Tax reform or fair reform?

Published 10:11 am Thursday, April 27, 2017

Taxes: most of us hate them, most of us pay them.

It is often said that you are born, you pay taxes and then you die. Whatever you make of your life outside of these givens is up to you — it is the American dream.

One thing we should all aspire to see is tax reform that makes sense; tax reform that is fair.

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We have to pay taxes and I think most understand the need for seeing a lot of our paychecks disappear before the ink dries.

But wouldn’t it be a joyous day to see our net pay increase because less of our hard earned money went to pay taxes? I certainly hope you can join me in this dream.

I realize some people need government assistance — EBT, welfare, Medicaid, SSI, unemployment; they all have a necessary place in society. The problem lies with those who don’t necessarily need it, or in more direct terms, deserve it. We have to learn we are not entitled to these things just because we are Americans.

When I was growing up, I learned of the American dream of studying in school, working hard, having desire and becoming the best I could be whatever I chose to be.

Being a Jedi Knight faded, my baseball career was cut short and it turned out I wasn’t that great of an actor so no Hollywood for me. But you know what? I persevered and became something else. I’m far from wealthy but I’m happy with who I am.

Sadly, I’ve known people who dreamed of living off of the government as a way of life. After all, their parents and their parents before them did, so why shouldn’t they? A lot of people are to blame for this — their family, themselves, but most of all, the rest of us for letting it happen. If you don’t believe this exists, I’ll be happy to show you.

Now imagine this scenario. A young man graduates high school and wants to make something of himself. During the summer months, he takes a job working at the coal mines in order to pay for his next semester of college. While in school, he works another job while taking a full schedule of classes. When Christmas break comes, he is back working for the mining company for three to four weeks, then it is off to school and his other job. Summer break finally arrives and the following week, he’s on the mining company property again for a few months.

When the cycle ends four to five years later, he finally begins his career, the very thing he yearned to do. He became the first in his family to graduate college, trying to avoid mining coal for a living which was also a promise to his father.

Fast forward 20 years. After working hard every day and finding his niche in the corporate world, he is struck with a debilitating illness. He still continues to work as hard as his body will allow, after all, it was his dream. Not a dream job, but a dream of working hard and advancing as much as he possibly could. But soon, the illness took over and his doctors made him take leave from work.

Now let’s say this person paid for short- and long-term disability through his health insurance. He is now on long term disability, essentially receiving 50 percent of his pay. Imagine this amounts to $28,000 per year.

From this, he pays all of his bills — mortgage, auto, utilities, health insurance, auto insurance, child support, food and other various living expenses but most notably, a lot of medical and prescription costs. He checks with the Affordable Care Act and learns that it’s still pretty expensive because he makes “too much” money.

Even with all of this, he doesn’t qualify for food stamps, again, because his LTD pays more than the limit allows. Did I mention that his LTD is fully taxed? Yes, he pays taxes on this salary that is listed as “sick pay.” Talk about too much month at the end of the money.

While he never fell into the higher tax bracket, he was living as comfortably as he could. When his world found a stumbling block, he didn’t quit trying, he simply made adjustments in how he lived his life. Yes, he has his struggles, but he lives.

So while this gentleman does what he can and it was made possible by working hard, others take the easy way out.

To summarize, changes in how we pay taxes can be made possible but we have to improve how government spends the money.

There is too much wasted spending and until it changes, fair reform will stay a dream.

From President Calvin Coolidge, “Collecting more taxes than is absolutely necessary is legalized robbery.”

Political enthusiast Will Collins is a Kentucky native who has called Winchester home for nearly the past 20 years. He can be emailed at