How to bear writing a big, fat check to the IRS

It can be painful to drain a bank account to pay taxes, but the money's going to a good cause

Ann Hermes / Staff / File
An IRS employee enters the office in the JFK Federal Building in Boston on March 24, 2011. Even if you owe the government a large sum of money, try to remember where the money is going.

I wrote the largest check I’ve ever written to the IRS this weekend (I can’t even say how much–it’s so painful), but it was understandable given it was related to my withdrawal of my retirement savings to pay my legal and medical bills over the past year. So I was devastated to see my bank account wiped out, but on the other hand still believe that my taxes pay for good things–and that what goes around, comes around.

I still believe in the vision of government that President Obama suggested in his speech the other day. I have been pretty darn lucky in my lifetime so far, even as hard as the past couple years have been as I’ve gone through a divorce. I got a good, public-school education and went all the way to getting my Ph.D., and I’ve never had a hard time finding work. I have four beautiful kids who have also benefited from public schools and government-subsidized, employer-provided health care and who are very smart and healthy as a result. And I know that most families struggle much, much more than I do, and that (as President Obama reminded us) “there but for the grace of God go I.” I don’t consider the taxes I pay to be none of the government’s business. I know that I’m paying my dues for government being there for me. I know that if it turns out I am not so blessed in the future, there will be a safety net there for me and my kids.

So I still feel the way about taxes as I did five years ago when I wrote this piece for the Boston Globe. There are still lots of good reasons for taxes and why we shouldn’t begrudge paying them today.

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