snail darter. If you aren't ready to kick the nicotine habit just yet, consider switching to smoking a pipe or buying loose tobacco and rolling your own. Pipe tobacco and loose tobacco is much less expensive than pre-made cigarettes, so switching to these will mean less money for programs like the $492,000 Rocky Flats Cold War museum. http://earmarks.omb.gov/2008-earmarks/earmark_284289.html
7. Brew your own beer and wine
Like cigarettes, beer and wine are easy tax target for tax takers. Brewing beer and wine is a fun hobby that also lets you deprive politicians of your hard-earned money. The highest taxes are reserved for liquor. From 50-80% of the cost of a bottle of hooch is tax. Unfortunately, while brewing your own beer and wine for private consumption is perfectly legal, it is illegal to distill your own spirits.
8. Go to garage sales
In most communities, people who hold the occasional garage sale are not required to collect sales tax. While more time consuming that popping in to your local Walmart, garage sales give you the opportunity to legally avoid paying sales tax and find unique, one-of-a-kind items. Along with listings in your local paper, Craigslist.com is a great source for garage sale listings. Since they allow posting for free and picture uploads, you can often get a more detailed list of items available at any particular sale. Veteran garage salers plan a route of 4 or 5 sales they want to hit and shop early for the best selection.
9. Shop for lower sales tax rates.
A short drive can make quite a difference in the final price you pay for an item. If you are near a state or county border, check to see what the sales tax rate are in the next taxing district. In the Security/Widefield area South of Colorado Springs, CO, shopping at Walmart means you pay 6.9% sales tax between federal, state and City of Fountain Sales tax. Shopping at Ross less than 2 minutes away you pay only 3.9% since it is located in unincorporated El Paso County. In some areas, it pays to cross state lines. While the state of Washington charges a 6.5% sales tax, you pay zero in Oregon.
10. Make less money
The more money you make in salary, the more the government wants to take away. Working overtime usually results in very little extra take home pay for you but a big bonus for the government. If you are sick and tired of being sucked dry by government vampires, you may want to take a serious look at your income and lifestyle. Are you sacrificing valuable time with your children in order to make more money and buy more"stuff"? If you are married, can you and your spouse get by on one income instead of two? By simplifying your life, not only do you give the tax monster the brush off, you may reduce your stress level, make more time for your family, and gain peace of mind.
Parents.com ( http://www.parents.com/app/stayathomecalculator/) has a nifty "Stay at Home Calculator" that lets you figure out if having one of the spouses leave the work force is feasible. Often times the person bringing in the second income finds out that their $20/hour job is actually only netting them $1.75/hour after deducting day care costs, commuting expenses, business meals, dry cleaning bills, taxes, etc...
Some towns and states have moved from the category of excessively taxes to downright business and worker hostile. MSN money lists the best and worst states for taxes in this article http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Taxes/Advice/TheBestAndWorstStatesForTaxes.aspx?page=1
According to MSN, "The state in which residents pay the most in combined state, local and federal taxes, per capita, is Connecticut (38.3%), followed by New York (37.1%), New Jersey (35.6%) and Nevada (35.2%). Oklahoma residents pay the least (27.8%), followed by those in Alabama (28.0%) and Alaska (28.1%)."
Any state or town that thinks you are their own personal cash cow doesn't deserve to have you. Take yourself and your family to an area of the country that appreciates your hard work, values your individual freedoms, and realizes that while government is necessary, it doesn't have to be oppressive or intrusive.
It would be hard to see an immediate effect of people actively engaging in a tax protest of this sort, but the economic slow down we have seen in the past six months does give us some clues. Many cities and states are reporting reduced income due to lower sales tax collections. They have cut budgets while upping traffic enforcement in an effort to generate more revenue. State governments are also conducting random sales tax inspections at business locations.
In New York City , it was recently announced that Mayor Bloomberg is considering a 15% personal income tax hike on New York City residents. Also under consideration are cutting 3,000 jobs, canceling the January Police Academy class, cutting school budgets, rescinding previously passed tax cuts, increasing fees and fines, all in an effort to address a 4 billion (Yes, BILLION...with a B) budget shortfall over the next 2 years.
According to the Daily News, "The proposed increase in personal income tax would hit the middle class, costing those who earn $50,000 to $90,000 about $116 to $356 more next year, according to City Hall's estimates.
Bloomberg's latest fiscal blueprint is the harshest since he coped with a post-9/11 budget fiasco, causing him to hike property taxes 18.5% and temporarily raise income and sales tax."
Now, higher taxes and more fees hardly sounds like a good result to a personal tax protest, but this is only a short term result. What it is really doing is forcing politicians to show their true colors. Mayor Bloomberg, who was once a Democrat, was elected to office as a Republican after switching parties in 2001. Republicans are SUPPOSED to be the party of smaller government and lower taxes. Even with a small reduction in staff, the fact that taxes on INCOME are even on the agenda shows you where he really stands.
Instead of worrying about your carbon footprint, start worrying about your tax footprint. Denying the government vampires a steady supply of taxpayer blood reduces the likelihood vampires will be running for office in the future. Like an alcoholic, you won't be able to get them to stop drinking, but you are under no obligation to continue buying them booze.