Why I am glad to pay taxes

The day after tax day, I have had my refund for two whole months. I don’t mention this aloud, except here. (We only did them early on the hopehopehopepleaseGodhope that we’d have a refund or two. We did. Otherwise, we totally would have procrastinated.) While listening to others kvetch about paying taxes at all (and yet they always somehow forget the sales tax and the property taxes which always make their way into a renter’s monthly payment when they’re complaining about illegals and poor people), I am actually feeling grateful and happy to pay my taxes for all the following reasons:

  • my public school education, which afforded me teachers who understood me, and allowed me to get in to a very good college
  • the public transportation I grew up using because we couldn’t afford a car
  • the public transportation I take to work every day, so I don’t have to look for or pay for parking
  • the paved roads and clear sidewalks between my house and work
  • the clean air I breathe in Boston thanks to the Clean Air Act and the Big Dig (as well as vehicle emissions controls)– the brown smudge that darkened the skyline when I was a child, and the black soot that precipitated out an hour after the snowfall are gone now
  • the 5% interest rate on my college loans, guaranteed under the Perkins program
  • the Pell Grants that paid for more than 2/3 of my college expenses
  • the 8 1/2% (max) interest rate on half of my law school loans, courtesy of Direct Loans
  • the clean water I drink, straight from the tap, and shower in every day
  • the crappy free lunches and bad USDA subsidy food that nevertheless kept us from hunger when we didn’t have enough money to buy our own food
  • public libraries, with booksbooksbooks and museum passes to borrow for those who can’t afford the admission prices to the Children’s Museum, and the Science Museum, and other places kids like to go
  • the Food Stamps that bought milk and hamburgers and tuna and egg noodles and other staples
  • the Section 8 funding that kept a roof over our heads
  • the police officers who keep my sometimes rough neighborhood generally safe
  • streetlights
  • the state park down the street from where we first lived when we were married, which harbored red foxes and brown bears, bobcats and bald eagles for our regular viewing enjoyment
  • free tennis lessons at the local rec center when I was a kid
  • flush toilets that empty into a working sewage system, so that I have clean beaches and a clean Harbor and Bay to swim in
  • a public school system with enough funds to send the one kid not going on the New York City trip, and then the other kid not going on the Washington, D.C. trip
  • public radio and public television
  • the Amtrak train to upstate New York, where my best friend lives
  • medications made under safe manufacturing conditions (say what you like about the approval process, the FDA does a fairly good job overseeing the manufacturing end)
  • the Boston Public Garden
  • a safe car, with good seatbelts and safety features, to protect me in bad driving conditions
  • plowed and salted streets and roads in the wintertime
  • the recycling program that allows me to keep my trash to less than a tall kitchen bag every week

Yep, BipolarLawyerCook– Keynsian macroeconomic tax dork. And if you think that’s bad, the Better Half was all excited when the city census came last night. “Put that on your blog– a well constructed census! And all the statistics derivable therefrom! And the services determined thereupon!” Mmm, ok, honey.Β  Maybe I am less of a dork than I thought.

What are you grateful for?


24 thoughts on “Why I am glad to pay taxes

  1. R F

    Great post. We are too quick to bitch about paying taxes and even quicker to do so when they are raised. The sad fact is that without them we would be in a fine mess.

    I’m thankful that my taxes help keep my fellow man sheltered and fed when need be and that medicare/medicaid is there for the elderely and afflicted.

    I’m also grateful for the infrastructures our tax dollars fund so that we can travel safely. I could go on but I’d like to see more people actually say what they think about the benefit of their contribution as opposed just bitching about it for once.

    Thanks for sharing this well written and thoughtful post.

  2. CTJen

    Very nice! People who complain about having to pay taxes haven’t given much thought to the direct benefits of taxes they utilize–roads, public schools, etc. They usually focus on the services they haven’t had to use themselves, forgetting completely that we are all better off if people who need help are given it. πŸ™‚

  3. Mary Ann

    I thought I was alone! I love paying taxes. I love paying my student loan bill every month. I appreciate my mortgage payment and even the cable bill. To me, this proves that I have survived my lowly upbringing and have become the kind of adult that I always secretly wished my parents would have become: STABLE.

  4. Michelle

    Well when you break it down like that I guess I am grateful for taxes…but then again we got a refund this year as well. And believe it or not for once we actualyl put most of the refund toward paying off bills and not squandering it aimlessly.

    I am grateful for all that you mention but also grateful for the job that has a parking lot so I don’t have to take public transportation….I am such a MBTA snob.

  5. Jenn @ Juggling Life

    I totally agree with you. Of course, it is frustrating when you see misuse of tax dollars. The View had a heated discussion on this yesterday. The Danish pay a 50% tax rate, but they have a host of social programs we don’t have. Their society is much more homogenous and smaller than ours, but I do think we could at least manage universal health care.

  6. Janet

    Can you still see foxes and brown bears, bobcats and bald eagles at this park? Amazing!

    Love Amtrak, so much more civilized than flying!

    And ahhhh, the Boston Common Gardens…reminds me of my grandmother! She lived in a brownstone on Clarendon St. and always took me there when I visited.

  7. Anali

    Great post! Our tax money does go toward paying for worthwhile things. As I work today, I’ll think about the things that I’m helping to pay for.

    You really put it all in perspective. Clean water and air are some of the biggest things I’m grateful for. I remember last year when my water was off for a day. It was horrible! Oh and the T too. As annoying as it is, it does make things a whole lot easier. ; )

  8. Al

    Nice breakdown. I often talk about how I don’t mind paying taxes and cite some of the same reasons you do. But I forget about the roads, etc. No more!

    Even if I did have to pay (which I didn’t) I still would’ve done mine early. Makes me less stressed.

  9. magpie

    The Medicare insurance net that is paying for much of my mother’s care.

    We got an $11 refund. That made me inordinately happy – because I planned well and nearly hit break even.

  10. seaswell

    GREAT post. so rarely do we sit down and think about ALL of the stuff taxes pay for. it’s hard to remember and to connect the two in our minds.

    maybe if we had to pay for services as we needed them… like if our house was on fire, we’d have to write a check out to the firefighters before they turn the hoses on.

  11. Maureen

    I generally don’t whine about taxes and our tax load is heavier than yours but then my hospital insurance/coverage is generally included so there’s a trade-off there!

    My dh gets very excited about any census. He relishes every detail and gets incensed when he has to pay for census information at work. I’m more of a “there’s lies, damned lies and statistics” sort myself.

  12. thordora

    I rarely ever complain about our taxes after watching my mother get sick. In the US, we would have been bankrupt.

    I love knowing I have mental health care without paying if I need it. I get very pissed when people whine about taxes, without looking at what they take for granted.

  13. ApK

    Love this post – what a great way to take stock of a matter that makes most people (myself included) very unhappy and forgetful of all the good that comes of their tax dollars.

  14. Sara

    Though I had private health insurance on and off my whole life, and until this last year have paid taxes since I started working at age 14 (31 years ago), now I am a technically indigent artist trying to make a big life shift — oh, and I also have metastatic cancer, so there’s no way I can afford insurance to cover my medical needs, and there’s no way any employer can provide me adequate insurance, either.

    However, I live in Massachusetts, where we provide subsidized medical coverage for people who can’t buy their own, or who can’t pay for it without help. So your taxes this year will probably help pay for my recent brain surgery, if the taxes you paid last year haven’t already done so. I have to say I’m really quite grateful for this.

    Oh, and I like roads and schools and all that other stuff, too. Very much. πŸ™‚

  15. LawyerChick

    Brava! My Income Tax professor was a former commissioner of the IRS and I used to come home from class musing, “I’m amazed we don’t pay more in taxes!”

    Here’s what I am grateful my taxes pay for:

    Public schools
    Health care safety net for the poor and elderly (Medicare, Medicaid)
    Financial Aid for college
    criminal defense safety net for the poor (most of the time it comports with due process)
    public transportation


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