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All U.S. taxpayers now finally enjoy Tax Freedom Day

Finally! Starting today, all U.S. taxpayers can enjoy their money without worrying about the tax collector.

Friday, May 9, was Tax Freedom Day for residents of Connecticut and New Jersey.

Those folks, according to the Tax Foundation's annual Tax Freedom Day calculations, the last ones to celebrate having earned enough money in 2014 to pay their total federal and state tax bills for this year.

Nationally, Tax Freedom Day arrived this year on April 21. Those 111 days into 2014 were three days later than the prior year's Tax Day.

A key reason for the slippage, says the Tax Foundation, is essentially because we're still recovering very slowly from the recession.

State tax freedom varies: On the state level, Tax Freedom Day generally arrives across the calendar's first four months thanks in large part to the various states' tax policies. Basically, though, higher-income and higher-tax states celebrate Tax Freedom Day later.

Joining the Nutmeg and Garden States in having state Tax Freedom Day slide into May is New York. The Empire State's tax payoff day was May 2.

Tax Freedom Day 2014_Tax Foundation map
Click map image for a larger view.

The state in which Tax Freedom Day arrived the earliest was Louisiana. Resident of the Pelican State, according to the Tax Foundation, have the lowest average tax burden in 2014 so they earned enough to pay off all their tax obligations by March 30.

Joining Louisiana with early Tax Freedom Days were Mississippi on April 2 and South Dakota on April 4.

So given all the various Tax Freedom Days, this 10th day of May is this week's By the Numbers figure.

Freedom is just another word...: The annual computation of when you get to start keeping the money you make is a fun topic to consider.

In reality, though, Tax Freedom Day really is nothing more than a topic for us journalists to write about on a slow news day. Yep, it's one of those here in Austin.

True, we all -- taxpayers and the governments who collect our taxes -- need to be aware of just how much we are paying. And those of us paying any amount must make sure the dollars are going for the proper projects.

That, of course, is what most tax policy debate is about. It also could consume everybody's every waking hour. So I want belabor it here.

The real reason Tax Freedom Day is primarily is a bit of a throw-away topic is the loaded word "freedom."

Freedom is an innate human desire. And tax freedom appeals to our wish to focus on how what we do relates to our wellbeing rather than for the benefit of the man, woman or, in this case, the taxing body for which we work.

But the reality is that we are never free of taxes.

Regardless of when we meet all our personal tax obligations, we get the use of the tax-provided services -- schools, roads, retirement benefits -- every day.

Most of us, if we stopped and looked closely (and were honest with ourselves), don't want to be entirely free of taxes. Would you choose to celebrate an earlier Tax Freedom Day if the tradeoff meant giving up more of the tax-provided services you depend on and enjoy?

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