How aware are you?
I have come to suspect that many people have little knowledge of things that confront them regularly. For reasons of space, I will limit my attestation to only one area this week as an example: sales tax.
A while back, I was sitting through a presentation about the possibility of a “tax holiday” in Indiana. It’s not a novel idea; other states have done this for a few years, and they typically fall around the August time frame.
Essentially, the state declares on one or more days that all back-to-school purchases will be exempt from sales tax. To illustrate the possibility, the two presenters then talked about how many hundreds of dollars are spent by families on clothes, book, supplies and so on and how this would enable those families to save $2 for every one of those hundreds spent.
Since Indiana sales tax is considerably more than 2 percent on the items that were mentioned and has been since I was young, I dismissed it at the time as being a presentation by two individuals who had not done their homework.
This week, however, we decided to have some remodeling work done at our house and have had contractors making suggestions. One of them pointed out that if we purchased all of our fixtures and other tangibles for the project online, we could save the 5 percent sales tax.
Right off the bat, two red flags went up. The first is that Indiana expects you to pay the tax whether the retailer collects it or not: there is a line on the annual income tax form where you get to declare said purchases.
Second, the sales tax rate in Indiana is not 5 percent on those non-food items in question and has not been for over a decade.
This led to my wondering how many actually know what the state tax rate is for non-food items such as books, televisions, and clothing.
I included it as a survey/quiz question and asked three different groups of individuals for a total of 58 responses. Of those that responded, only 69 percent correctly chose 7 percent, and the guesses given ranged from 3 percent to 10 percent.
As one might expect, the older the individual, the more likely they were to give the correct answer. But still, only 82 percent of those that would fall into the category of working adults knew the right rate.
When you think about the sheer number of purchases that are made during the course of a year, and the tax that gets added to each, you have to question how this scenario can be.
Would this be the case if we still had to count out dollars and cents to pay for purchases instead of swiping a plastic debit or credit card? If almost one third of the population doesn’t know how much they are paying for something, are there other expenses and costs that they are similarly unmindful of?
It is my contention that is indeed the case, and next week I will give two more examples to further substantiate this.
Emmett Dulaney is the author of several books on technology and an Anderson resident.
How aware are you?
- Jim Bailey: Figuring out how to have the good in life without the bad Most of us have had those faith-shaking episodes in our lives. The tragic episodes that leave us wondering what life is all about.
- Primus Mootry: There is a poet in each of us April is National Poetry Month. Throughout the country, colleges and universities, elementary and secondary schools, libraries and various publications have hosted poetry readings or featured unpublished poets.
- Scott Underwood: Nightmares from high school proms past I wore a salmon-colored tuxedo with a cummerbund and tails to my senior prom. I was 6-foot-6 and 175 pounds. A beanpole.
Maureen Hayden: Judge in gay marriage decision no activist
When U.S. District Judge Richard Young recently ruled in favor of a lesbian couple seeking recognition of their out-of-state marriage, opponents of same-sex unions called him an activist judge who was unilaterally trampling the law. The label didn’t resonate with those who know Young well.
- Charo Boyd: Social Security goes green on Earth Day and every day For years, Social Security has been at the forefront of offering convenient, easy-to-use, and secure online services. We, along with those we serve, have saved a lot of paper, shipping costs, and fuel — and cut back on a lot of carbon exhaust and pollution — by going online instead of doing things the old-fashioned, less efficient way.
- Tim Kean: Can we have a 'A New State of Mind?' I have recently read some great articles about people coming together to make a difference in the lives of children facing food insecurity. The collective effort of a group can provide some much-needed food to kids who may not have a meal when they return home from school or during the weekend.
Ken de la Bastide: County may eliminate Data Processing Board
Action two weeks ago by the Madison County commissioners to close Data Processing Board meetings to the public might run afoul of the Indiana Open Door law, and a local resident is considering filing a complaint with the Public Access Counselor’s office for a determination.
- Theresa Timmons: Dinosaurs run amok at mamaw's house I love my new job as a grandparent. It includes playing imaginary tennis with imaginary tennis rackets, making elaborate tents in the living room, and hair-pulling.
- Maleah Stringer: Volunteers needed to spend time with shelter animals Shelters can be extremely stressful places for many animals, particularly those who have been in a loving home. This is why we want people to come into the shelter and spend time with our animals — to help keep them adoptable so that when the right person comes along they are ready.
- Jim Bailey: Wages were much less back then, but so were prices If you have any questions about what economists mean by inflation, just look at yesterday’s buying power. Those old western movies talked about wages of $1 a day. That wouldn’t even buy a burger at a fast food joint today by the time sales tax is added in.
- More Columns Headlines