As we near the end of the tax year, I suspect many of us will turn out thoughts towards preparing accounts for inspection and getting ready to pay the bill. It is a job that will have many of us complaining that we pay too much tax and looking for ways to reduce our payments.
‘Tax’ is a very negative word with connotations dating back to medieval times where characters such as the wicked Sheriff of Nottingham imposed high levels of taxation on the poorer members of society to fund the ambitions and lifestyles of the rich.
Can ‘tax’ be a positive?
I wonder whether we should abolish the terms ‘tax’ and relabel it as a ‘community savings plan’. Would we feel more positive if there was a clearer link between the payments we make and the benefits we receive?
Taxes pay for the structure that supports our society – healthcare, police, education, transport government and much more besides, so perhaps it is terminology and connection that is the problem, not the bill we all face.
If we could change this contribution to a positive instead of a negative, would we be prepared to pay more? We might even be persuaded to top up the ‘savings plan’ when things are going well if a clear link could be made between what we pay in and what benefit we receive.
Have we lost the link between the taxes we pay and the benefits we receive?
Following some treatment in our local hospital, a friend commented that ‘they felt they had had their money’s worth’ from the NHS, which made me wonder if this is how we view our contributions? Are we paying in and not necessarily feeling we’ve had a return on our investment year to year? Surely that’s not the point of the system. We all pay in, and sometimes we benefit. Sometimes we help care for others even if we aren’t directly involved.
In Denmark, there is a much higher rate of taxation, but for this they receive social security, universal healthcare and a universal pension. Meik Wiking, author of ‘The Little Book of Hygge’ says there is ‘wide support for the welfare state. The support stems from an awareness of the fact that the welfare model turns our collective wealth into well-being.
We all benefit from paying our taxes
We all have a part to play in our society. Some of us, such as hospital and healthcare staff, police, teachers and firemen are more obvious, but we all have a hand in funding the essential services we need.
I will be tackling my tax return with a different perspective this year. I will think about my contribution to keeping our society fit and well, protecting us, educating us and keeping our infrastructure working. I will be helping to buy civilisation! This will make the process and bill a much more positive experience. Could this help you too?