In case there’s still any confusion about why your taxes are due Monday, April 18, this year rather than the usual April 15, it’s because the traditional tax day fell on the day Washington D.C. marked Emancipation Day. But even as the nation got a short tax reprieve thanks to D.C.’s holiday, we heard plenty about taxes all week, specifically regarding whether they’re going up or down.
A little more about Emancipation Day
On April 16, 1862, Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves in the District of Columbia, a full nine months before the Emancipation Proclamation freed all slaves and two years before slavery was abolished. This year the District observed the day on April 15 since the holiday fell on a Saturday. In other words, the IRS and others had the day off, and the rest of us got a few more days to turn in our taxes.
By chance, this week also marked the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War. And while emancipation was a central part of that war, a new Pew Research Center poll found 48% of respondents said they thought the war was mainly over states’ rights, while 38% thought it was over slavery.
The real talk on taxes is tied to the deficit
Beyond this year’s tax deadline delay, there was plenty of talk this week about taxes, specifically raising them for people who make over $250,000. The talks centered around the bulging U.S. deficit, currently at a record high as the U.S. spent twice what it made in March.
The plans to reduce the deficit sound pretty simple: cut spending and raise revenue. Two plans have emerged to slim the deficit by trillions of dollars, one from President Obama and one from Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan. Obama says he’ll let the Bush-era tax cuts for people making over $250,000 expire at the end of 2012, saying he refuses to renew them again. The Ryan plan calls for tax cuts (from 35% to 25%) and deeper cuts in spending. Medicare and Medicaid are on the chopping block. You can compare the plans here.
Can you tell we’re headed into an election year? Get ready to hear a lot more about the deficit, Medicare, Medicaid, health reform, spending, and the real divider: taxes, with some arguing passionately that they should go up, and others arguing passionately they should go down. Reality is, there's got to be a way to pay for the services we want provided.