Intellectual, spiritual, and patriotic exercise
by Richard Schneider, Professor Emeritus, CPA inactive
There are two things that are certain in life; death and _____. You guessed it, taxes. Most of us spend our lives taking an unhealthy approach to both of them.
Ever since there has been civilized and organized peoples governed by a king, queen, chief, ruler, council, president, etc. there has been a need to provide for the protection and common good of the community and its rulers. An assessment, taxes, were collected from the members of the community, not always in a fair and just manner, but the tax revenue was needed to fund armies, build walls, provide roads and water systems, etc.
We need to take some time to learn about the history of taxation, especially in the United States. We should also have a basic understanding of our current tax laws, what’s taxable and what isn’t. A good place to start with the current law as it pertains to individuals would be the IRS site, IRS.GOV, and read the most recent publication 17. Search for the history of taxation in the United States on the web, you’ll find some informative sites. For an overall prospective read Adam Smith’s the ‘Wealth of Nations’. Every year tax time is an opportunity to assess how much money we’ve earned or received and think about how we spent it. This is part of the treasure we have been entrusted with and have we been good stewards? This is also the time we receive the annual statements from our church, and other chartable organizations we’ve donated to. Even though I may not itemized deductions, the Minnesota tax law, allows for a deduction when charitable contributions exceed $500. Have I shared my income to help others? For me this certainly is a time for a spiritual examination and accounting.
Thinking about taxes and our governments; national, state, county, and city, I may not support or agree with everything they do, but I do pledge allegiance to our flag, I sing the national anthem, and I am a proud citizen of this country. I have this overwhelming feeling of loyalty and obligation to my country and my fellow citizens. Many years ago I was privileged to give time in the reserves and active duty military. Today I have the honor to share part of my treasure to support this wonderful nation. We cannot support a great nation by dropping out, dodging our responsibilities, and seeking loopholes, but by stepping up and saying yes to serve and pay our fair share.
I would like to give a special thank you to Live Well Winona for providing space for our volunteer tax program, and to United Way for their continued support.