Monday, April 15, as most of us are (hopefully) aware, is Tax Day.
More than just the filing deadline for tax returns, Tax Day represents an annual act of civic engagement, when we all unite to invest in the public interest and achieve together what we couldn’t individually. Like voting on Election Day, paying our taxes is a vital expression of democracy, in which we quite literally put our money where our mouth is and provide financial backing to the pursuit of the ideals upon which our government was founded—among others, to “promote the general welfare”.
Our tax dollars enable us to continue striving toward the kind of society we aspire to build—one that lifts up its least fortunate and ensures equality of opportunity for all its citizens. We often see these ideals invoked in the name of ambitious national policy plans, but more often we see them reflected in our communities, where the impact of our tax dollars is visible every day.
When Montanans pay their taxes, they can take pride in doing their part to contribute to improvements to infrastructure, protection of public lands, quality public education, access to affordable health care, and much more.
Whenever we travel, we are walking on sidewalks, driving on roads, and flying in planes kept safely in the air by our tax dollars. Especially in a state as vast as ours, our tax dollars keep us connected to our friends, neighbors, and loved ones.
Our investment in public lands reflects our love for our shared natural heritage and the importance we place in responsible stewardship. Whenever we hunt, fish, hike, climb, raft, or ski, we can be proud of our small role in funding the access to and protection of our forests, rivers, streams, and mountains.
Our investment in public education, from pre-school to the university system, reflects our desire to ensure that every kid has the tools both to succeed in life as individuals and to collectively build a stronger Montana. Each child that learns to read in a public school does so because their community’s tax dollars make it possible.
Our investment in public health reflects our desire to lift each other up in times of hardship. When a person long suffering from a substance use disorder gains access to treatment for the first time in their life through Medicaid, we have all played a small but extraordinary support role in turning a person’s life around.
This Tax Day, we at MBPC are proud to look around and take stock of the innumerable ways that our tax dollars lift up our neighbors and communities. We measure the impact of our individual contributions in the beauty of our public lands, in the children educated in our public schools, and in the stories of our fellow citizens who reclaim their health and their lives with the support of public health programs.
In short, our taxes help to build a better Montana, and for that we are proud to pay.
Happy Tax Day from all of us at MBPC.
MBPC is a nonprofit organization focused on providing credible and timely research and analysis on budget, tax, and economic issues that impact low- and moderate-income Montana families.