Earlier today I did something old fashioned, I wrote a “check” for my estimated taxes for both the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and for the Kansas Revenue Service. It happens four times a year. Earlier, I sent money to pay for the taxes I still owed to the federal government and to the state. Usually I am pretty good at estimating and in the last few years received a refund. As many know, the tax schedule changed for 2013 and more taxes were owed and my husband and I owed more than we had anticipated.
If you are hoping to read a negative post about how awful taxes are and how much we give to the government, you might as well stop reading now. Every tax check I write or send I say a prayer of thanks that I can be part of something bigger than myself. I am grateful that I can join those who have gone before me to take care of those less fortunate through food, housing, and medical care. I am grateful for police officers, fire fighters, ambulance, roads, and all other services provided for me by the taxes I pay.
You see, I may not be who you think I am. I am in many ways one of the faces of welfare you never see. When my mother was forty years old, no training, could not drive a car, had four children and a husband (my father) who was not providing, she called upon my grandparents to pick us up and take us someplace safe. I was young, most of what was happening did not become clear until I was much older. All I knew at the time was that my grandparents, put my mother and her four children in a station wagon with whatever else could fit and moved us from Bloomington, Minnesota to Wichita, Kansas.
There, my seventy year old grandparents lived with their only daughter, their only child and four grandchildren for the next five years as my mother learned to drive and go back to school. We were on a medical card, what was then Aid to Dependent Children and depended on other people to pay their property taxes so we could attend school and pay their other taxes so we had medical care and money to pay the bills.
I learned a great deal from my grandparents about loss leaders, coupon cutting and making do. I wore some of the worst clothes and the ugliest glasses because the medical card would only allow a choice of one or two frames and most were out dated. We went to an old fashioned dentist who gave free service, but didn’t believe in novocaine to deaden the gums before filling cavities.
I share this not so that people can feel sorry for me, but because sometimes people need a face to put with words like “welfare mom” and “welfare kids.” Sometimes I need something more than just words to understand why I do what I do. I know that not all our tax dollars do what they should do, there are things I wouldn’t support if I had choice and I am not thrilled with the way my tax dollars are spent. What I do know, is that the rhetoric around the poor, the hungry, the unemployed and those on the bottom get pretty personal for me. As one who has been on the receiving end, I am grateful for a job and a home and an opportunity to provide for those with less, just like someone provided for me all those years ago.
I found this sign on facebook two years ago….I think it puts in perspective some of what I feel:
On this Tuesday of Holy Week and on tax day, I am more aware of how Jesus challenged his followers to pay attention to those who need the most. He fed the hungry, healed the sick and offered hope to those who needed it. Taxes is one small way I can participate in helping those less fortunate. There are many others of course, but as one who has been helped, I am truly thankful that I can return the favor.
I remain, Graced to Serve.