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Tax Freedom Day follows Emancipation Day

April 16, 2012 - Rob Weaver
For Americans who have to file income tax returns, Tuesday is tax deadline day. While that deadline normally falls on April 15, return filers (not just taxpayers) have been given a double reprieve this year.

When the 15th falls on a Sunday, the tax-filing deadline is extended to April 16. But Washington, D.C. — as a municipality, not as our nation’s capital — celebrates April 16 as Emancipation Day. Because public offices close that day, the tax deadline is pushed back to April 17.

It’s an appropriate local holiday. While slavery did not truly end in the United States until the end of the Civil War, and finally was abolished by ratification of the 13th Amendment, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act — freeing some 3,100 slaves in the District of Columbia — April 16, 1862. That was about nine months before issuing the Emancipation Proclamation.

But there is reason for people nationwide to celebrate Tuesday: that’s when The Tax Foundation calculates Tax Freedom Day arrives.

“That means Americans will work 107 days into the year, from January 1 to April 17, to earn enough money to pay this year’s combined 29.2 percent federal, state, and local tax bill,” according to the foundation.

If the foundation’s state-by-state figures are correct, Ohioans will celebrate Tax Freedom Day belatedly; in the Buckeye State, that day was last Thursday.

The Tax Foundation claims the latest Tax Freedom Day ever arrived was May 1, 2000; that year, the average American paid a third of their total income in taxes. A hundred years earlier, Americans paid less than 6 percent of their income in taxes, meaning Tax Freedom Day came just over three weeks into the new year: Jan. 22.

Of course, Tax Freedom Day is a bit of an illusion.

As the foundation points out, “If the federal government raised taxes enough to close the budget deficit — an additional $1.014 trillion — Tax Freedom Day would come on May 14 instead of April 17. That’s an additional 27 days of government spending paid for by borrowing.”

I wonder how long we’d have to work to pay of the national debt. I sometimes doubt whether we’ll ever know.

If that day ever does come to pass, it would be the date for a national Emancipation Day.


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