how to become a happy taxpayer

It’s April 15th.

The un-holiday.

Tax Day.

Most people’s feelings about taxes range from mild annoyance to white-hot anger, but I believe it’s possible to feel good about paying taxes. I know it’s possible, actually, because I’ve learned to feel good about paying them.

I was watching an old Jim Rohn seminar on YouTube when I first came across the concept of “becoming a happy taxpayer.”

Here’s what taxes are: Taxes are how you care for and feed the goose that lays the golden eggs. Democracy, liberty and freedom. Wouldn’t you want to feed the goose that lays the golden eggs? Somebody says “Well, the goose eats too much.” That’s probably true! I understand that. But see, better a fat goose than no goose. And here’s the truth be known: we all eat too much. Let not one appetite accuse another. — Jim Rohn (slightly paraphrased)

This is one of my favorite ideas of Jim’s because it ties in to so many important ideas: choosing what we focus on, expecting the inevitable, and being grateful for what we have.

Focus on the Benefits, Not the Waste

Let’s not beat around the bush: plenty of tax dollars are wasted. It’s just part of the deal, and while we should work to reduce waste, let’s not let it ruin our day.

And the benefits of paying taxes are pretty incredible, right? Here’s an off-the-top-of-my-head list:

  • Paved roads. I love not having to drive my car in the mud. Driving in the mud is for chumps.
  • Safety and security. You know how crazy Kim Jung Un is, right? Isn’t it awesome that we can mock his stupid haircut instead of fearing him? We can do that because of military strength, paid for by tax dollars.
  • Prisons. Our prison system is far from perfect, but there are really dangerous people out there, and we don’t have to worry about them doing really dangerous things to us or our loved ones.
  • Firefighters. Have you ever thought about how incredible it is that if your house catches on fire, highly-trained people will come put it out for you? For free? And will even go back in for your cat?
  • Help for those who can’t help themselves. “Every man for himself” is barbaric. I’m happy to help support people who have had much harder lives than I have (even if a tiny fraction abuse the system).

Take Pride In Doing Your Part

I like the feeling of driving down a freshly plowed highway the day after a snowstorm and thinking, “I helped pay for this.”

There’s got to be a balance between economic growth and conservation. I’m glad to chip in for a tax break for someone bravely starting a small business (which consumes resources), and I’m also happy that our national parks are being preserved for the next generation.

I’ll help pay for both, because they both benefit me. I like Jimmy Johns, and I like White Sands.

Consider the Alternative

There are plenty of countries with much lower tax rates, but there are trade-offs. You can move to Panama and keep more of your money for yourself, but you’ll experience more frequent water and power outages. You’re more likely to be mugged. The infrastructure won’t be as sound nor as quickly repaired.

These trade-offs might be totally worth it, by the way! It’s a personal decision. As for me and my house, though, I like it right here. We’ve got it good, and I’m happy to pay to keep it that way.