I have written a great deal in the past on taxation, for instance Taxation and Morality. I have also suggested that people generally underestimate - vastly - how much tax they actually pay. This is because they focus on personal income tax rates to the exclusion of everything else - property taxes, sales taxes, state & local taxes, licenses, fees, etc., etc. The political/bureaucratic class is very efficient at spreading and hiding the pain so you're never completely aware of just how much you're sending their way.
A great example was handed to me just yesterday across the counter at the Enterprise Car Rental office at Denver International. I had rented a Jeep Grand Cherokee for two days for the all-time awesome rate of $7.43 a day. When I got the bill, it came to $98.50! Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis!?
Let's break it down:
Basic charge $14.86 (7.43 x 2)
Collision Damage Waiver 29.98
Accident Insurance 10.00
Supplemental Liability 23.90
Road Safety Program Fee 4.00
Facility Use Fee 3.20
Concession Recoup Fee 5.42
Sales Tax 7.14
The bottom four items are taxes, plain and simple (the Denver Airport is a public facility). They total $19.76, which is more than the rental cost!
The other biggie was insurance, totaling a whopping $63.88. Yes, it's optional, but it really isn't. I would argue this is, at least in part, a tax as well. It is an artificially high number because of our completely screwed up tort system, a situation which exists solely because trial lawyers are huge political contributors. Your money goes to the plaintiffs bar, and then a chunk is forwarded to their buddies in the Beltway. From where I sit, I'm getting taxed, only this is even worse since with normal taxes there's at least a (small) chance that the money goes to something useful. Here, it goes into the campaign kitties of politicians that I uniformly detest.
(As an aside, no one should interpret this as a swipe at Enterprise, a company that has uniformly excellent service.)