Lake Larsen | Digital Media Manager
It’s getting to be that time of the year again, everyone’s least favorite season: tax season. As your W-2s, 1099Ts and all sorts of other forms with seemingly random letters and numbers come in the mail, you might find yourself asking, “Why do I even need to pay taxes?” After all, you earned the money already — now the government is going to take it from you? Some people are so adamant about keeping their money that they adopt the slogan of “taxation is theft.” But in reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
The simple notion that taxing citizens is thievery from the government is commonly perpetuated by individuals who not only don’t understand what taxes are but also what taxes pay for.
So what is a tax? In its simplest form, a tax can be thought of as a fee you have to pay to the government. The most common form of taxes you’ll see is income tax. Based on variables ranging from your filing status to how big the check is, you’ll have different amounts taken out. And these taxes pay for a large variety of things that are vital to the existence of a first world country.
So now that you know what a tax is, it’s time to learn why taxes are actually a good thing. Do you enjoy driving on roads? How about going to a public school? Are you a fan of hospitals? All of these things in one way or another are paid for by federal and state tax dollars. The money that is taken from your check pays for the police officers and firefighters keeping you safe, the teachers that helped you learn how to read and write, and if you ever get down on your luck, your tax dollars fund the social safety nets that will get you back on your feet.
It’s important to note that taxation isn’t designed to break the bank. What you make in a year isn’t the amount you get taxed on. If you have children or are married, that lowers your tax burden. If you pay back some of your student loans or are forced to drive around a lot for work, that also helps lower your taxable income. Moreover, if you buy a hybrid car then that also helps lower your income. There are countless ways the government helps to lower the amount you have to pay. But at the end of the day, it’s still important that you pay the taxes you are asked.
The most common argument about getting rid of taxes or implementing major tax cuts is the idea of privatizing sections of the government we pay taxes to. While this can lead to cheaper costs for consumers, it doesn’t always work. In the instance of space travel, privatization has led to SpaceX being able to develop a rocket for fractions of the cost of what NASA has been able to do. However, when the tax funded NASA sends rockets to space, it’s with the intent of conducting various experiments. Meanwhile, privately funded SpaceX sends rockets to space with the intent of making a profit off cheaper rockets.
However, privatizing schools has resulted in charter schools that have some of the lowest literacy and mathematics levels in the country. On top of this there are some sectors that no business would ever want to make private, like paving and maintaining roads for free for the use of everyone because there is no monetary incentive. Based off changes we’ve already seen, giving tax cuts in exchange for privatizing sectors of the government will only result in unhappy citizens with fractions of what used to be available to them.
Taxes are a vital and irreplaceable part of living in a first world country. They take money from all citizens and use it for the betterment of the country as a whole. Thinking that taxation is theft means you either don’t fully comprehend what taxes are or you refuse to indorse the basis of what a first world country is. So instead of seeing the government as taking your money, try to think of all the good your dollars do for everyone.
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