Reflections on Tax Day

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Richmond Public Schools is closing two schools because it can’t afford to maintain the buildings.

 

Good thing we can afford to buy more F-35 fighter jets at an average of $137 million per jet….The military wants to increase buying of the Lockheed-made jets in 2014.

 

Sound crazy?

 

Crazy as it may sound, that’s exactly what our elected officials seem to have in mind.

 

From what I heard from Richmond taxpayers this week, though, the taxpaying public has a different set of priorities.

 

I talked with a lot of tax filers on Monday. On Monday, Tax Day, several of us from RPEC and Virginia Organizing went to the post office to share information about where our federal income tax dollars are going. We wanted taxpayers to make a “pocketbook connection” between their tax bill and military spending.

 

As drivers streamed out of the parking lot, having dropped off their tax returns, we offered them a simple flyer that showed how much of our federal discretionary budget goes to military and defense related expenditures compared to things like education, transportation, and the environment. The pie chart showed a large slice (60%) for military, and much tinier slices for other domestic programs. The flyer also pointed out that the cost of two F-35 fighter jets is greater than the entire Richmond public school budget.

 

This information, and our simple message of fiscal responsibility and reprioritization, was very well received. While over the course of the day a tiny handful of people expressed disagreement with our views, which is their right…hundreds upon hundreds of tax filers, the overwhelming majority, expressed appreciation, engagement and concern about the information we shared about our nation’s priorities.

 

Among the comments we heard again and again…

 

“This is what I was afraid was going on!”

“War or education? Education. Definitely education.”

“We need more money for our schools.”

“This is very useful information.”

 

We handed out more than 600 flyers, and about 2,000 or more saw our banners.

 

Here are links to photos and a copy of the flyer:

 

Tax Day Action Photo Gallery

 

Tax Day Handout