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Where Does Your Money Go? Taxes

Trying to stay within the theme of Budget Stretcher, I thought
a series of articles on knowing where your money is going may
help some of you understand just how much you pay on certain
expenses.

I've decided to start this series of articles with information
about the amount and type of taxes you pay. I won't be able to
cover all of the types of taxes that are paid by Americans
because that would turn this article into a book. I'm just
going to list a few of the most common taxes that most of us
have to pay.

How much do you pay in taxes every year? I can bet many of you
don't have any idea. You may think you can just look at your
tax forms for last year and have the answer. I guarantee that
would be just the beginning.

Just take a look at the below list of various taxes and do the
math yourself:

Federal Income Taxes - Uncle Sam is currently taking between
15% and 39% of our Adjusted Gross Income to pay for what ever
it is that they spend money on in Washington. The main point
I want to make here is that many people feel that because they
received a refund, they didn't pay any taxes. For some people,
this is true. However, the vast majority of people that receive
a refund are just getting back the money they already paid in
through withholding, minus the taxes they owed. HOW MUCH DID
YOU PAY LAST YEAR?

Income Tax Preparation - Yes, I consider the cost of having our
taxes prepared by a professional as a tax. If the federal tax
code was published in english, maybe more of us could prepare
our own taxes.

Social Security - 15.3% of your income goes directly to the
federal government for social security and medicare and is
conveniently deducted from your paycheck. The myth about your
employer paying half is just that. If you weren't required to
pay social security, that is another 7.65% that your employer
could pay you.

Sales Taxes - Unless you live in a state that doesn't have a
state sales tax, this costs you around 6% to 7% of every penny
you spend. Wouldn't it be nice to buy something for $99.95,
hand the clerk a $100 bill and get a nickle back.

Property Taxes and Real Estate Taxes - These taxes can run into
the thousands of dollars a year. I know, there are some places
you aren't required to pay these taxes either, however, you can
bet they get this money in other ways. Before you renters start
smiling, remember that your landlord has to pay these taxes.
Want to guess where he gets the money?

The Other Guys Taxes - What do you mean "The Other Guys Taxes"?
He can pay his own. For each item you buy, the manufacturers
and distributors have expenses like the cost of production,
packaging, shipping, etc. They also have to pay taxes. Who do
you think actually winds up paying these expenses? If you buy
it, you do. I have seen estimates that between 20% and 25% of
the cost of most items is for taxes that they have to pay. To
make a profit, all companies must pass all expenses they have
along to the consumer.

Gas Tax - With federal gasoline taxes over 18 cents per gallon
and state gasoline taxes as high as 35 cents per gallon it isn't
hard to see that, with the price of gas currently under a dollar
in most places, over half of the cost of your gas could be going
for taxes.

Self Employment Taxes - This is simply the way a self employed
person pays their Social Security and Medicare. They are
required to pay 15.3% of their gross income to cover these
expenses. These are the people that really know how much taxes
they pay. This is because they are required to write a check
for them four times a year and, if they underpaid throughout the
year, they may have to write another check on April 15th.

When you look at your budget and wonder where all of your money
is going, you may want to consider what you are paying in taxes.
There are taxpayers in this country that are paying over 50% of
their income in one tax or another.

Here are links to a couple of other articles I've written on
taxes:

I Love That Big Tax Refund
http://www.homemoneyhelp.com/taxrefund.html
A 23% Federal Sales Tax!! But Wait!
http://www.homemoneyhelp.com/fedsalestax.html

I'm not trying to make a political statement here. I just believe
that everybody should be aware of where their money goes. If you
take a few minutes to think about it, I think you will realize
that a good percentage goes to the federal, state and local
governments.


About the Author

Terry Rigg is the author of Living Within Your Means - The Easy
Way http://www.homemoneyhelp.com/ebookadpage.html and editor
of The FREE Budget Stretcher Newsletter and Budget Stretcher
web site http://www.homemoneyhelp.com. He has 25 years of
experience counseling individuals and families concerning their
personal finances.

Terry J. Rigg