We’re All Taxpayers, Too

I was recently reading through some old comments, and one particularly reader told me to “stop being a policy wonk and find a heart.”  (paraphrased.)  I thought about it for a while, trying to figure out what I possibly could have said that would make the reader think that I am a “policy wonk.”  If you’ve read much here at the Paycheck Chronicles, you’ve probably noticed that while I am just a military spouse trying to make ends meet for her family, I absolutely do get upset at when I see Congress or the Department of Defense creating programs that our country can’t afford.

Every family, group, company, or organization has to plan their spending within the confines of their income and assets.  If the family, group, company, or organization spends more than they make or have, then there are negative long-term consequences.  It is true for my family, and yours, and it is true for our country.  And, our country happens to be in a ton of debt.  Therefore, when I hear people complaining that they aren’t allowed to transfer their GI Bill benefits to their sister’s ex-husband’s step-kids, I feel frustrated.  When a someone insists that the child development center on base should offer free child care for everyone, I feel frustrated.  When I look around our base and see large physical projects that are happening just because “the money has to be spent,” I feel frustrated.

These programs aren’t FREE, people.  I’m paying for them, you’re paying for them, and probably all our children are paying for them through our tax dollars.  Yes, most military families aren’t paying a ton of taxes, but that isn’t the actual point.  The point is that we all contribute to our federal government’s budget, and we all should have an interest making sure that money is appropriately spent.  While I don’t think I have any readers who are actually Representatives or Congresspeople, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t support sensible spending.

It might be nice if we lived in a world where no one ever had to pay for anything (but I’m not sure about that), but the fact is that we are all paying for the programs we use.  Asking them to be extended means, in essence, asking for higher taxes or lower spending on another program.  Is that what you want?

I apologize to my many readers for whom this is a silly piece because it is obvious to you.  If only everyone “got it,” I wouldn’t have to write this.

What do you think?

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • guest

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I am tired of people complaining that everything isn’t free simply because their spouse is in the military. Especially at a time that the budget is so bad that they are kicking QUALIFIED soldiers out for things that they did over a decade ago in some cases.

    Hubs good friend had a DUI 11 years ago, he came back from that, went SF and has been a wonderful soldier and leader since then, he got the pink slip WHILE DEPLOYED last summer…11 years after the offending event.

    Meanwhile I’ve berated for organizing an Easter event that charged a dollar per kid…a dollar…strictly to cover the cost of the supplies. Can’t afford child care? Don’t have a kid. Don’t want to pay 10 bucks a month for the on post pool…no one is forcing you to. Want a fancy pants spouse only gym…go sign up for Golds. Want your kid to have a college education..novel idea I know, SAVE FOR IT.

    Now we can’t really talk about personal spending responsibly however when our own government can’t do it (the F-35 anyone), although I think doing away with use it or lose it would be one heck of the way to start. I think people (like our own Congress) go on the immediate defensive when cuts are talked about.

    Sincerely, the family that paid 40k in taxes last year.

  • 4M

    I’ve never paid $40k in taxes, not many military families pay that much, but I am a net federal income tax payer.

    I am a fan of everything costing just a little bit. Just a dollar cuts down on no shows as it makes the person value what they are signing up for, plus we are irrational beings, that sunk cost of a dollar makes people want to get their values worth.

    I’d like to see a return to the intent of the Post 9/11 GI Bill transferability. Originally transferability was to be used to retain critically manned fields, not as a given for anyone who did 6 and promised 4 more. But the services gave it to everyone who asked, and even hooked up some who were leaving the service, because it was the VA and not the Army/Navy/MarineCorps/AirForce who had to foot the bill.

    Why this and not eliminating transferability all together? Because I think the MCRMC retirement reform has the ability to crush retention, and so a shaped benefit like the post 9/11 GI bill could be a great and affordable tool if used properly.

    • guest

      Yea, it’s my job that generates the bulk of our tax bill, I’m in a field where they literally throw buckets of money at you because so few people specialize in it. And doing consulting work means self employment taxes (joy). However, I would consider us extremely fortunate, and I actually don’t have qualms with paying taxes, at all.

      I would however, like more accountability on those taxes and programs. When I go on site and see a 3D printed map that sits on a shelf collecting dust that cost (I kid you not) 38 thousand dollars to print (and it was literally the size of a laptop) simply because they “had” to use up budget money, and it “looks cool” that drives me insane. Almost as insane as people demanding everything for free all the time.

      I agree there should be a small payment for everything, and I think it would cut down on hospital no show’s for families. The soldier should always be free but in discussions with some of the hospital workers last week no shows, and “showed up half an hour late” folks cause the bulk of their time overruns and stress. The doctor told me she’s lucky if she gets 2 people in the same day that show up on time, and we are at one of the largest military hospitals in the US. Even charging a couple of bucks a visit/a prescription could significantly cut down on that waste.

      • 4M

        Nothing like 15.30% FICA tax and the phase out of the child tax credits to open your eyes to tax burdens…

        I was talking to a Derm doc at lunch the other day, she has 4-6 appts on a busy day. This isn’t due to case load, she’s booked solid a month out, but people forget about their appts when they are a month out, don’t show up, and have to book again extending the wait time with phantom appts, and not giving our doctors the workload they need to keep their skills up (this doc take leave for long weekend every month to work a second job just to stay sharp, well I’m sure the doubling of the salary helps too, the military pays its docs peanuts).

        But I think fees for no show/late show were tried in the past and thrown out because people couldn’t afford them (I don’t know about you, but I don’t speed in part cause I can’t afford a speeding ticket (ok, I can technically afford a speeding ticket, but it would cost me money somewhere in my budget and my vacation fund is more pressing than my lead foot)).

        I’ve always forced myself into a position where I value the time of those who are providing services to me for free, be it as simple as a thank you to the gate guards, to a glass of water for the guy who is fixing my air conditioning in my rental home, to inviting the clerk who wrote my POA’s to lunch, to the car seat liner we bought the doctor who spent a full day and much of the night as my family brought our first child into this world. All those things are free, and our capitalist nature puts little value on them because of that, but they are immensely important and to be appreciated, and so just a little charge that could go to MWR for all I care would get many on board to cherish what we have.

        • guest

          In the world where 90% of people have a smart phone there is no excuse to not enter it into a calendar and set up reminders outside of sheer laziness. If they couldn’t afford the no show fees, think about how much of an incentive that would be to NOT miss the appointment.

          I agree we don’t appreciate, as a whole, what these people do for us on a daily basis. You hear people complain about gate guards doing their job and pulling expired IDs or pointing out expired tags. Those that complain about them doing their jobs would also be the first to complain that there was no safety control if those jobs went away.