On Tax Day, we held a march in Charlottesville, beginning at City Hall and ending at the Central Library to highlight where our taxes go and the need to rebalance our state and federal tax system so that everyone pays their fair share.
Three speakers kicked off the march by speaking on the indispensable role of tax funding in our everyday lives, the importance of funding education adequately, the need to close corporate tax loopholes and to modernize our rusty, antiquated tax system.
“Today, millions of Americans will do what generations before have done: invest in our country's future. Just as our parents and grandparents paid taxes to build the schools, transportation systems, health clinics and parks we benefit from today, our tax payments this year continue this effective system of forward exchange. Nobody enjoys paying taxes, but my taxes pay for things that are more efficient to provide together—they buy my share in the wellbeing and the future of our country,” said Becky Thomas of the Virginia Organizing Budget and Revenue Committee.
Local resident Janyce Lewis spoke about a typical day in her life and highlighted every time taxes provide a service from the time she wakes up to the time she goes to bed.
“I wake up in the morning and get a glass of water from the kitchen. I put my trashcan at the curb, gets into my car, and stop at a gas station to get fuel before driving to work. One of the traffic lights on my route is not working, so a police officer directs me through the intersection. As I approach my job, I drop a letter in the mailbox outside of my building, and head into work. On my lunch break, I go to the library, where I check out a book to read in the park.
“After dinner, I turn on the TV to watch news coverage of a 3-alarm fire several miles from my house. Thankfully the firefighters were able to get everyone out of the building in time. The fire coverage switches to a story on a local Tea Party event where a gentleman stands at a microphone in the town square and declares that he never gets anything for his taxes. He says he is going to sue the federal government for making him pay taxes.”
Virginia Organizing called on the Virginia General Assembly to fix the state’s “old and rusty” tax structure to give the poor and middle class a break and bring in more revenue to the state. Kate Rosenfield of the Virginia Organizing Budget and Revenue committee noted that in Virginia the richest 1 percent pay only 5.2 percent of their income in state local taxes with Virginia’s poorest 20 percent paying 8.8 percent. “In Virginia, low- and middle-income taxpayers are contributing a greater share of their incomes than the very wealthy to support these activities. It’s time to rebalance this system so that everyone pays an appropriate share,” said Rosenfield.
Becky Thomas went on to quote the father of Capitalism, Adam Smith, that people should contribute taxes in proportion to the income they earn, “under the protection of the state.”
Retired public school teacher Gerry Kruger spoke on what state and federal cuts mean for education and why we must invest in our children’s and grandchildren’s future education. Kruger also dropped off a thank you basket of baked goods at Charlottesville High School.
March attendees noted an extensive list tax payer funded services like the Armed Forces, the Coast Guard, the courts and legal system, the rule of law, personal safety, drinkable water, safe drugs, meat that won’t make us sick, road maintenance, safe neighborhoods, the police, firefighters, Social Security, disaster relief and public education.
The group carried signs saying, “We Thank Taxes For”… “Schools,” “Roads,” “Parks,” “Bridges” and marched through town stopping to deliver baked goods at Parks and Recreation, the police department, the library, social services, tourism bureau, mass transit and more, to thank people who put our tax dollars to work and for the essential services they provide.