Monday, April 07, 2008

Are you satisfied with what you're getting for your taxes?

So I visited with my accountant today and, well, it wasn't all that pleasant. No offense to my accountant, but I just really don't like tax time. No matter how much I try I never seem to be emotionally prepared for seeing all the numbers.

The biggest number, of course, is the amount of money I've paid in taxes. I wouldn't mind seeing that ridiculously large amount if I felt like it was going toward things I care about.

To be fair, some of the funds are, in my opinion, well invested. I like helping older and low-income individuals pay for health care. I like having roads and I'm a fan of having drinkable water and garbage pickup. I also like public broadcasting, libraries, homeless shelters and a whole bunch of other stuff. To me, these are worthwhile investments.

The problem, though, is that some of the items on my "worthwhile investments" list are on other people's "I can't believe we're spending money on that" list and vis-versa. That's why we have a system of government that gives individual citizens the right to petition for one set of investments and complain about the other.

Essentially, we have an important tool at our disposal to make our opinions heard -- loud and clear -- about how we want our hard earned dollars spent. It's called citizen advocacy. So, if you're feeling down about your taxes, take a moment to look at how those funds are being spent, and then let your elected officials know what's right or wrong with that scenario.

For resources on how tax dollars are spent, check out the National Priorities Project interactive tax chart, where you can enter in the specific amount you paid in taxes and get a chart of how that funding broke down. I think you'll be surprised. I know I was!

No comments: