Editorial: Dreaded tax deadline
April 15 is the day Americans love to hate for a simple reason: Our federal and state tax returns are due.
This year, because of the way the calendar falls, everyone is supposed to file on time. New Englanders get no extra day because the date coincided with the Patriots Day observance — as has happened sometimes in the past.
So, unless you have already completed your taxes and have sent them off — some 100 million federal tax returns have already been sent in — or are completing forms to get an extension, you have until this evening to get returns postmarked or sent electronically to the Internal Revenue Service or the Massachusetts Department of Revenue.
Oh, the frustration of dealing with those dense and obtuse forms!
Actually, Massachusetts residents might have a bit of an extra reason to feel a little put out when it comes to taxes. According to numbers put out by the Tax Foundation for its annual examination of state-local tax burdens, the Bay State was 11th in the nation when it came to what taxpayers pay out to local and state governments from their income. This was based upon fiscal year 2011, the latest available data. Our ranking is the result of Massachusetts residents paying 10.3 percent of their income to local and state governments.
As one might expect, of Massachusetts’ neighbors, New Hampshire is the lowest, with a ranking of 44th.
If we’re looking for some kind of silver lining here, there may actually be one. The 10.3 percent is the lowest that Massachusetts residents have paid since fiscal year 2000, when the percentage was 9.9.
What do Massachusetts taxpayers get for their money? In many ways, plenty. The construction of a new school or a county courthouse are visible examples of taxpayer’s money at work. And that’s just a couple of examples.
This doesn’t meant taxpayers shouldn’t be asking questions about how their money works or seeing that state and local governments try to be more efficient when it comes to looting the public’s wallets. State and local governments can do a better job of being transparent in showing just how the money gets spent, and the same is true of the federal government.
That might just make people feel better about April 15.
But we doubt it.