Tax time is that horrible kick in the gut to citizens of the District of Columbia that happens every year. Sure for most of us money is taken out of our paychecks but tax season is the formal time of the year where you look back and see what you earned and you see what the local and federal government take for services they provide. Taxes are something necessary in civil society to pay for goods, services, and infrastructure that we would not pay for out of the benevolence of our own hearts for the common good. We are not anti-tax here in the District but we are, as our founders were, against Taxation Without Representation.
When looking back at my earnings over the last year about 4% of my salary went to Social Security; 8% was general federal income taxes; and about 1% went to Medicare so 13% of my salary went back to the federal government, which as a percent of my income I’m fine with. However, citizens in the 50 States have members of Congress who vote on such things as the federal budget, or the Stimulus Bill, or Social Security reform and Medicare reform. We are fed up with a system of handing over our hard earned dollars without having a say in how that money should be allocated. Yes, we do get to use federal highway funds for our roads or EPA money to clean up our environment and we’ll have Social Security and Medicare (if they’re still around) when we reach the right age but we have no one to suggest or vote on those programs and policies. Additionally, even though the City Council and the Mayor develop and pass balanced budgets they still need to go before Congress for final approval. Again, people not from the District and not elected by District residents have the final say over our budget instead of the Mayor and the City Council.
For those of us in the District tax season is a reminder that our plight is similar to going to the grocery store handing a store employee $100 at the front door and being told “wait here, I come back and give you the groceries I think you need.” The employee then goes and does all your shopping for you as you wait at the door and then they hand you a bag full of groceries that you must take whether you like them or not. What we want in the District is to be able to enter the store of American democracy so we have control over our shopping, so we can spend our money on the programs, policies, and projects we believe in. What we want is something very American: Taxation With Representation.
We’re not anti-tax but we are more similar to the original Tea Partiers than today’s Tea Party. We, like our founders, believe that government derives its power from the consent of the people and we in the District have never given or been allowed to give our consent to or in the US Congress. Our goal is full and equal footing with the rest of America, our goal is Statehood, and tax season is a cruel reminder that while we live in the shadow of the US Capitol, we also are denied the right to take part in the democratic functions that go on inside that building.
I pay local and federal taxes because I believe in the common good. I believe in government, I believe in democracy, I believe that someday soon we’ll wake up in America and see that what’s happening within the borders of the District of Columbia is simply un-American.
Please join us in the movement to form a more perfect union, join the cause for Statehood by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org