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Why do we pay taxes?

I am (almost) ashamed to admit that for years I didn't put 2 and 2 together about why Americans paid taxes. As a teen and young adult, I guess I just thought it was something we had to do, and accepted it. Until law school, I never really gave it much thought, to be honest. I didn't own a home, have kids or have any of the things that make someone's taxes a complicated thing. Every year I'd do my own taxes (or do them with the help of my dad) using one of those tax programs and that would be that...

I guess I always thought taxes were a necessary evil. And at some level, I thought they were a type of punishment. Or at least a huge burden.

But at some point over the years I somehow gleaned why this tax thing isn't really so bad. And here's why. As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said: “I like paying taxes. With them I buy civilization.”

Taxes are how we pay for services for the "common good" in our nation, states and towns.

First & foremost, my tax dollars go to support our military personnel - who protect us at home and abroad. Also, I, personally, like having police and fire departments on call to help if we need it. And I am so very grateful for public schools & colleges - because the kids today will run the world tomorrow - and in my opinion they should receive top notch educations, because they may be the ones who cure whatever weird disease I end up with when I get older. Hell, I appreciate having my garbage and recycling picked up on a weekly basis!

We all give to the "pot" so that we can all share certain public services. These are all services that wouldn't exist if we didn't have a way to pay for them. So either we pay taxes or we borrow money from other countries.  I, for one, am not interested in going without these "common benefit" services.  And I also hate the idea of my country having to borrow-borrow-borrow from other countries (so that they can hold those debts over us) - where the freedom in that??

So, I vow to no longer whine when I am paying my taxes. It's my patriotic duty to my country and my fellow Americans.

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Editorial on this subject from NY Times (Oct 7, 2008)
Link here

Snippet:
[T]here was one thing [Sarah Palin] said in the debate with Joe Biden that really sticks in my craw. It was when she turned to Biden and declared: “You said recently that higher taxes or asking for higher taxes or paying higher taxes is patriotic. In the middle class of America, which is where Todd and I have been all of our lives, that’s not patriotic.”

What an awful statement. Palin defended the government’s $700 billion rescue plan. She defended the surge in Iraq, where her own son is now serving. She defended sending more troops to Afghanistan. And yet, at the same time, she declared that Americans who pay their fair share of taxes to support all those government-led endeavors should not be considered patriotic.

I only wish she had been asked: “Governor Palin, if paying taxes is not considered patriotic in your neighborhood, who is going to pay for the body armor that will protect your son in Iraq? Who is going to pay for the bailout you endorsed? If it isn’t from tax revenues, there are only two ways to pay for those big projects — printing more money or borrowing more money. Do you think borrowing money from China is more patriotic than raising it in taxes from Americans?” That is not putting America first. That is selling America first.

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Oct. 26th, 2008 09:30 pm (UTC)
My thoughts exactly. You have learned very well at your fathers knee.
Dad
(Anonymous)
Oct. 27th, 2008 01:30 am (UTC)
Spot on!
You're right on. I wish there was more talk about domestic policy and the crumbling infrastructure throughout the nation. Maybe if we took more of a Keynesian approach to the economy and the gov't spent some money on the country it would create jobs fixing all the problems. So yes taxes are a good thing.

Brian O.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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