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Filing income tax returns with IRS each year not a pleasant experience

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In his famous quote from a letter he composed in 1789, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes,” it’s unknown which of these two fates Benjamin Franklin found less objectionable.

Death, of course, is permanent. There is no escaping the fact that all living creatures will eventually succumb to something, and then it’s over.

But on the bright side, such as death can said to have a bright side, it only occurs once. We have our whole lives to ponder other things before the inevitable. So why not enjoy our time on Earth as much as we can?

Taxes, however, are a different story. Like death, they have a permanence we can’t avoid. But what’s worse is that they occur over and over again!

The deadline to file income taxes is just two days away, a reminder to procrastinators everywhere. It’s time to gather all those W2s, bank statements and investment records to calculate what the government has extracted so far from our paychecks and how much we anticipate receiving back as a refund — if anything.

For some of us, though, getting to the end of the tax form isn’t going to be pleasant. We may find that we owe yet more money to the government, and the IRS doesn’t care much for IOUs.

There is no doubt that most people pay too much of their income in taxes. And the tax code is so mind-bogglingly complicated that many individuals must hire someone else just to tell them that they owe more to the government.

Many of our elected leaders talk about simplifying the tax code, but — surprise — nothing ever results from all this talk. About the only thing they accomplish is to find new ways to squander the hard-earned income that most Americans could use themselves.

Many of us cringe, with justification, when we hear about the numerous ways that bureaucrats waste the revenue derived from our taxes. And what do they care? It’s not their money that’s being spent carelessly.

On the other hand, taxes are necessary for providing the services all of us depend on in some form or another. They keep our roads patched up and our food inspected and our borders guarded.

They fund research to find better ways to treat cancer as well as discover more about the origins of our universe. Taxes help maintain the open spaces we cherish and fund measures to keep our environment clean.

So as those of us in the last-minute club prepare to sharpen our pencils and download the latest income tax software, let’s keep this process in perspective. No one enjoys paying taxes, and far too many people pay way too much. This is a problem that our elected representatives still must tackle.

But as flawed as our system is, it’s what we have to keep our government operating. Yes, we need a smaller, more-efficient government that makes good use of the resources we provide. But until someone comes up with a better system, let’s make the best out of the one we have.

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