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T H E    G I V E N    O R D E R
Tax-Wielding Maniacs
May 1999

Fifty-seven percent of a bottle of beer. One-fourth of a pack of cigarettes. 
Twenty-eight percent of a bottle of 80-proof liquor. Sixty-two percent of a pizza.

It is the aftermath of a pretty tame party; but it is also the aftermath of taxation in America. Federal, state and local taxes eat up 31% of what you pay for a loaf of bread; 25.7% of the average electric bill; half of the average phone bill; and 54% of the cost of a gallon of gas. The taxes include sales, gas import, and excise taxes, as well as taxes imposed in manufacturers and distributors. 

Most of the result of these taxes is regressive. They hurt the poor the most, by taking up a higher percentage of their income, since the poor are more likely to spend all of their wages on consumption, whereas the rich are better able to save higher percentages with low tax burden.

And new taxes are being applied at every level—production, distribution and consumption—all the processes by which a fifth of Stoli gets to a 20th birthday party, or a ham sandwich gets into the lunchbox of a 10-year-old kid.

If that doesn’t make you wonder if we are getting what we’re paying for, try this: On May 11, Tax Freedom Day, the average American will finally earn enough money to pay his taxes. That’s 137 days spent working for the Man, or over a third of the total working year. After that, he can start paying for groceries, health care, clothes, housing, and Ivy League tuition (or student loan debts).

The Tax Foundation, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, has calculated Tax Freedom Day based on historical data for the past 97 years. In 1902, Tax Freedom Day was January 31st; in 1935, February 28th; in 1974, May 1st and in 1985, April 29th. The date gets pushed back due to economic growth—more money for you means more money for Uncle Sam—as well as tax increases. (The Tax Foundation is located on the Web at 

So, May 11th, kick back, relax and have 64% of a party—you’re free.

Information on taxes for everyday items from Americans for Tax Reform,

The Yale Free Press is published by students ofYale University. 
Yale University is not responsible for its 
contents. By the same
token, The Yale Free Press is not responsible for the contents of Yale



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