msnbc.com
updated 4/15/2005 5:51:35 PM ET 2005-04-15T21:51:35

We invited readers to sound off on taxes and got a surprisingly mixed bag of responses.  Sure, plenty of people are angry about what they consider high taxes, and some harbor a sneaking suspicion that the rich don't pay their share.

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But we also heard from plenty of people who are downright proud to pay taxes, knowing that their money goes to pay for roads, schools and the protection offered by the armed forces.

"Why should anyone be upset about having to pay their fair share?" asked Sean in Atlanta reader. "After all, where do they think the money to pay our soldiers, firemen and police officers comes from?"

Nicholas, a 25-year-old Houston resident, said, "I almost enjoy doing them, since I always get a refund, so I am always excited to see how much I will be getting back."

Other readers had complaints, about the "arduous" process that usually sends taxpayers for professional help. Some readers called for major reform, such as a single-rate flat tax or a tax on consumption rather than income. Those are among the ideas likely to be considered by a panel appointed by President Bush to recommend an overhaul of the federal income tax system.

We also heard a smattering of comments about the alternative minimum tax, a feature that forces many middle-class wage-earners to recalculate their income and pay a higher rate.

"I don't mind paying my fair share, but by no means do I expect a surprise attack," said Chuck of Springboro, Ohio. "Watch out Americans, the AMT is coming to a return near you!"

Here is a selection of letters from our mailbag. Some letters have been edited for length or style:

For those who moan and groan about having to pay taxes, I offer this analogy: Think of your taxes as your membership dues to the United States of America, the greatest club on earth.  Tax time is when we are asked to pay for the privilege to live in this great country.  Most Americans are members of various clubs and societies, and those often require dues to be paid in order to enjoy benefit.  As an American, you enjoy the benefits of freedom and democracy, free speech, an alleged free press, roads, schools and health care for those who need help the most.  Now is the time when we are all asked to pay our dues, our fair share. So stop your moaning, for the tax man cometh.
— A.C., Austin, Texas

My husband is retired and I am an elementary school teacher. My husband has done extra jobs in the past where the taxes were not taken out which caused us to owe more last year than this year. I don't think it is fair that my husband has to pay taxes on his pension or on part-time work. He has paid his dues and that should be enough. As for me, I pay and pay and work my butt off. It really frosts my cookies when I think about all the tax breaks that big corporations have and find in order to NOT pay taxes while the working man/woman pays through the nose. I also feel that IRS is allowed way too much power, practically Gestapo-like, in order to collect taxes. I wish George Bush would help the working people instead of the big corporations.
—N.J., Olmsted, Ill.

I don't feel that anyone on retirement should have to pay more taxes — not just IRS and state, but also property taxes.  We are on a fixed income ,and this creates a hardship for everyone.  We paid taxes for over 33 years, while working, and I feel we should not have to pay anymore!! They give corporations a huge break, but not the elderly!
—Allie

The tax system in the United States is absurd!  We are too scared to change this out-of-control system.  This is why we can not improve our taxes, Social Security, or health care systems.  We will grumble and complain forever, unless we are brave enough to make a stand, and change for the better.  We buy the first new TV set on the market, but keep out of date systems forever — go figure!!!
— J.S., Delta, Pa.

Taxing income is absurd and detrimental to American business and the economy.  It's time to go to "use" taxes.
— D.O., El Cajon, Calif.

I did my taxes myself using a web-based tax software program and it was easy as pie.  I don't understand why people get so angry about taxes this time of year.  Why should anyone be upset about having to pay their fair share? After all, where do they think the money to pay our soldiers, firemen and police officers comes from?
— S.E., Atlanta

In general, taxes are way too high and the current bracket we have today punishes achievement. The "more you make the more you pay" liberal theory is unfair and only benefits those who choose not to work and live on entitlements that are paid by those of us who do work and get mugged on April 15.
— A.M., Trenton, Mo.

My husband and I have a pretty good income, but are not rich.  Both of us work, we have one son, but year after year, we do not receive a part of this "tax cut" we keep hearing the politicians talk about.  We have all the challenges of a typical family, medical expenses, day-care expenses, mortgage, but it seems our burden has increased, not gone down.  I am REALLY sick of the tax-cut promises that our government so carelessly tosses around.  I will remember this in 2006 and 2008 when we vote.
— Katie, Atlanta

I am an accountant who does my own taxes as well as those of all of my various family members as well as a few friends.  Most of them are too scared to even attempt to do their own taxes. While in college I took a full eight-week course on understanding tax codes and, to be honest, I found it the most difficult course that I took. Something needs to change.
— Robert, Linn, Mo.

I am damn proud to be able to do my part to help support this great nation with my measly taxes. I abhor those wealthy, (penny pinchers) who want to live here but don't want to do their part to support our nation. It's about time the government changed its tune on tax evaders. I hope the government gets all the back pay those millionaires owe from the last 20 years.
— J.K., Lake City, Fla.

Two words: flat tax. If one believes that all men are created equal, a graduated income tax is our government's blatant prejudice.  It is obviously unfair and inherently biased.
— J.C.R., Lebanon, Mo.

I strongly believe that the current tax system is thoroughly flawed. It's too complicated, and unfairly burdens the middle class. This year's AMT tax table had left me with a bitter taste. What happened to the so-called George W. Bush tax cut ? Were they limited to the very rich? This country needs a new flat federal tax capped at 10 percent, for both individuals as well as corporations.
— N.R., New York

I hope the estate tax elimination is made permanent. I paid tax on every dollar I have accumulated, and to tax it again is folly. I could pile all the money up and burn it and owe nothing, but if I leave it to my heirs I give half of it to the government. Family businesses are wiped out by the burden, and they are the lifeblood of this country. Why kill the goose?
— J.S., Atlanta, Ga.

What does the average American get for all the increasing taxes we pay? There is a big con game coming out of Washington, from the president's office and all the way down. America, according to polls, is the 37th worst health care system in the world. France is No. 1. The system is for government and the wealthy, but certainly not for the average US citizen, one day perhaps the general public will wake up to this giant scam and totally unfair system of taxation.
— H.C., Cleveland

My soundoff on taxes is about the whiny rich who would rather watch children go hungry or die for lack of medical care than spend one of their precious dollars on taxes to fund programs for the unfortunate Americans — and there are many. I find it repugnant that there will be generations of 'slugs' who benefit from the work and earnings of their parent(s) but never have to do a day's work in their life.  I believe most of inherited wealth should always be taxed. To give someone a free ride without ever having to pay a penny in taxes while the middle class and working poor pay to support this country is a crime against humanity!
— D.B., Hamshire, Texas

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