Taxes with a Glad Heart

Taxes get a bad name. We complain, revile, resist, and try to escape or minimize them. Our legislatures argue about who should pay more or less, and how to divide up what they collect.

What’s your fair share? Well, let’s face it: most people don’t really want to pay THAT much! I tend to think my fair share is less than they ask me to pay! Everybody likes getting something for free, but eventually somebody has to pay the bill.

Taxes are how we pay the bill for the stuff the government provides. We like having schools, so that knowledge can be passed on to the next generation… and our neighbors won’t be so god-awful dumb. We like roads to drive on, and water to drink, and a military to protect us. We like to have a rescue squad and a fire department when hard stuff happens. And a postal service to deliver our birthday cards and an occasional hand-written letter (remember those?). We like going to the park: the dog park, the playground, the tennis courts and baseball diamonds. We like to know that grandma can go to the doctor and she won’t starve or freeze next winter.

To live in community, we must each contribute to the community.  No government is perfect in operation, but it’s the way we legislate community…. and some form of “government” is part of every functioning community on earth.  Unless you live alone and totally self-sufficient on a desert island, you need to contribute to the community… and one of those ways is by contributing money in the form of taxes. 

There have been various pipe-dreams: “communism” and “trickle-down economics” and “thousand points of light” come to mind…. but the reality is that we need a system of getting everyone to contribute to the Common Good.  It ain’t perfect, but it’s the best we’ve come up with so far.

I admit that it is difficult for me to choose to be “generous enough” all on my own.  Sometimes it’s like the Civil Rights movement – you just have to legislate things – even if they’re already “right” – to get it done, to get past the very human tendency toward greed or fear.

At heart, I am a socialist because I want a world that works for everyone, not just the top 10%, and not just the people who are skilled enough to be “successful” in a financial way.  There are some people who are just incapable of supporting themselves. (Jesus said “the poor will always be with you.”) We don’t like it when they become dependent or homeless, due to low IQ, emotional problems, disabilities, addictions, whatever. Somehow they just can’t cut it in the modern world. But there they are, and we as a society need to provide for them in some way. Even if it’s not “fair.” (Surely you’ve figured out by now that life isn’t fair.)

I came to believe that the world needs beggars and welfare queens (that’s largely a myth, by the way). Why? To teach us how to be generous. To get us to exercise our compassion muscle. We need occasional economic downturns to rein us in, to remind us of our blessings, to give us perspective and maybe a new approach, a course correction.  We seem to need to suffer ourselves to teach us empathy for the ways that other people suffer. (Every time I get the flu I remember why I respect people who live with chronic illnesses.)

I recommend giving thanks for the opportunity to pay taxes. It is important to spend more time in gratitude… and less in resentment…. if only to keep the Flow of abundance going in our lives. Be glad that you make enough money to need to pay taxes! It is a blessing to be abundant enough to be able to share. Be grateful for the opportunity to help your neighbors, to make a better world for us all.

Grateful people are happier people. What would it be like to be grateful for absolutely everything that came into your life? I’m certainly not there for more than moments at a time… but it would be an amazing mindset to live in.

Bottom line:  I consider it a civic duty and a spiritual imperative to contribute money to my government…. maybe even a privilege. So this year, I will choose to pay taxes with a glad heart.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

About lytingale

Musician (singer, piano, flute, etc), Songwriter/Composer/Arranger, Voice Teacher, Accompanist, Wedding Officiant, Writer.
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