Make the tax system fair

Tax day is here. The deadline to file federal tax returns is today. It was pushed back because the usual April 15 deadline was Saturday, and because Monday is a holiday in the District of Columbia.

Millions of Americans still need to rush to the post office or rush off payments electronically to Uncle Sam and to the individual states.

Minnesota taxpayers will definitely pay their fair share this tax season. While the District of Columbia paid the most taxes per person in 2016 at $37,000, Minnesota taxpayers were No. 3 at $14,624 per person.

So as you write those checks to the federal government and the state of Minnesota, you are probably wondering where your hard-earned money is going. Some believe that most of the money goes toward welfare and foreign aid. Others believe defense and corporate welfare dominate the budget.

According to the National Priorities Project, 28.7 cents of every dollar goes toward health entitlements (Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare). Defense is next at 25.4 cents and interest on debt follows at 13.7 cents, unemployment and labor at 8 cents, veterans benefits at 5.9 cents.

In Minnesota, education takes up nearly 35 percent of the budget, while health care is right behind at nearly 24 percent. Transportation is at 11 percent and property tax aids and credits at almost 7 percent.

Is it all justified and fair? No, there is some wasteful spending. But we also have to pay for services we take for granted.

The trick is making the tax system fair. And the U.S. Congress and the Minnesota State Legislature have been struggling with fairness for too many years with little results. Tax reform is needed to get rid of the loopholes.

At the same time, Congress and the Minnesota State Legislature must rethink how they are spending the people’s money. It’s time for both bodies of government to get to work and get serious about reform.

But it must be fair.

As taxpayers, we should expect our tax dollars are spent in ways that reflect our priorities.