Your state wants to secede from the union. What will this mean for your taxes?
I have good news and bad news. The good news is really good. But the bad news is really, really bad.
We’ll get to them in a moment.
Talk of secession is in the air. The White House this week confirmed that residents in all fifty states had submitted petitions asking to leave the union. Will the last one left please turn out the lights?
Residents in seven states, all in the former Confederacy, submitted more than 30,000 signatures each — enough that some hapless bureaucrat or intern will now have to take a look at their petitions.
The news comes 150 years after the Civil War, and just in time for Steve Spielberg’s biopic of Abraham Lincoln, the man whom we have to thank — if that’s the word I want — for the continued forcible marriage of the once-independent states.
It’s only a couple of years since Texas governor Rick Perry hoisted a rhetorical secessionist flag in response to Obamacare. In the last few years, anti-federal “10th Amendment” resolutions, emphasizing the primacy of states’ rights versus those of the union, have passed the legislatures of 12 states in the South and West. In five states, the governors signed them, too. (The 10th Amendment to the Constitution says states’ rights come before those of the federal government. The last time anyone in Washington actually paid attention to it, the ink was still wet.)
But what would any of this actually mean for your taxes?
The upside is you will be liberated from the sheer living hell of the federal tax code.
I don’t care where you live, and how badly run your local state government is. Nothing could be worse than this monstrosity. I once calculated that it was three times as long as the complete works of William Shakespeare. The instruction booklet for citizens, once two pages long, is now pushing 200.
The federal tax code is the kind of punishment victors used to impose on conquered peoples, along with the gouging of eyes and the rack. That was in the days before the Geneva Convention. I still don’t understand why, in this country, people are simultaneously considered so monumentally stupid that everything has to come with idiotic warnings on the side (“Caution: Do not jab fork repeatedly in eye, or injury may result”), and yet are considered so brilliant that they can maneuver through Schedule C, Schedule F, Schedule X, calculate your passive losses, divide by the shoe size of your sixth grade primary school teacher, carry the 7 unless it’s a Thursday, and multiply by the square root of the I.Q. of the guy next to you on the bus, and so on.
It’s not the total amount of federal tax dollars I pay which makes me want to put on a grey uniform, it’s the awful, awful process.
Secede, and you will never have to file a federal tax return again. Bliss. That’s the good news.
Alas, there’s also some bad news.