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Americans hate Uncle Sam's taxes

Americans hate Uncle Sam’s taxes

If there is anything that unites Americans, it is hatred for them taxes. For them, the tax burden is the greatest devil to fight. Regardless of great economic treatises, or certified financial experts, the movies are enough for us to get an idea of ​​how sensitive the issue is. It’s no coincidence that even the ramshackle pit group in the movie Armageddon demands a reward for not paying taxes anymore. Not only their escape becomes the engine for other events. This is the case of the Al Capone story immortalized in Brian de Palma’s film Glee Untouchable. Mr Chicago In the 1930s, the Italian-American president controlled large sections of organized crime in the city. However, as the film makes clear, it is framed by Under Secretary of the Treasury, Elliot Ness, who reveals his mechanism for tax evasion.

A scene from the movie The Untouchables

intrinsic aversion

Tax aversion has deep roots in America’s history. The same spark that lit the great fire of revolution Against the British at the end of the eighteenth century was linked to taxation. The revolution began in the port Boston In fact, it started from the fact that the settlers were harassed by taxes without having anything in return, not even a representative in Parliament. Westminster in London. From the Boston Tea Party onwards, the protest spread quickly, and the rest is a well-known story. Other historical episodes also go in this direction.

As historian Robin Einhorn reported on taxation and fiscal policy, no one in the United States viewed taxes favorably. In the nineteenth century the owners farmer Southern slaves were against any property tax. At the same time north, philosopher and writer Harry David Thoreau He is not only remembered for having “invented” civil disobedience, but also for his refusal to pay taxes as a form of protest against slavery.

Until today, after the financial scissors George W. Bush NS Donald Trump Most Americans feel oppressed. According to an April 2021 poll, about 66% of Americans said they were “very or completely upset” with the amount of taxes paid. On the other hand, only 10% said they had no problem writing a check from the government. However, if we look at everything from the wallet side, we see that not all Americans are stressed. Fifty-four percent of those earning more than $100,000 said they were convinced they were getting too little from the government compared to what they paid in taxes. The percentage drops to 27% if we consider, on the other hand, those who earn less than $30,000 a year. It is a clear sign that America, too, must live with social classes. Hence, the country is broken not only by the color of its skin, but also by its wallet, especially after the Great Recession of 2008.

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Why analysis

from Boston Tea Party Onwards, hostility towards taxes remained practically unchanged. It is no coincidence that in 1978, among the songs of the 57th album Johnny Cash There is a very clear effect: after taxes. “You can dream of a honeymoon for two. You can dream, but that’s all you can do after old Uncle Sam is done with youHowever, it does not mean that government activities are flawed or ineffective. Of course there is no shortage of waste, but more than a few experts have pointed out the prevalence of financial ignorance among citizens. According to a survey conducted by the Cornell Institute for Investigative Research, 57 percent said Of Americans they have never been part of one of the many social programs of the federal government, but in fact 94% of those have benefited from some form.

Ironically, the bad name of taxes is also related to the fact that the effects of taxes are often not ‘visible’. In fact, experts coined the term “submerged governmentTo refer to the phenomenon that the authorities did not announce their results in public spending. Perhaps out of fear that people will feel that public money is wasted. However, the state machine is more generous than it appears. last year Treasury Department It returned Americans about $320 billion in exemptions and reparations for more than 125 million tax bills, averaging $2,500 per citizen.

Another problem is the labyrinth of bureaucracy, as the movie explains wings of freedom. Frank Darabont’s film, chronicling the ten years imprisonment of innocent accountant Andy Dufresne, shows this well. There is a key clip in the movie where Andy overhears a conversation between the guards. Their boss states that he inherited some money from a relative and complains that taxes will eat up the will. At this point Andy approaches and suggests that the warden donate the money to his wife to avoid paying taxes. At that moment, the movie’s narration machine was also turned on, with Andy getting the goodwill of the prison director to become his own accountant.

The scene in which the hero of the novel Wings of Freedom talks to the jailer about the possibility of tax evasion

Ethical Violation

According to Americans, taxes, in addition to the wallet, undermine other deeper values. A few years ago, a group of psychologists, speaking to a group of small business owners, discovered that, according to many, taxes are only a means rob their hard-working citizens dignity. A slice of the middle class is convinced that the government’s hand is immoral and only helps the very rich and the poor. For them, taxes go against America’s founding principle, that hard work should always be rewarded. We may never know, but it’s possible that John Landis also took advantage of this experience to fix the script for the cult movie blues brothers. The idea for the movie with John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd came from a set of scenes created by the comic duo in Saturday Night LiveThe problem is that they lack the glue and plot that would make them useful in making a feature film. In just under two weeks, Landis rewrote the film’s structure and found the drive of events specifically in taxes, or rather, the non-payment of taxes. Jake and the Elwood Blues have to bring the band back together to raise $5,000 to donate to an old orphanage that may close due to non-payment of taxes.

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This horror of Uncle Sam getting his hands in Americans’ pockets is the other side of what many have called the “American Dream.” A miracle ingredient that has always made the United States a land of opportunity. It is the promise that if everyone works hard they can succeed. In this way, taxes become the antithesis of this dream for everyone.

The relationship with taxes, especially the federal state, has been further eroded with 2008 crisis, the subsequent recession and, above all, a series of big bank bailouts. The combination slid into the Great American Rift. On the right, the rising anti-tax movement tea party Asking to cut off everything possible and imaginable, he found it in Bernie Sanders and the ultra-liberals Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez A breeding ground for the “tax the rich” cry.


In the last years inequality They collapsed in America as Americans got richer and others got poorer. This difference has increased in parallel with the gradual reduction in the tax burden. In America in the 1940s, incomes over $200,000 were taxed at 94%, then slowly slipped over the years to the leaps of the Reagan administration. Bush Jr and Trump. While this tax cut has had enormous benefits by unleashing unparalleled economic and financial development in the world, on the other hand, it has affected one of the pillars that has always made America great: social mobility.

The United States was born without aristocracies, and never came to terms with real social classes, as evidenced by Martin Scorsese’s film age of innocence, where all remnants of the aristocracy are “imported”, while the hero of the story, an American, is a self-made lawyer. America has for a long time shown greater social mobility than Europe. Today, this ability to pass from one generation to the next from extreme poverty to wealth appears to have ceased. Despite this, tax resistance remains, but why?

A scene from the era of innocence

In an episode of the TV series West Wing, which chronicles the vicissitudes of the Democratic administration of fictional President Bartlett, there is a key clip. The administration is seeking the support of several members of Congress to pass a law to support tax increases for the wealthy. However, a group of Representatives is led by an African American parliamentary side. At one point, an angry member of the president’s staff asked, “Among the beneficiaries of this law there will be mainly African Americans, the poorest, why do you oppose it?” When the representative was asked, he replied: “Because even African Americans dream of getting rich and don’t want to pay more taxes when they get rich.”

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