Growing up around the Jackson family table meant joining in on hours of discussions, debates, teaching, and learning. Early on, I knew my parents’ stand on taxes, as well as hundreds of other topics ranging from how to behave appropriately to religion and politics, as almost nothing was off limits, death and taxes included.
My dad thought that anyone having opinions or making decisions about government (which he opposed on general principles) should have experienced paying taxes and base those decisions on desired outcomes for taxes paid. I could see his reasoning, but I thought it far too limited, too rigid.
When I was sixteen, I went to work at B.C. Moore’s department store in Hampton, South Carolina, and paid my first income taxes. I made so little for a while that the money was returned to me, so perhaps, from Dad’s point of view, I still deserved no voice. As a teenager, I also made money playing instruments at church and then, at eighteen, in a real job on the manufacturing line in the Westinghouse Micarta plant—adult work for adult pay and adult taxes.
What I learned from my work and taxing experience is that I love to pay taxes!
Believe me, that does not jibe with my dad’s view. He never understood my reasoning. I simply look at contributing tax monies to the government of the United States of America a bit different from the way he did and the way, obviously, so many others do.
For instance, I do not complain about how my tax money is applied because every penny I pay in goes toward at least one of my favorite budget items. How do I know that? Simple: I do not contribute enough to cover all the budget for education (2.11% of the trillion-dollars budget)*, natural resources and environment (1.1%), or health care (10.37%), all of which I support. Now, if I covered those items and others I want funded and had money left over and used for items I do not want to support at this time, such as national defense (18.33%) or interest (6.39%), then I would be upset. My tiny assessment does not stretch that far, so it goes only to items I want for my country and her citizens.
Oh, yes, I am glad for those who wish to support the military or corporations (in the form of specialized deductions especially) or whatever I am not supporting to have the right to pay for their pet budget items, but covering them is their part, not mine. I do not concern myself with what they do.
Another reason I do not mind paying taxes is that I pay so little. I am not sure what tax bracket I fall into or even an approximation of my contribution, but I do know for sure that the actual expenditure I make to pay for living in the greatest country in the world is less every year than I pay to live in my 1900-square-foot house. Isn’t that amazing?
For that tiny expenditure, I enjoy safety, freedom to worship, and the right to write this post provided by laws; beauty provided by environmental controls; travel provided by safe roads and regulations covering traffic, restaurants, and hotels; protection provided by the best equipped and trained military ever anywhere; health care provided by licensed and monitored practitioners, and on and on and on and on.
I live a blessed, wonderful, resplendent, colorful, abundant life. What precisely did I do to earn that privilege? I was born in the U.S.—not actually anything I could control. Why should I not joyously return what is needed? Why should I not joyously help to provide what I have to those who are not as fortunate but who love this country just as I do?
(I have observed that many of those who complain the loudest about how much they have to pay in taxes are really just bragging about how much money they make. They still have far more left over than the vast majority of our population.)
No, I am not crazy or wealthy or a spendthrift. In fact, I am the opposite of all three (though some might argue “crazy”). I have mulled the whole question of taxation and realized that having the means and inclination to enjoy paying my part to the government has left me with great peace, great satisfaction, great pride in my tiny role in America’s greatness. I am privileged to live here and contribute here. I wish my dad had known such happiness.
*All figures are from the website www.heritage.org. and apply to the United States Federal Budget of 2013.