Monday, June 16, 2008
Help Me Howard: Taxed to death
If I asked you how much you are taxed in America you would have to think a little, do a little math. One South Florida man did and was stunned after finding one hidden tax after another, on one bill after another, but is it all legal or fair or fixable. To find out he called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- His name is Stephen, but this could be me, you, anybody who is not a billionaire.
Stephen Floyd: "I'm having to cut back."
Stephen Floyd: "Just having to watch money. You know, you can't spend that extra even if it's five or 10 or 15. You can't spend that extra money."
To cut costs, Stephen started paying close attention to where his money was going, and when he looked at his monthly bills he noticed things he had not paid attention to before, like the charges on his cellphone bill.
Stephen Floyd: "A federal universal charge for $1.52, federal customer recovery charge for 20 cents. A state communications tax for $4.82 and the city commission tax for $2.80. Then I have a usage charge."
That's just his cellphone bill. Look at your Florida Power and Light bill where you pay a storm charge tax, a gross receipts tax, a franchise tax, a utility tax.
Stephen Floyd: "I think a lot of those little charges is banking on you not looking at them."
And no matter which bill you pick up, you are getting stuck up. Your home phone bill includes a federal excise tax, a state tax, a local tax, an access surcharge, a 911 tax, a manhole tax, then to take your last dime, an FCC tax and another federal tax. This young lady's phone bill was $26. After all the taxes it climbed to $37, meaning she was paying a 42 percent tax rate for a home phone.
A 36 percent tax rate sent Stephen's cell phone bill soaring as well.
Stephen Floyd: "It starts out at a $39 phone service, and it ends up being $53."
Since Stephen lives in Dania Beach, the communications tax he pays goes to the city, bringing in $1.4 million a year, dumbfounding Stephen.
Stephen Floyd: "Four hundred, they are charging me for my communication going through the airwaves over the city. I don't know."
And every city and county is raking it in. This water bill has a hydrant charge, an excise tax and a utility service tax. If you try to avoid the taxes on your cable bill, the tax on your home satellite dish is 13 percent. Pay your car insurance, and they tax you to cover hurricane losses.
All these little taxes, nickel, diming and dollaring everyone to death.
Stephen Floyd: "Next it's going to be on the type of car you got or buying car tires because their tires are riding on your road, if they are charging me for using the airwaves."
Actually, they are already charging to ride on the roads. The gas tax in Dade and Broward is over $.50 cents a gallon. And if you call them to complain, they collect more of your money.
Stephen Floyd: "To me, it just doesn't seem like a fair charge to have to pay to use my cellphone."
But is it legal to tax and tax after taking so much of your money in federal income taxes and the state sales tax? Howard?
Howard Finkelstein: "When you put all the taxes together it's amazing. One woman paying a 42 percent tax rate on her phone bill. If a bank were charging 42 percent interest on a loan, the law calls it usery, but you and I call it loan sharking. It's illegal, but all these taxes on your bills are legal because they are slapped on you by the people you elected to look out for you."
What can you do? Pay attention. Fight tax increases? Complain, complain, elect new state and local officials who promise to cut spending and cut taxes, but, legally, your hands are tied, leaving everyone to basically fend for themselves and their family.
Stephen Floyd: "Now I am trying to watch money a little bit better, if you can save $2 here $2 there. If you get 20 bills in a month, you can save $2 on each one of them. That can count up to 40 bucks a month you can save and go for gas."
Now if you talk to government officials, they will tell you times are hard, and they need the money to provide services. Of course, in the past few years, when tax revenue was rolling in, the politicians and the bureaucrats didn't save it. They found ways to spend it, and, now when money is not pouring in...
Tired of funding the bureaucracy while draining your pocket? Don't let it tax you into extinction, contact us. Sometimes we are on the money. All the time we're free, and that's probably what we are worth.
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