The Democracy of It All

This photo of Walter is actually somewhat relevant for this post.

I did something a little wild the other day. At least, wild for me. It’s very relative.

I made a donation in addition to my property tax.

I’ve never done this before. I’ve been paying income and property taxes for at least 15 years now, and I always wave my hand at the part where it asks you to donate to a political party or to a public service. I’m already paying taxes–why would I pay more?

So I almost did that again a few days ago when I got the property tax bill for my Camry. But then I stopped to think for a minute, and I recalled a conversation I had with a friend a while ago about government.

In the conversation, I claimed that I wished that people could choose a few large umbrellas in which their tax dollars could be spent. Defense, education, that sort of thing.

Now, I doubt that could actually work. But even if it were a symbolic gesture, I think it would speak to our government leaders about what’s important to us. Voting with your dollars is more specific than voting for a candidate–after all, does anyone believe in every single stance of the people for whom we voted? I doubt it.

So when I saw at the bottom of my property tax that I was given the chance to vote with my dollar for things that actually affect me–namely, the Forest Park fund and the animal neutering/micro-chipping fund, I decided to put my money where my mouth is and make a few donations. They were very small donations, but in my mind they were somewhat symbolic. In making those donations, I’m telling someone out there that those things are important to me.

Have you ever made a donation on your tax forms? What’s your take on doing so?

8 thoughts on “The Democracy of It All”

  1. It’s interesting that you note this. This year’s personal property tax bill was also an opportunity for me to pause and reflect politically. In year’s past, I’ve always thought, “What is the big deal about taxes? Why is this such a hotbed topic for political figures? I’m just going to pay my taxes, and it won’t make much of a difference who is setting the levels.”

    Last year we bought a new car. Holy crap. The personal property tax was obsence. I felt used. Gregory F.X. Daly should have left a tip on my bedside table. For the first time, I remember thinking, “I can’t believe they can charge me this much just to own something I’m already paying taxes to buy.” If I were writing this post, I would have titled it “Highway Robbery!”

    As you know, I always feel better after violent retribution, so I slept soundly after burning Daly’s west county home to the ground (as well as his parents’ home in Topeka, Kansas and his sister’s entire condo complex in Webster Groves), but nonetheless, I was still shocked by how high the taxes are.

    Reply
    • Trev–I can certainly understand your ire. Two things I didn’t mention in this post were my initial reactions to getting my property tax bill. The first was, “Wait, didn’t I JUST pay this?!” (I hadn’t). The second was, “I love having an old car.”

      So I’m in a very different situation as you–I’m working with an old car that doesn’t cost me much in property taxes. Therefore your actions, despite appearing brash at first glance, are perfectly reasonable.

      Reply
      • In truth, I anticipated the high bill (how else could I start three major fires in three different areas in two states in the same day?), but it nevertheless stoked my ire. Laura and I agreed that this is all the more reason to keep our cars for a long time, move to a state with low taxes, or join the “shadow an illegal immigrant for a day” program to learn their complex ways of skirting the law while still reaping the benefits & apply them to our lives.

        Reply
  2. This was my first year to experience the Gregory F.X. Daly tax-collection thrill ride.
    Step 1. Look at envelope and scoff. Ha! I don’t own property in St Louis!
    Step 2. What?! My car??! Seriously???? BUT I ALREADY OWN IT!!!
    Step 3. Flip over the blue form and see the pie chart that details where the money goes. Realize that I like and/or benefit from all of those things.
    Step 4. Donate extra.
    Step 5. Feel all warm and fuzzy, recasting the experience as though the whole tax bill was just one big voluntary donation to cool stuff in St Louis.

    …Step 6. Warm my hands on the gently smoldering ashes of that arson housefire mysteriously blazing in a nearby neighborhood.

    Reply
    • It seems that #arson is trending on my blog…

      Ha ha…that’s hilarious about your dismay of paying taxes on something you already own. I was equally bewildered my first time. You already remember your first time with Gregory F.X. Daly, they say.

      Reply

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