Taxes – Why should we pay them?

Thank you to those who commented on my thoughts last week.  You had good comments and ideas.  Let me spend a few moments expanding on the recent difficulties in Washington DC due to a lack of “collaboration” and the inability to get an agreement on expanding the debt ceiling.  Hopefully we will see that impasse come to an end today or tomorrow with what could be a palatable bill for both parties.

There is a segment of the American society very adverse to taxes.  Now, I do not like paying taxes (who does?) – whenever I get my pay check I always wonder what I could do with even half the money that is deducted in social security and Federal income tax.  And then reality sets in.

When I look at my life style – a two income family with the kids grown and gone – the amount we get to keep is a pretty good amount.  We live in a nice house; we were able to send our three kids to the college of their choice; and it looks like we should be able to retire in a few years feeling comfortable and secure.  Isn’t that the American financial dream?  And if I paid a thousand dollars more a year in taxes would that change?  Probably not!

Currently 20% of Americans control 84% of all assets in this country – I believe this segment of society has prospered and will continue to prosper if they more in taxes.

What are we getting for all those taxes that are being paid?  When I stop and consider – we are getting a lot.

Is there waste in government?  Undoubtedly.  Is there more benefit than waste?  Yes, by a thousand fold.  I have been fortunate to experience the benefits of good government programs on a multitude of levels:

  1. The first experience was in high school when my father needed significant surgery and was out of work for 8 months.  Social Security made payments to my sister and me while my mother worked full time and also took care of my Dad.  Without those payments during that 8 month period, we would have lost everything.
  2. I am a veteran and I bought my first house on the VA Bill.  Without that, I would not have been able to get into the housing market when I did.  In addition, I saw firsthand the needs of military families during my time in the service and whatever we do for military families – we could always do more.  Those families and individuals give so much so that we can live in peace.
  3. Having spent a career in the nonprofit sector – in the social services, in healthcare and now in consulting – everyday I see the good work so many nonprofits do day in and day out.  So many people helped – so many young people given guidance – wonderful things in education – so many new healthcare breakthroughs – wonderful artistic experiences that bring a ‘richness’ to life – overseas issues around shelter, healthcare, food, and water – time and time again our lives are improved across all segments of society due to nonprofits, many of which receive significant government funds and would not be able to do what they do without the government funds.

The above three examples are one persons observations – and there are many, many more examples of good things that happen every day because we all pay out taxes.

As we look at the potential collaboration between people in Congress, tax increases have to be part of the equation.  When Bill Clinton balanced the budget in his final two years in office, we had a more “balanced” tax policy.  When George Bush took office, we engaged in two wars and lowered taxes.  What were we thinking?  Whenever we went to war in the past we raised taxes to pay for the war.

Yes, we need to cut spending and yes we need to raise taxes – too many good things are happening in the nonprofit community and throughout our country to cut taxes and also cut spending.

All the best,