Last night, an ice storm hit Cincinnati the likes of which I had never seen. Well, there might have been one or two that were worse. Anyway, that’s how I spent the morning doing my taxes instead of strolling Findlay Market in search of dinner date-worthy meat and veggies.
I think I probably have a completely different mindset about taxes than everyone else in America, so I don’t talk about it much. It seems like people have such a strongly-held belief that taxes are evil and there’s nothing you can do to change it.
I’ve always been a big reader, and in my early teens, I was on a kick of reading biographies of athletes and historical figures, because I’m a big freaking weirdo. One of my favorite stories was that of James Madison and the formation of the U.S. government. It fueled a lifelong interest in government and politics including working for the current Cincinnati mayor’s campaign and actually running for office myself when I was 18. For me, the government has always been a good thing.
It still is. I don’t get mad about paying taxes. Granted, I’m a poor person, so I usually get a federal tax refund. In response to Mitt Romney, I’m totally willing to disclose my federal tax returns. I made about $21k in 2011, paid a bit over $3k in tax, and I’m getting a $1700 return. I paid about 6% of my income in federal tax (all of these numbers are rounded). I guess someone who is paying 33% would be pretty pissed that I’m paying only 6%, but I bet they wouldn’t switch me salaries, either.
Is it an interest-free loan of $1700 to the federal government, which they may have spent on very nice ketchup for the White House kitchen? Yup. But I still think like colonists in that hey, I’m getting taxed, but I’m also getting represented (they had a much catchier phrase). I don’t expect the government to do everything it does for free. I don’t even like a lot of the stuff they do, but I like plenty and I benefit from a lot of it. I’m not here to live in a society without contributing to it, including paying taxes. I guess I could get mad at the people who pay less than me, or the people who are really rich and pay nothing in taxes because they can afford good accountants and lawyers, but I’m not going to make any more money by being worried about their pockets.
I suppose I’d prefer not to pay any taxes, but that’s never been a consideration for me, because I don’t think I’m entitled to getting things for free. Do I wish I could pay less until I earn more? Well, sure. That’s why I vote the way I do. But for some reason, paying taxes isn’t a patriotic thing to do. It’s ironic, since without taxes, we never would have started this country. Religion might be why pilgrims left, but taxation without representation (that’s it! I knew I’d remember) is what spurred sovereignty.
And who knows, maybe that ketchup was used by Seal Team 6 when they visited the White House, in which case, I’d want the best ketchup my tax dollars can buy.