Thank Taxes

In the lead up to “tax day,” my Twitter and Facebook feeds included numerous links to Thank Taxes!. What am I thankful for? My first response was education — elementary and secondary education from California’s public schools and two degrees from the University of California — back in the days when tax dollars paid a much larger share of the cost of that world-class education. I’d like to think that I was a good investment. Thanks to the taxes paid by my parents’ generation, I now earn a good living and pay my taxes to educate the next generation of Californians. I even pay use taxes on my out-of-state internet purchases! I could have just easily said, “clean water and safe food” as I did in a post here last fall. There’s nothing like six weeks in India to drive home the point that for much of the world’s population, things we take for granted are a luxury. Then there’s our highway system, which allows me to whisk off for a day of glorious spring backcountry skiing in a tax dollar-supported national forest. And the list goes on.

I asked my colleagues here are the CBP — perhaps more of a random sample than might immediately meet the eye — what they thank taxes for. Here are a few replies:

  • Our research assistant by day, CSUS graduate student by night, chimed in “a great public education!”
  • A policy analyst and parent thanks taxes “for building the parks my daughter plays in.”
  • Our office manager thanks taxes for the National Park System, noting that her family is headed to Point Reyes National Seashore – one of my personal favorites — next weekend, and that she climbed the Statue of Liberty last year — a good tax day remembrance on many fronts.
  • A child-of-immigrants staffer notes that publicly supported higher education and “taxes enabled my father to provide his family with a stable, middle class life and eventually pay back into the system so that others may have the same opportunity” concluding that “I thank taxes for helping my family achieve the American Dream.”
  • Another CBP traveler thanks “taxes for clean water. I’ve never been sick in the US like I have in Mexico.
  • And two lengthy lists: “I thank taxes for my neighborhood playground; my son’s public school;the streets and highways I drove on to work this morning; the street lights, the speed bumps, the sidewalks,the curbs; the stop signs; the green lights; public libraries; and last, but not least, public school teachers for being able to read this sentence!” Another is thankful for “clean air and water; safer cars and food; parks, campgrounds, trails; processes for citizen input into local planning decisions; nursing home care for the elderly; and libraries.”

For all of this and much, much more, smile as you head —  tax return in hand — to the post office tonight

— Jean Ross

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