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HIDDEN TAXES HAVE VALLEY RESIDENTS WORKING HARDER.

Byline: Carol K. Cunningham

WE bought a coat this year to get ready for El Nino. That means another trip to the bank to transfer money from our savings account - money that was supposed to be used for our retirement.

We're not unemployed. We're not down on our luck. We're just dealing with a tax system that seems to take an ever-increasing chunk of whatever we earn.

Some of it's quite obvious. Our pay stubs show federal and state income tax, disability, Social Security and Medicare deductions. But most of the taxation is invisible. It happens every time we use a service or go shopping. And if we try to get ahead of the game by setting up a small business on the side, Uncle Sam and his co-conspirators are right there with their hands in our pockets.

When Judy Carter, dressed in her barking cocker spaniel slippers, found the tax man knocking on her door demanding that she pay for the privilege of writing at home (Daily News, Nov. 17), she was just one of the millions of Southern California taxpayers who are paying more and more in unexpected taxes.

Valley families aren't working harder and harder to have a more luxurious lifestyle. They're doing it to pay the taxes, fees and surcharges that steadily erode the spirit of propositions 13 and 218.

Everyone knows we pay taxes on April 15 (actually, we pay with every paycheck, we just calculate the damages on the Ides of April). Most of us are aware that we pay sales tax for just about everything. But what about the invisible taxes we pay on a regular basis?

Have you checked your phone bill lately? You'll find charges for Network Access for Interstate Calling, the High Cost Fund Surcharge, the Teleconnect Fund Surcharge, Universal Lifeline Telephone Service Surcharge, more federal tax, local tax, and assorted other surcharges, funds and fees, adding up to nearly 12 percent of your phone bill.

The Department of Motor Vehicles has its own assessments on whatever we drive. We are taxed at the gasoline pump. We are taxed at the airport.

If you stay at home, you get to pay property tax, complete with assessments for schools, parks, the Fire Department, flood control, mosquito abatement, 911 service (in addition to the 911 tax on your phone bill), and a hefty portion for ``voted indebtedness.''

Mind you, I appreciate having paved roads and an able-bodied fire department. But what about those excesses that the Daily News uncovers on a regular basis: secret pay raises, hushed-up building projects and City Council members who just don't seem to care about our wallets?

The Gas Company is used to impose a 10 percent L.A. city users tax, a state regulatory fee, and a Care Fund surcharge.

The city of Los Angeles then adds a 10 percent tax on water and power, plus sewer service fees (even though they can't guarantee that the ocean where the treated waste water is dumped will be safe to swim in), a state energy surcharge, a low income sewer surcharge, and $126 a year for each extra trash barrel, even those used for recycling compost.

It all adds up.

Ask yourself, how much more time could you spend with your children, or puttering around the yard, or doing charity work, if you didn't have to work so hard to pay so many taxes? Make no mistake. If they call it a surcharge, a fee, an assessment, a special fund or a contribution, unless it's voluntary, it's a tax.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:VIEWPOINT
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 23, 1997
Words:591
Previous Article:PERSONAL TRAGEDY BRINGS THOUGHTS ON EUTHANASIA.
Next Article:ALL IN A NIGHT'S WORK FOR GREEN.


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