A recent letter to the editor of Newsday stated that a couple was tired of paying school taxes and felt that as seniors they deserved a break or at least a reduction. After all our taxes are always too high, even if we pay next to nothing!
I too am a senior and as such I understand the feeling. Like the writer my children have been out of school for quite some time and I pay my tax bill in full when due.
The writer feels he has lost money since no one likes to pay a bill and get nothing in return.
But do we get nothing?
My first and most obvious thought is the return on investment for educating the next generation and the ones after that.
If anyone wishes to know how important a good education is look no further than the Republican primaries and sadly their current front runner.
The second slightly less obvious benefit to paying a fair school tax is the funding of the district’s education budget.
All school districts have basic nuts to crack that allow them to run smoothly. This does not include extracurricular activities that tend to produce a more ‘well rounded’ student body.
If the district does not have enough funding for basic needs they may be forced to pass an austerity budget which cuts out many programs.
This bare bones measure immediately decreases the value of the child’s education and the property values of the homes in the neighborhood since young families generally don't wish to doom their children to a poor education.
As seniors are more likely to be selling their homes in the near future, downsizing or moving into retirement communities in the south I believe this loss of value could easily outweigh the amount of money invested in our children’s education.
And finally a more obscure yet perhaps most important reason to continue paying school taxes, our American Democracy.
Attorneys use the phrase “slippery slope” to signal how small bad decisions lead to catastrophe.
If we pick and choose which taxes to pay and which to ignore because they do not immediately benefit us how long before we are paying none and the community fails?
1. Ever since I bought a Kindle I rarely go to the library so I want that part of my tax bill removed.
2. My neighbors and I all have snow blowers so I don’t feel we should be required to contribute into the town budget for snow removal.
3. And while we’re on this slope I don’t believe we should be fighting so many wars overseas so I want my tax that are earmarked for the military removed from my bill at once!
4. And don’t get me started on the Federal Government funding all the things other States want! Why should I care about Kentucky?
Now back to reality.
I do in fact think our taxes are too high but I believe this to be the result of legislative waste and a tremendous amount of loopholes allowing corporations and those who can most afford to pay their fair share to avoid paying one cent.
When we fix this last item I believe we will all benefit far more than just a slight lowering of our local school tax bill.