I was having a conversation with an old friend of mine on Facebook the other day, when I realized that one of the prevailing attitudes of many Republicans and other unaffiliated voters who believe that the poor, especially those of us who are currently “living off Uncle Sam” aren’t “pulling their weight” comes from a misplaced belief that the poor are actually getting a free ride and are not paying taxes. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
In an effort to bring more knowledge and empathy to folks on all sides, I’d like to take a moment to show just how much the poor actually do pay in taxes, by honestly taking you through how often I pay taxes. I know that I am an important part of America, small as I am. And even though there are deluded folks who believe I would be doing our country a service by ending my life and no longer being a “financial leech on society,” I believe that I can prove that the poor are not parasites, but rather are symbiotes.
I know that I’ve written previously about how it’s damn near impossible to live off of $683 a month, (It was $785, but now they’ve taken out money for my Medicare premium.) and I’m sure I covered that I still have to pay for my prescription drugs out of that money as well and still be able to eat.
Every time that I purchase something with that money, I will be paying CA sales tax of 9.5%. I’m not complaining about that – I chose to live here. But right there, $65 of the money given to me by the federal government to support my ability to stay alive is given directly to CA’s state government.
That means, as far as my purchasing power goes, I actually only have $618 to spend. When I go to the store to purchase goods, I’m also paying federal taxes. There are federal import taxes and subsidies that have been built into the prices of goods. Stores have been artificially raising the prices of goods to cover their Federal import taxes for some time – and this affects everything from the cost of candy bars to computers. So I’m paying extra back to the federal government for my food (and, frankly, everything else) too.
But forget about EATING. Forget about STUFF. Let’s just LIVE. It’s important to me to have electricity, gas, running water, garbage pick-up, etc… so I pay my utilities. Oh my goodness! What is this??? You guessed it! More federal taxes! And on my telephone bill? YEP! More taxes. Internet bill? No question. Federal taxes. Every time I pay for a necessary utility: electricity, gas, or communication, I am paying the federal government something back.
Those of us who are poor are more likely to be the ones paying for lottery tickets in the hopes of hitting it big, and so we pay the taxes on that. They pay the “sin” taxes on cigarettes and alcohol trying to stave off depression. And those of us lucky enough to own cars and houses, even if we’re currently unemployed, still have to pay our property taxes.
Now, don’t misunderstand me: I am not complaining about paying taxes. I love America. I understand that if we all do our part, things tend to work pretty well.
But people need to get the crazy idea out of their fool heads that people on Federal support programs do not pay taxes. We do. And we have more than “a little skin” in the game. We put most of our skin in the game. I only have a small amount money to purchase the basic necessities of life, and with every purchase, I am giving that money, in a heavy percentage, back to the government.
So why won’t the people who are making the most money in our country show even a modicum of the patriotism that we do every day?