Time to consider my New Year’s Resolutions.

  1. I’ll put aside a little more monthly into my ‘tax reserve account’. (woah, call me an adrenaline junkie).

  2. I will practice Zombie defense.

Some peoples’ resolutions revolve around getting fitter. We could call December overindulgence a Pay-it-Forward plan. I get friendly with a tin of shortbread – the gym benefits in the future from my membership income to fix the pool, hire trainers, etc.

It makes me feel a little better knowing my excess contributes to the local economy. Not to mention flowers, chocolates, groceries and gadgets purchased for my tech-loving hubby.

Whew. I am a one–woman economic engine. (No WONDER I was so tired in December).

Economies depend on spending but also depend on redistribution of some of that wealth to our government (ie, taxes). “Taxes are the price of civilization.” said the writer Oliver Wendell Holmes. As far back as the 4th century BC, economists believed taxes could supply societies with ways to pay for communally beneficial services. Examples: road building, social infrastructure.

Why not just pay for what we need as we go, instead?

Answer – unless your Christmas stocking included a Crystal Ball, you can’t predict the cost of your future needs. They might be zero, but they might be thousands.

When condo boards need funds for unexpected repairs, they create special assessments. I paid $5000 in cold hard cash one year to pick up a reserve shortfall. Our ‘rainy day’ fund had been under-supplied over the years. Ouch.

Greece is a prime (albeit more complex) example of what happens when a country has no ‘condo reserve’. Despite the complexity of the Eurozone issue, it’s easy to understand that without some form of tax revenue, you can’t reasonably expect governments to provide social benefits such as law enforcement. (Well, you COULD hire mercenaries I guess. I suspect they’re a little more expensive than the local Police).

Some wit proclaimed death and taxes to be inevitable. Death, fortunately, only gets experienced once (unless you’re a Zombie). Taxes, like Zombies, keep coming back. Like taxes, the only way to kill a Zombie, is to get ahead. (pun intended)

Some businesses view taxes as a financial hindrance at best, or a merciless highway robber, at worst. So, they opt out. Hold on, you say, you can’t just opt out. If I paid taxes, and you didn’t, doesn’t that mean I am paying for BOTH our social benefits?

Ummmm ……yes.

My love-hate relationship with Mr Taxman started when my first large commission earning was SMALLER than my draw cheque. When I stormed into the controller’s office with all the 22 year-old -newbie indignation I could muster, he calmly explained that earning more meant more taxes.

The hard simple truth of it – those taxes paid into a reserve for snowplows and clean water.

At the hospital to have my 5 year old’s leg assessed for a possible fracture, I saw posted on the ER wall a list of service fees for uninsured visitors. Our two babies births would have cost more than $100,000 in hospital bills. (Yikes.)

Lucky for us, we didn’t have to choose between buying a house with that money, and having babies.

Don’t misunderstand; I don’t like paying taxes any more than the next business owner. I hate that re-assessment notice that arrives (gleefully rubbing its virtual sticky little hands).

Sigh.

But I’m glad for benefits that I might not be able to easily pay for on an as-needed basis. Tax systems aren’t just safety nets for the poor, but a way to ensure that we don’t BECOME poor as a result of emergent needs.

So, I guess I will conquer the Taxman by putting aside a little more to make things easier down the road. A little preparation, as they say, goes a long way.

As for the Zombies, I’ll keep on perfecting my defensive skills, just in case.