Coffee Break

What Do You Pay Your Taxes For Anyway?

None of us embrace the idea of paying taxes. When our returns roll around, most of us can think of nothing worse. It feels like just chucking money away. Whether you’re paying an individual or corporate rate, it’s something you could do without.

In truth, though, paying taxes is crucial for a happy and healthy society. What benefits we do have are only possible because of taxpayers like you. At least, that’s how it should be. The reality is that such benefits are forever under threat anyway, especially with Trump attacking things like Medicaid and disability support.

It’s enough to make you wonder why you pay taxes. If what little benefit you saw before are disappearing, why are you throwing that money away? In truth, it isn’t always easy to understand during tumultuous political times. But, to help ease the sting of those lump payouts, let’s consider what your taxes should pay for in theory, and what you can do if you don’t think they’re being used in the right way.

Reliable services

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A significant portion of the taxes you pay go towards public services. These include everything, from the police force to bin collection. Crucial services, we’re sure you’ll agree. In fact, the majority of citizens don’t mind paying for services like these. All the better for a safe and civil society. If we went even one week without such individuals, it’s likely anarchy would take charge. The streets would be lined with trash, and crime would be rife across. Hence why we pay taxes and pay the wages for those who provide services in the public sector. Our taxes are also used for equipment and buildings for services like these. Again, it’s hard to argue with that. Those firemen can’t save your life without a fire engine.

The issue we get with this area is that services aren’t always as reliable as they should be. In some regions, bin collections are consistently late or non-existent. And, the police force famously serves the middle-class, white American citizen much more readily than a working-class black family. Hence why crime runs rife in some areas, and is hard to see in others. These inconsistencies are especially unfair when you consider that individuals from every area pay the same taxes. If you feel like public services are a let down where you are, don’t be afraid to start petitions, and take the issue to the top until you see change.

General upkeep

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You also pay taxes to ensure the general upkeep of your area. That means road maintenance, proper keeping of green spaces, and even safe and even paved areas. All these can form significant expenses, so the need for taxes is easy to see. And, let’s be honest; upkeep like this can benefit everyone in a society. If we want those public parks, it’s crucial to accept that the money has to come from somewhere. If we want potholes filled promptly, again, there needs to be a source of funding.

But, in many areas, general upkeep is even more of an issue than public sector neglect. In fact, many cities are in a state of disrepair terrible enough to leave residents wondering where their taxes disappear. American roads are notoriously bad in deprived areas. In fact, in areas like Illinois and Connecticut, 73% of roads are in poor condition. That’s compared to states such as Indiana, where only 17% of the roads need work. That’s a shocking discrepancy for residents who pay equal taxes.

What’s more, pavements and green areas are often left to fall into disrepair. Individuals are left with no choice but to contact slip & fall lawyers due to uneven and unsafe paving. Greenery becomes littered and out of control with no maintenance to speak of. And, again, these issues are much more prevalent in more impoverished areas. Much like above, the best way to tackle these issues is to protest as a state. It’s also crucial for as many people as possible to bring claims against the government if they experience injury or wrongdoing because of these neglects. After all, if there’s one thing your council care about, it’s money. Hit them where it hurts to make sure they sit up and take notice.

Public transportation

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Let us not forget that taxes also go a large way towards covering costs of public transportation. That’s an expense we can all get behind, given that nothing’s better for saving money on a vehicle than taking the bus instead. Not to mention the amount you could save yourself on fuel and maintenance costs. Given that the average American now travels at least 26 minutes to work each day, the savings of public transport would be extreme.

That is, of course, if the service was as good as it should be, given its funding. But, like our roads, we’re known for poor public transport. Services are often cancelled, delayed or unreliable. If the people up top are to be believed, it’s all because of the suburban sprawl of the country, and the fact that public transport is difficult to traverse here. While there does seem to be some truth to claims like these, it’s impossible to ignore that countries such as Canada find a way around these issues. It seems fair, then, to say that the problems here are, in part, due to a reluctance to spend on public services. Which, again, leaves many wondering why they’re paying such high rates of tax when they don’t benefit from it at all. In many ways, the best thing you can do here is to keep using public transport where you can. The more use the industry receives, the less chance there is that further cuts will follow. While it’s tempting to bite the bullet and buy a car instead, you would be playing straight into the hands of the powers that be if you did. Not to mention that you most definitely wouldn’t see the benefits of your tax paying that way.

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Endeavour Magazine

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