Georgians can celebrate Tax Freedom Day

ALBANY HERALD EDITORIAL: Starting this weekend, you are working for yourself

Congratulations. When you go to work Monday, you’ll be working for yourself.

Of course, quite a few of us in Georgia got the jump on others in the state if we worked Saturday or today, but for most, Monday will be first day this year that the average Georgian will go to work for his or her family and not federal, state or local governments.

At least, it’s that day on a symbolic note. How long it really takes an individual to earn enough money to cover the year’s taxes can only be calculated once that calendar year’s taxes are completed and the amount is divided by pay rate. Politically, however, an average date works just fine for getting the point across.

The calculation comes each year according to calculations by the 77-year-old Tax Foundation, which has given the day a catchy moniker: Tax Freedom Day.

The organization says the national Tax Freedom Day is still more than a week off, April 21, which is three days later than in 2013. That is the day that Americans as a whole will have earned enough money to pay their federal, state and local tax bills.

By April 21, Americans will have earned the equivalent of the $3 trillion that will be collected by the federal government and the $1.5 trillion that will go to state coffers. Tax Foundation officials say the slow economy is the main reason the national date is later this year.

The latest Tax Freedom Day was May 1, 2000, when Americans were paying a third of their income to the government, a percentage that is at 30.2 percent this year. The earliest was Jan. 22, 1900, when only 5.9 percent of Americans’ income was paid to taxes.

Even at that, Tax Freedom Day doesn’t account for America’s credit card. Add in what the federal government borrows and Americans would have to work until May 6 to pay off that on top of tax bills. The latest deficit-inclusive Tax Freedom Day was May 21 during World War II. Of course, paying off debt these days is downright un-American, judging by the example we get from Capitol Hill and the White House. So, no need for concern there, unless you’re worried about how your kids and grandkids are going to manage someday.

As for tax freedom, where you live matters. Georgia on Saturday was the 17th state to reach the milestone this year. Louisianians got there first back on March 30, three days before their neighbors in Mississippi. On the other end on the tax calendar, Connecticut and New Jersey are tied for dead last on May 9, nudging out New York (May 4) and California (April 30).

Now that Georgians have collectively earned enough to pay the taxes imposed by government, we can start worrying about mundane things like mortgages, car payments, medical premiums and co-pays and ever increasing gas and grocery costs, secure in the knowledge that government has been well taken care of.

The Albany Herald Editorial Board