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      Taxation: “To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.” — Thomas Jefferson

The sign along I-90 quotes Romans 6:23: “The wages of sin is death.”

And then there is the clever retort by author Paula Poundstone: “Yes, but by the time taxes are taken out, it’s just sort of a tired feeling.”

If your billfold is feeling a little lighter today it’s because of what occurred on Monday. Figuratively speaking, of course, since no one pays taxes with cash.

Now that Uncle Sam has taken his annual pound of flesh, the property tax deadline looms even larger.

With that in mind, here is some salve for the wound.

South Dakota ranks 42 in total tax burden, according to WalletHub, a tax web site. This reflects the state’s historic fiscal conservatism – and the help of legalized gambling revenue.

The total tax burden is just one slice of the tax pie picture. South Dakota ranks ninth in sales tax at 4.5 percent, but this is more than offset by an absence of a state income tax.

However, it is the property tax that gets the attention of most South Dakotans, and many complain that it is too high. The ranking among the states, says WalletHub, is 23, or a bit above the median.

Farmers and ranchers often argue that property taxes are excessive and plenty of city folks agree. If you depend on livestock or crops for income, which has declined in recent years, you can make the argument that relief is in order.

Interestingly, Tax Freedom Day followed the federal filing deadline by one day, according to the Tax Foundation. April 16 was 105 days into this calendar year and represents how long taxpayers have to work in order to pay the nation’s tax burden. Americans will spend more on taxes this year than they will spend on food, clothing and housing combined.

And there’s this: The top 1 percent of income earners pay 37 percent of all income taxes and the top 25 percent of earners pay nearly 86 percent of the income tax load. The figures are from 2016, the latest available, and do not reflect the federal tax legislation of a year ago. The bottom 50 percent of earners pay just 3 percent of all income taxes.

Winston Churchill’s take on taxation is worth quoting: “We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.”

April 17, 2019