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Dave Chooses to Look at Paying Taxes as a Good Thing

For several years now, I’ve found reasons to use a motto loosely borrowed from comedian Bill Hicks. The basic intention of this brief saying helps me find a fresh perspective on life’s situations that may seem negative at first glance. The motto? “It’s all in how you look at it.”. Tax season reminds me of this saying.

When I look at the taxes I pay, I generally choose to look at them as a contribution to society, the advancement of my country and the things that allow it to be the greatest nation in the world. Government programs that pave roads, train and provide law enforcement and help out my family if I find myself between jobs are usually the first things that come to mind. I’m glad to contribute to these causes, and several others that my tax dollars allow for. That’s not a political statement, just a way of looking at taxes. You may have a different view, and that’s fine.

My coworker, Rudy, forwarded an email to me that put a very different spin on taxes. The email, from an organization that doesn’t have the same bright, cheery outlook on paying taxes, explains that if you paid your taxes from the beginning of 2013, you would be contributing your entire paycheck until April 18th. The 108th day of the year. It’s something they annually call “Tax Freedom Day“.

Economist William McBride gives this explanation:

“This year, Americans will work five days later than in 2012 to pay all of their taxes. The total tax bill at all levels comes to approximately $4.2 trillion, or 29.4% of their total income. That means Americans will pay more in taxes in 2013 than they will spend on food, clothing, and housing combined.”

Depressing. That’s the kind of depressing that could make me upset when I hit a bump in my taxpayer-payed paved roads, or when I see someone jaywalking without being cited by law enforcement. This is the kind of depressing that makes me want to call in sick to work until April 18th, although I’m sure that isn’t how this “paying taxes” thing works.

But instead of getting upset (I do, however, reserve the right to piece together a strongly-worded letter), I will choose to look at this whole tax situation as something that is generally good. Like changing a diaper, I will think about the good that comes of it (Clean baby, no diaper rash) rather than the bad (Did I just touch the poo with my bare finger? Yuck.).

I don’t take sides politically, and I think we all agree that, like a lot of necessary things in life, taxes are poo. But I believe they do more good than bad. If Mr. McBride chooses to live life with his finger in the poo, fine. That’s his choice. Call me naive, but I’m going to wipe it off my finger and move on.

Getty Images, Hulton Archive

How do you view paying taxes?

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