Saturday marked Tax Freedom Day for New Mexico residents, according to the non-partisan tax-education organization Tax Foundation (www.taxfoundation.org).
Tax Freedom Day marks the day we’d be done paying taxes if we gave all our earnings to the government until we satisfied our annual tax debt.
For the average American, that day falls on April 26.
There is no actual Tax Freedom Day since governments take some of our hard-earned money each pay day. Nonetheless, measuring how many days of work it would take to cover our tab puts government’s intrusion into our lives into needed perspective.
Consider how much time our largest expenses require:
• Government: The average American spends nearly one-third of the year, 116 days, working to pay taxes. New Mexicans only need 105 days to cover that burden; Texans need 109 days. Federal taxes eat up 77 days of the average American’s year, while state and local taxes consume the other 39.
• Housing and household operations: We work 62 days, barely one-sixth of the year, to cover these expenses.
• Health and medical care: Despite increasing costs for prescription drugs and medical care, 52 days are needed to cover this expense.
• Transportation: Even with gas pushing $3 a gallon, transportation only requires the money from 30 days. Food requires the same number. Taken alone, transportation or food costs us less than do local governments — school levies, municipal income taxes, county property taxes and all the rest. Put food and transportation together, and they’re still cheaper and less time-consuming than the federal government.
Maybe that information helps explain why we don’t have formal celebrations for Tax Freedom Day — it’s too painful to think about.