Appreciating what tax dollars provide

April 14, 2011

As I arrive home from a morning jog, I have a cold refillable bottle of water drawn straight out of the faucet waiting for me. Preoccupied by my morning routine, I seldom think about the source of the water or its quality. But with so much attention drawn lately to radiation levels accompanying the catastrophe in Japan and the tax filing deadline approaching, I tend to think about these things more often. As I reflect on how fortunate we are to have public services and structures in place to protect us from harm, I can't help but be thankful for public works, such as water quality projects. Absent this important public service, we would all be in danger.

Water quality is just one important example of why taxes matter. It's because of my income taxes, as well as the tax dollars provided by other hardworking people, that the great state of Maryland is able to provide vital funds to important public goods. Those include building and maintaining schools and hospitals, conducting health inspections, protecting our lives and valuables with police and fire departments, providing services to vulnerable Marylanders, and offering economic investment and workforce training to assist those who have lost jobs. These public investments are what makes Maryland a great place to live.

Tax day is the day we pay the bill for these and other things we buy together as a community. So I'd like to thank everyone for going in with me on these expenses, and thanks for the refreshing drink of water this morning.

Branden McLeod, Baltimore

The writer is associate director of the Maryland Budget & Tax Policy Institute, a project of Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations

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