‘Tis the season to pay taxes.
It was a hot August afternoon, a Wednesday as I recall, when a large crowd gathered under that large elm tree at the corner of Essex and Washington streets.
They called themselves patriots, a term politicians publicly associated with radical fringe groups hiding behind false notions of patriotism to push an alternative agenda.
From the patriot perspective, they were gathering to protest tax hikes and went so far as to burn a politician in effigy from the branches of that high elm tree.
Naturally, politicians were quick to denounce the incident as rebellious and subsequently ridiculed the patriots for their actions.
Over the next few years, patriots nailed signs on the tree trunk proclaiming, ”Tree of Liberty,” only to be countered by more ridicule, until one day the government decided it had had enough, and it cut the tree down and chopped it up into pieces of tinder.
After all, what right did anyone have challenging the authority of the government to raise taxes for much-needed revenue?
The removal of this tree didn’t dissuade the patriots, who soon afterward began flying “Liberty Tree” flags symbolizing their dedication to the ideals of liberty. And they flew them all throughout the Revolutionary War.
Since then, the Tree of Liberty has been planted in various locations as a symbol of American liberty.
On the original spot in Boston where America was born, under the lofty branches of where that first liberty tree stood, a bronze plaque memorializes that day in 1766 when patriots stood up to a system over excessive taxation, “Sons of Liberty, 1766; Independence of the Country, 1776.”
As Americans, we are all united under one flag. Among the number of different flags that have united us since our founding, the Tree of Liberty flag stands proudly in the halls of our ancestors who carried it for a cause they believed in.
To be certain, not all colonialists took up that flag, some feared the retribution it would bring, and yet others ignored the goings on around them, preferring to avoid such contentious issues.
And yet others doubled down on their support of the Crown, begging for more taxes. What followed is written history: America was born.
The patriots of 1766 were protesting taxation without representation. Yet 247 years later, I wonder if “overtaxation with representation” is any better.
We are awash in overtaxation, where everything can be taxed, nearly everything is taxed and if you include carbon credits – even the CO2 you exhale qualifies as a taxable emission.
It is impossible to tally without a full-time accountant and tax lawyer keeping track each time you spend.
There are so many taxes, it is difficult for average citizens to put an exact figure on what they pay out in taxes each year.
We pay fuel taxes, electricity taxes, toll taxes, state taxes, phone taxes, SSI taxes, Medicare taxes, federal taxes, property taxes, registration taxes, government fees (taxes in disguise), penalty taxes, sin taxes, fat taxes, license taxes, disposal taxes, recycle taxes, local taxes and taxes by a thousand other names.
This includes the largest tax hike in recent history called “Obamacare,” as determined by the Superior Court of the United States.
Taxes have confounded citizens so much that if you ask most Americans what they pay in taxes they will shrug and simply quote the federal income tax rate.
As you sit down to file your taxes this year looking for those elusive deductions, scrutinize what you are really paying in taxes.
Does it resemble a Liberty Tree or is it akin to chopped up tinder.