Tax Guru-Ker$tetter Letter
Friday, March 09, 2001
I have written several times about all of the hidden taxes we pay. While all of the current discussion is on reducing income tax rates, there are more and more taxes and fees assessed on just about everything we spend money on. We all pay huge amounts of taxes with each tank of gas and each month's phone bills.
It is a very real game for our rulers as to how they can siphon off more money from the people without being held accountable. Because our rulers are afraid of the negative conotations inherent in the word "tax," they often use euphemisms to disguise the true nature of the charges froim the most gullible of our society.
What triggered this rant is a current bill (HB1274) about to be signed by the Arkansas Governor to raise money for nursing home regulation. It assesses a fee on nursing homes of $5.25 per day per resident. Because the Gov is allegedly an anti-tax Republican, this charge isn't called a tax in the bill. It is called a "Quality Assurance Fee," which makes it acceptable for the Gov.
Believe it or not, that isn't what has me mad and disgusted. Here's the topper. In the bill, nursing facilities are specifically not allowed to list this new fee on the bills they give to their patients. This is a direct violation of a little something called the First Amendment, which is supposed to guarantee all Americans (including businesses) the freedom of speech. Of course, this is considered irrelevant in the pursuit of money for our rulers.
This trick of forbidding businesses from informing their customers about taxes isn't a trick exclusive to Arkansas. A few years ago, our rulers in Washington (Congress & the FCC) tried to prohibit telephone companies from describing the taxes as that on the bills they send customers. After the public, and talk radio, got wind of this infringement on the First Amendment (aka Censorship), the FCC backed down from this rule. They didn't reduce the tax, but allowed the phone companies to label it as a tax on bills.
It's too late to remove this censorship provision in the current Arkansas bill. However, I hope that nursing home operators refuse to comply with it and show the new tax on the bills they give their residents. It is a dirty trick by our rulers to hide from personal responsibility for the taxes they hit us with. In fact, whan I prepare a tax return, I often point out how much of the taxes were due to certain things, such as the Clinton-Gore tax hike of 1993, which raised taxes tremendously on Senior Citizens. If nursing homes would label this as the "Huckabee Bed Tax," which is what people are currently calling it, I wonder how long it would last.