Friday, March 17, 2017

Picking Up the Slack

When I began to pay taxes long ago, I made a conscious decision that I would not count charitable donations as a deduction.  I argued with my father about this for over a decade, and he never convinced me.

My reasoning is that I pay taxes in my country in order to sustain the basic services that make up our social safety net and give people the opportunity to improve their lives: food stamps, education, housing assistance, medical care, and similar programs.  I have never in my life begrudged that my tax dollars go to those who have less than I do, not even when I barely had enough.  I don't set up litmus tests of who's 'worthy' of help and who's not; people who need help are worthy of help.  If we are to be a human and marginally civilized society, these are the things we need to pay for.  It's the base cost of being a decent human being.

In addition to paying taxes, I donate to charities that I think help the world, both internationally and domestically.  I give what I can, when I can, because I was raised to believe that there's always someone who can benefit from sharing what you have.  Some of these charities also receive taxpayer funding.

Why, I asked myself, would I rob Peter to pay Paul by decreasing my taxes based on my donations?  Why would I take tax money away from programs that benefit charities based on my own donations to those very same charities?

I'm not naive; I know that my taxes also go to pay for a number of things I find reprehensible: foreign wars, massive weapons buildup, an abusive prison system, the unequal enforcement of drug policy, corporate welfare for multinational conglomerates, among other things.  As I can't dictate which programs my tax dollars go to, I lobby against what I oppose while still paying for what I believe in, because the two are inextricably linked.

Until now.  

The current White House administration believes in cutting its support for all those things I donate to: food for the elderly, school lunches, welfare programs, environmental protections, the arts, public education, humanitarian aid to other countries, and healthcare for the sick and needy.  They want to cut out all the things that made me willing to pay my taxes each year, and increase spending on that which I begrudge.

So, thanks for that, Republicans.  You've finally managed to do what my father spent more than ten years unsuccessfully trying to accomplish.  I'll be tracking every charitable penny, accepting every donation receipt, and cutting down next year's taxes as much as humanly possible by forcing you to credit me for the money I spend doing your job.

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