Monday, August 9, 2010

Happy Meal Economics

 In the recent debate over adopting the effective tax rate raising taxes in Williamson County, one proponent of distributing more taxpayer income to county employees sniffed that the estimated increase was roughly equal to the price of one "Happy Meal" each month.

Oh! Well, if you put it that way. Just a Happy Meal, okay, well, go ahead then.

Wait a minute, just how many Happy Meals are Williamson County residents already providing? If the median home value is $188,860, and the county rate is $0.468324 per $100 valuation, then the median tax bill is about $884.48; roughly 257 Happy Meals. You also pay property taxes on a median priced home to:

  • Your City-in Round Rock @ $.39661, annually $749.04, or 218 Happy Meals 
  • Your ISD-in Round Rock ISD @ $1.3324, annually $2,516.37,  or 733 Happy Meals 
  • Austin Community College @ $.0946, annually $178.6, or 52 Happy Meals 

This brings your total property tax bill to 1,260 Happy Meals each year!

But wait, we also provide Happy Meals pay income taxes to the Federal Government. According to 2008 Census estimates, the average household income is $69,745. If you are married, filing jointly, with two dependents, and you take deductions for state sales tax, your income tax bill would be only $3,499, but since the Bush tax cuts expire this year, the bill will increase to $5,637, or 1,643 Happy Meals. 

Other discernable direct taxes include those in your Electricity, water and gas bills, about $16 a month on mine, about $5 each month on our basic cable/internet service, and taxes, fees, and surcharges make up about 45% of our phone bill at $21 each month. These various taxes equal $42 a month, $504 a year, or another 147 Happy Meals.

More difficult to decipher are gas taxes; in Texas we pay $0.384 per gallon. According to the EPA, the average vehicle travels 11,720 miles each year and gets 20.4 miles per gallon, so if our family of 4 uses two vehicles, they likely purchase 1,149 gallons of gas each year and pay $441.22 in taxes, or another 129 Happy Meals.

So far we are up to 3,179 Happy Meals per year.  But wait, there's more...

These are only the direct taxes; we all pay indirect taxes on just about everything we purchase or use since the U.S. corporate tax rate of 38% is one of the world's highest. Next year indirect taxes will dramatically increase via new federal laws on health care, the banking industry, and possibly cap and trade, and analysts are predicting a 2011 Tax Tsunami.  Those taxes are passed on to us as increased cost for the goods and services we purchase, and will amount to thousands more Happy Meals each year.

Rather than adding more, we need to find ways to give fewer Happy Meals to our ever-growing government.  As noted economist Arthur Laffer demonstrates, lower taxes and less government spending make for a strong economy.  Budget planners for both Williamson County and cities like Round Rock need to do what most American families are doing, cutting their respective budgets to cope with reduced income.  No new projects or spending should be added this year.

That would make taxpayers happy...

1 comment:

Buddy said...

How about if I just want to buy my kids a meal with my own hard earned money? You are right on, Holly! I am tired of government workers wanting more, more, more.