This year, on average, Ohioans will work 102 days to pay for their tax obligations to the federal, state, and local government. Tax Freedom Day, calculated by the non-partisan Tax Foundation, arrived on April 12 and is the first day that Ohioans can finally begin to reap the rewards of their own hard work. That means that instead of being able to save for your future or pay your child's tuition, your rent or mortgage, or pay your electric bill, it takes 102 days just to pay taxes.
We seem to be working harder each year to pay for the cost of government. Tax Freedom Day arrived three days later this year than it did last year and almost a full three months later than it did in 1910. This measure of taxation ignores the current year's deficit, which is at its highest ever - $1.5 trillion. If the IRS actually collected enough taxes to finance all the federal government will spend in 2011, it would have to collect about $1.5 trillion more, moving Tax Freedom Day back to May 23 instead of April 12.
Even without including the deficit, Americans will pay more in taxes this year than they will spend on groceries, shelter, and clothing combined.
It's discouraging that because of the amount of taxes we pay, we don't start working for ourselves until 102 days into the year. But there is another issue, too, and that is the cost to comply with an increasingly complex tax code. According to an IRS' Taxpayer Advocate Service report, the tax code, "has grown so long that it has become challenging even to figure out how long it is."
Individuals and businesses, both small and large, face daunting challenges each year when tax season arrives. Job creators are faced with a choice between adding new workers or paying for the remarkably high costs of complying with an onerous tax code. The Tax Foundation projects that compliance alone will cost over $391 billion in 2011. At a time when our unemployment rate remains stubbornly high, we need to be doing all that we can to reduce the overall tax burden, including the compliance costs on job creators so they can add new employees.
If big-government policies and irresponsible deficit spending continue on the unsustainable path that they are currently on, Tax Freedom Day will likely come on a much later date for future generations, forcing Ohioans to work even longer to pay for a growing government.
Over the past two years, I have traveled to every one of Ohio's 88 counties and visited over 100 factories, farms and businesses to get input on how to bring jobs back to Ohio. Many cited the burden of taxes, both the amount of tax and the administrative costs to comply with such a complicated tax code. The Job Creation Act, which I introduced on the very first day possible, reduces the burden of taxes on workers and small businesses. Economists estimate the payroll tax section of the Job Creation Act alone would create more than 1.4 million jobs.
In addition, I am working to simplify and reduce rates in the tax code; including reducing the corporate tax rate to 25 percent, which has the potential to create 5.3 million jobs over ten years; and provide incentives for entrepreneurs to invest in plants, equipment and workers that will help innovation and growth in the United States.
On this Tax Freedom Day, let's rededicate ourselves to a government that lives within its means and a simpler, more sensible tax code that reduces the burdens for all of us.
Rob Portman represents Ohio in the United States Senate.