Government Regulations Are a Tax on Your Time

There are two big tax days every year: April 15, for obvious reasons, and a second date that depends on where you live and how much you make. That second date, sometimes called Tax Freedom Day, is how many months out of the year you have to work just to pay taxes. This year, Tax Freedom Day for the nation is April 18.

I’m getting close to tax freedom day for our family. I have to work about three and a half to four months just to pay for our taxes (we get taxed at a high rate because my husband and I are both self-employed). Then I spend the other eight to nine months paying for family bills, like our mortgage and groceries. Our tax check is the biggest one we write every year.

Unlike us, most people don’t have to write a check to the government at tax time because employers withhold part of every paycheck they receive throughout the year and send it to the government for them.

“Every year, Americans spend 6 billion hours doing our taxes, or 13 hours a year each.”

It doesn’t hurt quite as much if you don’t see what you’re losing. And it’s the same thing with government regulations. Even though the government forces you to do something like spend hours filling out your tax paperwork because it’s so complicated not even tax experts can get the right answer (and haven’t been able to for decades), we typically don’t see all the opportunities that are killed by the government demanding we spend time on its priorities rather than ours.

Every year, Americans spend 6 billion hours doing our taxes, or 13 hours a year each. That’s a vast number. Just imagine if taxes were simple. For example, the proponents of a flat tax—where everyone pays the same tax rate—have touted a one-page tax form. I’m not saying this is the answer to the problem, but think about all the things people could do if government stopped burdening us with hugely complicated taxes. We could spend the time we now spend on taxes instead doing other worthwhile things. I, for one, would like to spend more time with my kids—they are very young and need lots of attention. We could go on more walks to the park or read more books together.

What would you do with an extra twelve hours in your life? What could millions of people do with an aggregate 6 billion hours more in all our lives? And imagine, that’s just what we could gain with a simpler tax code.

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