It’s that time of year again. It seems like tax season always rolls up on me…and quickly. I have gotten better at keeping receipts and trying to stay organized so when tax season comes along, I have all of my paperwork ready for preparation. For some people, though, tax season makes them anxious or even frustrated if they feel like their money is not being put to good use. I know there appears to be quite a bit of waste on the local, state, and federal levels. However, our tax money does pay for necessary institutions and projects, even if we do not use all of them.
I did not go to public school. I do not have any children, but I still pay my taxes. Some of that money goes toward paying for public schools from pre-K through college and I am just fine with that. I believe in an educated citizenry and want to fund education even if I do not use the resource myself.
Every time I see a fire truck racing to save a family, their most precious belongings, and their home, I am glad my tax dollars are going toward a necessary public good to serve and protect society. (I have more complex thoughts about the police, but that’s for a different column…)
Part of paying taxes also means that sometimes you pay for things you don’t always want, but we must take the good with the bad. If everyone contributed their fair share, then we would have money to pay for all of the goods and services we need. Part of the problem and extreme frustration is that far too many wealthy and extremely wealthy Americans are not paying their fair share. It makes no sense that people who make some of the least money pay a much larger percentage of their salaries in taxes when compared to wealthy Americans. We must pressure our elected officials to change the tax code to make paying taxes more equitable for working and middle-class folks.
When I was growing up, we used to joke that the only thing we had to do in life was “Stay Black and die!” One day, a friend overheard us and added that we must “Stay Black, die, and pay taxes!”
Paying taxes is an essential part of making our democratic republic run efficiently and effectively, but we all need to contribute to creating the society we want to see. If you haven’t started getting your receipts in order, I implore you to do so…and quickly. If you need more information about how to file or have any questions, go to www.irs.gov to find out more. May this tax season help you feel like a part of a whole.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University; the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream”; and co-host of the podcast FAQ-NYC and host of The Blackest Questions podcast at TheGrio.
An important issue, Dr. Greer. I would like to remind seniors that complimentary tax services are available to those with modest to moderate incomes.
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