Sales tax-free "holidays" have been a popular feature around the country in recent years, particularly just before school starts.
But when it comes to the federal income tax, every day of the year is a tax-free holiday for growing numbers of Americans.
And that's hardly a good thing.
In fact, it's absolutely ominous.
According to the Tax Policy Center in Washington, nearly half of all American households -- 47 percent -- will pay no federal income tax for 2009. And many will actually come out ahead -- getting "refunds" of taxes they didn't pay -- thanks to tax credits and such.
Much has been made in recent years of the "Bush tax cuts" for wealthier individuals, and certainly there have been benefits for higher-income Americans. But the class warfare waged by Democrats is sorely misguided.
Here are the facts:
- The top 1 percent of wage earners in this country pay more than 40 percent of all federal income taxes.
- The top 5 percent pay over 60 percent of all federal income taxes.
- The top 10 percent pay over 71 percent of all federal income taxes.
Those numbers completely debunk the emotional blackmail coming from the left about who pays the freight in this country.
But it is what it is, as they say. The more troublesome statistic is that we are approaching the day when a majority of this country pays no income taxes.
Think about the ramifications of that.
When a majority of voters receive government services without paying for them, the natural incentive is to seek more of those services -- and not to bother about whether tax rates have to increase to support those services.
That starts a political and mathematical chain reaction that leads toward a financial meltdown. It is simply unsustainable.
Nor is it healthy, even for those who end up on the receiving end.
"We have 50 percent of people who are getting something for nothing," Curtis Dubay, senior tax policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, told the Associated Press.
National policies cannot help but be warped if half or more of the people in this country have no skin in the game.
Moreover, you have to ask: Should Americans even want a tax system that requires nothing of so many of us? Where's the pride? Where's the American spirit of self-reliance and selflessness?
Tax time tends to pervert the spirit. Americans are the most generous on Earth when it comes to helping out the less fortunate with their time, talent and treasure. One recent news report brought that home in a very personal way: A nurse headed for volunteer work in Haiti broke her leg in three places, then learned she had breast cancer -- and she still left for Haiti.
Yet, late-night television ads happily trumpet how individuals and couples have managed to drastically reduce or eliminate the federal taxes they owe. Is that really something to celebrate? Didn't those people just shift more of the tax burden onto you?
A lower tax burden for all is a good thing. But shifting the weight too much to one side of the boat will only make it perilously unstable.
We're all in the same boat. Shouldn't everyone who's capable grab an oar?