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Our Opinion: Tax Freedom Day comes to Missouri

Although the deadline looms to settle your 2010 tax obligation, Missourians may take some solace in the notion they now have earned enough to pay the tax bill coming due next year.

For Missourians, Monday was Tax Freedom Day — the date when working Americans earn enough money to pay their federal, state and local taxes. Missouri’s date is 18th earliest among the 50 states.

The average date for all Americans is a week from today, April 12, according to the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that calculates the date each year. The group has monitored fiscal policy at the federal, state and local levels since 1937.

Both dates precede the deadline to settle the 2010 tax bill, which Missouri and the federal government have extended to April 18 this year.

If working more than three months to satisfy your tax obligation seems burdensome, consider the duration is even longer in other states.

Connecticut is the last state to observe Tax Freedom Day; it falls this year on May 2, nearly a month after Missouri workers have met their tax obligation.

The first state this year to celebrate Tax Freedom Day — March 26 — was Mississippi, based on both its modest incomes and low state and local tax burdens.

National Tax Freedom Day falls later than it did last year, which Tax Foundation staff economist Kail Padgitt attributed largely to income changes rather than changes in the tax laws.

“As the economic recovery continues,” Padgitt said, “individuals’ rising income pushes them into higher tax brackets. Also, corporate tax revenue has seen a resurgence.”

The foundation, however, found some changes in tax law “partly to blame.” It identified the federal estate tax, which has returned after a oneyear repeal, as well as taxes associated with phasing in President Obama’s federal health care law.

Tax Freedom Day invariably will be construed differently by liberal and conservative thinkers to support their ideologies.

Liberals will emphasize Missouri’s comparatively low tax rate as justification to raise taxes to provide government services.

Conservatives will counter that low taxes attract business investment, which creates job and boosts the economy.

Missouri taxpayers simply may indulge in a collective sigh of relief. As of Monday, they essentially stopped working to pay government and began earning for themselves.

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