From a very early age, taxes are somewhere on our radar. You’ve heard Benjamin Franklin’s old joke about the only two certainties in life, “Death and taxes.” Even at nine years old, you’re taxed in restaurants and games of Monopoly. But when your parents finally sit you down to have those big talks growing up, none of those talks are about how to pay your taxes, or even understanding taxes in the first place.
What Are Taxes?
In the simplest terms, taxes are when the government “passes the hat” and everyone throws in a few bucks. This happens in a few different ways and we’ll explain how taxes are paid later on. But when it comes to understanding taxes, the ultimate goal is to raise a community fund that pays for all the essentials. And as it turns out, communities have a ton of essentials. So, that fund needs to be extremely large. Everyone needs to chip in quite a bit of money, and how that money is spent shapes our entire society. So, needless to say, taxes can be a pretty emotionally charged topic. In fact, sometimes people feel so strongly about taxes that they’ve actually fought wars over it, as The British Colonies did when they fought The Revolutionary War and formed The United States of America. But regardless of which country you’re in, taxes, and the people who pay them, keep our communities running. So, knowing how to pay your taxes, and understanding taxes, are both huge parts of maintaining our collective lifestyle. The former Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.” So, let’s take a huge leap towards understanding taxes by getting a sense for what they actually fund.
Taxes Fund Our Community Services
Taxes don’t usually generate a ton of enthusiasm, but maybe understanding taxes can help with that. Because they’re an incredible example of teamwork and generally considered to be in everyone’s best interest. For example, the earliest fire departments were privatized, which was a total nightmare. If your house was burning down, hopefully a private firm would show up with a bunch of water, so you could agree on a “fair” price while your house was burning to the ground. But when everyone knows how to pay their taxes, and most importantly, does, you solve all that.
Taxes pay for our community’s fire department, police department, and post office. Pooling your funds leads to a ton of value you couldn’t unlock at the individual level. Imagine if aliens attacked Charlotte, North Carolina. You could either call Will Smith’s character from “Independence Day,” or learn how to pay your taxes and help fund our standing military.
Taxes Pay for Infrastructure
Now, think of all the infrastructure that makes your life “go.” Taxes pay for all of that, too. The highway system and paved roads are a prime example. You might not love driving up to a bunch of road construction, but it’s the entire reason we don’t have to take The Oregon Trail to work every morning. Then you have tunnels. Not only are they great for carving shortcuts through the mountains, but they’re the perfect way to “accidentally” drop those unwanted phone calls. Taxes also pay for our sewer systems, which certainly beat the “bucket method” from The Middle Ages.
They even fund our bridges so you don’t have to float your wagon across a river. Sure, taxes aren’t a ton of fun when you notice your paycheck is a little light. But understanding taxes helps that all go down a little smoother. When you see the clean water flow out of your faucet, taxes don’t feel like a burden anymore. They feel more like magic.