Proud daughter of a first-gen who paid his taxes
We’re nearing the second anniversary of my father’s death, and my sister Liz reminded me that, on his deathbed, our father, Irving, had said to her: “Please don’t forget to pay my taxes.” Even as he lay dying, he thought about his responsibilities. I’m proud of that.
Our father was a member of what has been called the “greatest generation.” He was brought up in a struggling immigrant family with the strong value that we should do our duty as citizens. Paying taxes is one of those duties and responsibilities. I’ve been a public servant for a good part of my career; for the rest, as a researcher, I benefited from public research funding, and I hope many more benefited from the work I did and continue to do. We don’t have top universities, safe roads and public health infrastructure without tax monies – and if those who have more don’t do their part, it all falls apart. Then, the great society isn’t so great.
On Sunday, NPR played a clip from a song by Irving Berlin, I Paid My Income Tax Today, most famously popularized by Gene Autry, but also performed by Danny Kaye, Bob Dylan and others through the years. Who knew? It turns out that, as an immigrant, Berlin wanted to do the right thing by his adopted country. He wrote the song in January 1942, when citizens were being called upon in many ways to help with the war effort, and assigned the copyright and all royalties to the U.S. Treasury!
I pay my taxes, too, and although we look for legitimate deductions, we always expect our tax bill to be substantially above zero. We wouldn’t have it any other way.