Group says Tax Freedom Day is later every year

May 09, 1997


Staff Writer

There will be something else besides Mother's Day for Marylanders to celebrate on Sunday. May 11 is also Tax Freedom Day in the state - the day Marylanders stop working to pay taxes and are finally allowed to keep the money they earn.

Tax Freedom Day is computed by the Tax Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan Washington, D.C., research group. The foundation figures out how many 40-hour days a year it takes workers in the various states to earn enough to pay their federal, state and local taxes.

In other words, as of Sunday the average Marylander will have earned enough money this year to pay taxes levied by Uncle Sam and his state and local counterparts, the foundation said.


Last year, Maryland's Tax Freedom Day came two days earlier.

Taxes in Maryland are "outrageously high - and without a real need to be - because of lack of good management practices at many governmental levels," said Maryland Taxpayers Association Inc. Chairman John O'Neill. "We're sad when Tax Freedom Day rolls around."

O'Neill, a former Hagerstown resident, said his group has lobbied for changes in the way the state spends tax money, that if adopted could lead to lower tax rates.

"For example, there's a $500 million rainy day fund in Maryland that's in a savings account instead of a more prudent investment that would earn considerably more than 5 percent interest," O'Neill said.

O'Neill said state officials balk at his group's suggestions. "I guess it's because it's not their idea," he said.

While O'Neill is sad on Tax Freedom Day, Libertarian Party members celebrate. National party spokesman George Getz said his party wants to see taxes eliminated.

Getz said several states, such as Louisiana and Tennessee, have no state income taxes. "Their Tax Freedom Days come a lot earlier than the other states," he said.

National Tax Freedom Day was Friday, May 9, a day later than last year, according to the Tax Foundation. "Steady growth in the economy and the progressive tax system" was blamed for the extra day.

According to the foundation, it took the average American 128 working days this year just to pay taxes - the longest ever. It takes the average worker almost three hours out of every eight-hour workday, and more than 15 years out of a typical 45-year career, to pay his or her taxes, the foundation said.

Foundation economist Patrick Fleenor said this year it took the average Maryland resident 88 working days to pay federal taxes, and 42 more days to pay state and local taxes.

Pennsylvania residents were only slightly better off. It took them an average of two days less this year to work off their tax burden, according to the foundation.

West Virginians were in a different league altogether. They could celebrate Tax Freedom Day a full 10 days sooner than either of their neighbors, the foundation said.

Fleenor said that has its up side and its down side. While some West Virginia state taxes are lower than the two neighboring states, the income of the average resident is also lower, he said. As a result, taxpayers don't have to pay as much in federal income tax.

Fleenor said the number of days the average American labors just to pay taxes will continue to grow.

"Under current law, there will be an increase in the tax burden through the end of the century," he said.

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