You have probably heard the old adage that the only certainties in life are death and taxes. It's not something I agree with, but as the calendar hits April 15 I am reminded of the fact that many Missourians will be in mourning as they say goodbye to their hard-earned tax dollars. My hope is that you were one of the fortunate ones who actually received a refund from the federal and state governments. It seems like “bonus” money, but never forget that you only received a refund because the government took too much money out of your paychecks last year. For everyone else who will be writing a check to settle up with the government, it's a time to think about how much we are really paying in taxes, where that money is going, and how effectively, or ineffectively, it is being used. According to estimates from the chief economist at the Tax Foundation, Americans will earn $14.366 trillion in income this year. Of that figure, $2.764 trillion will go to the federal government and $1.459 trillion will go to state and local taxes. If you run the numbers, you see that 29.4 percent of total income for the average American will go be used to pay a tax bill. That number equates to more than they will spend on food, clothing and housing combined. So yes, an enormous amount of the money we earn ultimately ends up in the coffers of the government. I have mentioned in this column in the past how we budget at the state level, and I hope most readers can feel confident that their state government is not wasting their tax dollars. Just like you pay your taxes and your bills, the Missouri government lives within its means and meets its obligations. We do not engage in deficit spending, rack up huge debts that future generations will have to pay off, or borrow money from the Chinese. Instead, we treat our tax dollars as the precious commodities they truly are. By comparison, our federal government continues to spend money as fast it can be printed or borrowed. Our tax dollars are sucked into a black hole of spending with no hope in sight that they will be used with any degree of fiscal responsibility. Did you realize that the budget proposed by the president for this year would spend $4 trillion? That would be the highest level of federal spending EVER, and an increase of 34 percent over the previous year. Compare that $4 trillion figure to the $2.764 million in tax revenue the federal government will receive and you can see that our government will once again add a record amount to the ever-increasing national debt. By the way, that national debt figure has now topped $16.8 trillion and is growing at the rate of $3 BILLION every DAY. Again, this is because the federal government refuses to live within its means and continues to spend our tax dollars with alarming carelessness. Even more painful is that this is despite the fact our federal tax burden has increased and will continue to increase. On January 1 of this year 13 new tax increases went into effect, including a 2 percent payroll tax increase that hits all Americans earning a paycheck. Even worse news is that more federal tax increases are on the way. The sad truth is that the federal government continues to ask us to pay more and more, and all it does is result in the folks in Washington, D.C. spending at an even higher rate. Our national debt continues to grow and grow because our tax dollars can't keep pace with the out-of-control, irresponsible spending of the federal government. If your tax bill was large this April, think about this for a moment: If all Americans took an equal share in paying off our enormous national debt, the bill to each of us would be in excess of $53,400. I don't know about you, but I don't appreciate the federal government sticking me with a bill that is nearly twice as much as the average worker in our part of the state makes in a year. The only good news I can offer on this tax day is that our tax burden here in Missouri is one of the lowest in the nation. You may not have realized it, but Tax Freedom Day here in Missouri took place a week ago on April 8. It's on this symbolic day that the average worker, if they devoted all of their paycheck to their tax bill, would have earned enough to pay their taxes for the year. Because of our lower tax burden in Missouri, our Tax Freedom Day is the 14th-earliest in the nation. I know it's only some small solace, but I hope we all can appreciate that at least our state and local governments want us to keep more of our hard-earned dollars in our pockets where they belong. Let's hope the federal government starts to take a page from the Missouri playbook before it's too late. As always, should you have any questions, feel free to contact my office at 573-751-1688, or Jason.Smith@House.mo.gov.