Monday, May 04, 2009

The Tax Lady Talks Tea Parties

Over the last few weeks there has been a lot of discussion of the tax day protests, termed “Tea Parties.” Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, I think we can all be proud that our fellow citizens are taking an interest in government, and how their taxes are spent. The fastest route to government corruption is a disinterested constituency. By taking an interest and making our needs known, we are demanding accountability from our elected officials.

While the overall goal of these tea parties, and whether there will be any long reaching effects, is up for debate, we can all use this as a message to keep a close eye on government. These tea parties were held by libertarians and conservatives, yet most admitted that the problems did not start with President Obama, and that our fiscal policy has been on the wrong track for quite some time. This kind of rallying, with some hint of historical perspective, is a good sign.

And while the Boston Tea Party protested taxation without representation (American colonists having to pay British taxes, yet not having say in British government), this year’s protests focused on our democratically elected officials’ policies. What that says about our bicameral government is interesting to say the least. Under the eight years of Bush’s presidency, Democrats and liberals commented “not my president”. While we can argue all day that both Bush and Obama were elected, it illustrates that whoever is in charge, the other party feels disenfranchised.

Another interesting note was the tea parties’ distinction from the Republican Party. Leader of the GOP, Michael Steele, asked to speak at one of the protests and was told he could attend, but would not be allowed to speak. This political snub speaks to the fact that there is a marked division within the party. Again, how this affects future GOP candidates and platforms remains to be seen.

And one more note, there was a separate tea party protest on tax day. Join the Impact MA threw IRS form 1040s into Boston Harbor, protesting unequal treatment by the IRS of legally married same-sex couples. Several states, including Massachusetts and Iowa, have legalized same-sex marriage, which entitles those couples to file joint tax returns (which can be financially beneficial) in their state. However, the federal government has not recognized those marriages and the IRS does not allow those married couples to file jointly.

I think these protests signal a higher consciousness of government spending and taxation policy. And as you all know, I am a big proponent of people getting involved and informed on their taxes.

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