It all started with Hamilton…
The other night I overhead my husband talking to our daughter as she was going to bed, and they were talking about…tax. Yes, tax!
Fifteen minutes beforehand, we had been jumping around the lounge room to some tracks from Hamilton the Musical. (I’m just putting it out there – if you want to answer some difficult questions, play Hamilton to your kids. But I digress.)
I know almost nothing about American history, but Mr WTF is a former history teacher. Somehow Miss Five and Mr WTF had come around to the topic of the Boston Tea Party – and Mr WTF navigated the conversation about blowing up ships and things.
‘Papa, why did they blow up the ships?’ There was a brief pause.
‘Because they didn’t want to pay the tax,’ he said.
Here be dragons
‘What’s a tax, Papa?’ Another pause – longer this time. The conversation had turned quickly, and I think he would have preferred to explain how people get babies. Meanwhile, I was just around the corner listening in and wondering how he’d do it.
Mr WTF rallied bravely: ‘Well, a part of everything that Mamma and Papa earns is paid to the government.’
At this point, I felt my bile rising – thinking of the latest nightmare interactions we had just had with said government. I thought of the current ridiculous political situation, and the cack-handed handling of world events. The flip-flopping policies and the cronyism we could see in [insert your country of choice here].
In an effort to calm down, I told myself to think happy thoughts.
Meanwhile, the conversation in the next room continued.
‘Why do you do that? Why do you pay things to the gummument?’
Feeling that it was time to stick my nose in to the conversation and demonstrate my parenting genius, I said: ‘Because they use that money to build hospitals, and schools and libraries and other things that we all need and use.’ Yes, well done me. Explaining common goods and tax, and thinking happy thoughts. Happy thoughts…
Miss Five then piped up and said: ‘Like…sharing?’. ‘Yes, darling. It’s like a sharing system.’
‘Oh,’ she said. ‘That’s nice that adults share too.’
Being taught how to share, again
Mr WTF glanced at me with a look that said: That’s us told. Even a five year-old can understand the concept of a social contract and common goods, without knowing what it actually means. And she expected us to participate, without a second thought.
So I considered it: somewhere between the age of 5 and 50 we all seem to lose the capacity to share. The older I get, the less I want to accept that paying my taxes is something that we all should do – willingly. Instead, I try to (unsuccessfully) avoid thinking about it.
I know I am not the only one who dislikes the idea of paying taxes. Maybe its distrust of the government, or a feeling of unfairness. Maybe it’s the difficulty in structuring a fair and efficient tax system. But at the end of the day, kids can share – even when it doesn’t seem fair – so why not us?
Tax – it’s sharing for adults.
If the idea of talking about money to your loved ones fills you with dread, book in for a free call with me about what you can do.
Like this article? Forward it to a friend!