How to Keep the Government Out Of Your Wallet

by David Bakke

When it comes to us regular “Joe the Plumber” type Americans, it’s very easy to feel helpless when it comes to the government and their seemingly pathological need to get into our wallets whenever they see fit. You may think that there is nothing that can be done about it; that it’s simply a fact of life. Well, that mindset couldn’t be further from the truth. Actually, there are a lot of things that you can do to stop this from happening. The government has been hit just as hard as us regarding the recent economic downturn, so these attempts are liable to be popping up in your life now more than ever. It’s not always easy, but if you want to do more than just complain at the water cooler, then please, read on.

Pay Attention!

The first thing you need to do if you’re trying to minimize the government’s taking of your money is to pay attention. Pay attention to your finances, that is. I know this may come as a shock to you, but the government could be sucking money out of your household without you even knowing it. They’ll slip a little extra fee in on certain things; they’ll tell you there’s nothing you can do about other things, etc. But if you don’t pay attention, then you don’t even have a good place to start. Read your bills, check your statements, and when in doubt, ask questions.

Educate Yourself

This is the part that will involve some work on your part. I know that’s not the most enticing thought in the world but when it comes to my money; I have no problem investing a little time and effort into it. You need to educate yourself. Especially when it comes to things that you think you have no control over. When your property tax bill comes in the mail, and it’s higher than it was last year, do you simply write out a check for it? Do you ever question the amount there? Well, if that’s the case you might want to find out where your increase came from, and whether or not there is something you can do about it. A lot of times, there is. I’ll provide a few specific tips on this in my examples section.

Fight Back

Next, it is imperative that you actually get up and do something about it. I get so tired of hearing what I call “water cooler whining” from my friends and co-workers about the government and their money, because I know that these people will do nothing about it. They are more content to feel sorry for themselves than they are willing to act. As I said, this is not always going to be easy. You may have to pick up the phone a few times until you get through to the right person, you may have to write a letter or two. But the way I see it, were talking about YOUR money. I can’t think of much else that is more worth fighting for.

Taking Action

Now, I’d like to outline for you a few examples where I was actually able to fight back and prevent the government from taking some of my hard earned money. Some of these examples don’t involve the greatest dollar figures in the world, but to me, it was all worth it.

Tags–Involving tag fees for your automobile, when I recently received my renewal notice in the mail, I noticed that the amount was more than twice what it was the previous year (paying attention). After reviewing my bill, I noticed that the county had automatically scheduled me to receive an actual new license plate, rather than the sticker that I usually get. When I first inquired, I was told some bill was passed and this was an automatic fee for everyone. I made another phone call after doing a little research, and I uncovered how to go about getting this extra fee taken off. I saved myself little over $40.

Property Tax Assessment—The property taxes that you pay are based on the value of your home. Well, as I am sure you know, the value of most homes in this country has decreased tremendously. Well, the government doesn’t seem to be aware of that. Did you know that there is a way to dispute the property value of your home? Nobody is going to do this for you. The process varies from state to state, but you should look into it (fighting back). The savings can be substantial. I’m disputing mine for the following tax year, so I don’t yet know how much my savings will be.

General Property Taxes—Recently, I received a notice in the mail that stated that the county where I live had contracted one sanitation company for garbage pickup and recycling. The fees were substantially higher than I was used to paying. I called every one that I could find, and wrote every letter that I could. Unfortunately, I was unable to get anything done. The only option I found out was to vote against anyone on my local Board of Commissioners who approved the contract, and I did so. Lawsuits have already been filed by other politicians to get this contract voided, and with the support of several petitions, maybe we’ll still end up winning.

Tax Withholding—This isn’t necessarily a battle that I took on, but for those of you that get big tax refunds each year, do you realize that you’re giving the government an interest-free loan on your money throughout the year? After I realized this (educating yourself), I increased my number of personal allowances to the correct amount. Now, I keep my hands on my money rather than loaning it to the government.

My Final Word

So as you can see, there are ways to keep the government out of your wallet. Unfortunately, almost all of them involve action. You need to wake up and realize when the government’s is trying to take money from you unfairly, research what you need to do to stop it, and then put that research into action. There is nothing more satisfying in this world than stopping the government from taking money from me unfairly. And, after you’ve done it for the first time, I’m sure you’ll feel the same way.

Have you taken on the government and won? Your stories and comments are appreciated below.

{ 1 comment }

1 Mel August 26, 2013 at 10:15 pm

My property tax for my 2002 Chev Cavalier was based on a value far above what Kelley Blue Book listed for the car. I wrote a letter asking that they either purchase the car for the value they had assessed, or reassess based on reality. I provided details (mileage, condition, etc). They reduced my tax bill to 50% of the original bill. Savings? $20. Satisfaction? Priceless.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: