Was anybody else as amazed as I was at the story in the Indy Star earlier this week about the number of Americans who don’t pay any taxes? According to the story, “there are so many tax breaks that 45% of U. S. households will pay no federal income tax for 2010 according to an estimate by the Tax Policy Center, a Washington, D.C. think tank”
I recognize that there are many folks of limited income who don’t, and from my perspective, shouldn’t pay a lot of taxes–they need every cent they have to live. But I have a hard time believing that those folks make up 45% of U.S. households.
At a time when it seems like every program that provides supports for the most vulnerable U.S. citizens is being threatened by, if not already sliced by the budget cutting knives, we need to take a good hard look at this tax issue. I am no economist but I think it is a question of all doing their fair share to support the benefits that each one of us receives. My taxes support the brave men and women who support my freedoms; it pays for the interstates I drive on; the police and fire departments that keep me and my family safe; the folks who pick up my trash and recyclables; the schools that educate our children; and lots of other things that there’s not enough space to list. Those benefits serve all of us, not just those who pay for them. So shouldn’t all of us contribute toward them? If I am paying my taxes–and I did–then it would be nice to know that all my fellow citizens were doing the same. Note: I am not saying I want to pay more taxes; I am saying I want the playing field to be leveled.
We all tend to value more those things that we pay for–so would we value all the benefits we each receive if we all had some skin in the game? Maybe if everybody really were paying their fair share, we wouldn’t be facing the deficits we are confronting. If everybody were contributing, at least those deficits wouldn’t be so large. We have a lot of great minds in this country; it’s time we put some of them to work coming up with solutions instead of just bemoaning the problem. I am all for cutting waste and efficiency; I am also all for fairness.
Who knows? We might find some money to pay for home healthcare, good schools, better roads, out of school time programs, and all the other things we are being told “We can’t afford that!”