People Everywhere Just Want to Be Free (Of Taxes)

Pennsylvanians work nearly four months a year just to pay the taxes imposed at the various levels of government. This is just one of the many findings in the Tax Foundation’s annual report on Tax Freedom Day.

The report calculates how long Americans work to pay the country's total tax bill, as well as how long residents of each state work to fund their state's tax burden. Tax Freedom Day is the point at which working people no longer labor for government and start working for themselves and their families.

In Pennsylvania, Tax Freedom Day is April 19, ranking the state a disappointing 34th in the nation. The fact that Pennsylvanians work nearly a quarter of the year to pay off a crushing tax burden should discredit the idea that residents pay too little in taxes. Federal, state, and local governments are all hitting workers hard.

Stunningly, in 2018, Americans will pay more in taxes than they will for food, clothing, and housing combined.

The size and scope of government has been growing for decades. Consequently, taxes have risen too, pushing America's Tax Freedom Day further into the calendar year.

But recent developments should give taxpayers hope. Federal tax reform has produced benefits for millions of people, including thousands of Pennsylvania workers. Additionally, state lawmakers have offered legislation to reduce Pennsylvanians’ tax burden—a move that will grow the commonwealth’s underperforming economy.

Taxation is just part of the problem. The state’s overspending habit is posing serious fiscal challenges and must be addressed to avoid future budget crises. One tool for fiscal restraint is the Taxpayer Protection Act (TPA), which keeps spending growth limited to the combined rate of inflation and population.  

Passing a budget adhering to the TPA’s spending cap is a good first step on the road to financial stability. Lawmakers can go even further by adopting House Bill 110, which enshrines the TPA into the Pennsylvania Constitution. The bill has already passed the House and now awaits action in the Senate.

Adopting the TPA and other long-term reforms can pave the way for Pennsylvanians to spend less time working for the government and more time investing in their futures. They deserve nothing less.