Paying your bills with real money

If you are like many Americans, you spent a good part of early April finishing your income tax returns for 2017.

The original deadline to file them was April 17, unless you requested and got an extension.

The IRS did grant a one-day extension to those who use its “Direct Pay” website because of problems.

Oh, well.

At least the government will be paid for …

Wrong.

The Internal Revenue Service collects only about $1.69 trillion in income taxes each year.

Another $1.24 trillion flows in from payroll withholding, but most of it is earmarked for programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

On the other side of the equation, Washington will spend about $4.1 trillion this year. President Donald Trump wants that to go up to $4.4 trillion next year.

So you see the problem.

The income taxes most of us see as a major burden cover only about 70 percent of the government’s spending.

There is income from other sources, of course. Corporations pay a substantial chunk of money. Various fees bring in more.

Estate taxes, tariffs and various other moneymakers chip in billions.

In the end, however, we still spend far more than the government collects.

The deficit for this year will be around $500 billion.

That will feed the national debt, now more than $21.2 trillion.

That has a cost, now and in the future, for every American.

So reflect on this: You have to pay your bills with real money.

Government doesn’t.

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