By: Eric R. Elmore
I’m privileged to work with many talented tax professionals—some are the best minds in tax. Our advisors tackle complex planning for many of the wealthiest families in America. Graduate degrees and credentials acquired over years of practice include CPA, MT, JD, LLM, PFS, CFP, and MBA. However, when we asked children at Philadelphia’s Mighty Writers to give us their interpretations of taxes, their answers reflected a surprisingly good understanding of the subject, despite their lack of financial or legal education. Before we give you their responses, a little on Mighty Writers and how The Tax Warriors® became a big fan.
Mighty Writers is a writing academy for children in Philadelphia and Camden. Led by Executive Director Tim Whitaker, a former Philadelphia school teacher and writer, the organization focuses on improving the writing skills of children through their teen years. And, what a job it does! Last year, Drucker & Scaccetti contributed to the Mighty Writers and got to know Tim and the great work of the instructors. Mighty Writers helps kids think and write with clarity and they help kids appreciate and love the written word.
While touring the facility recently, an idea popped into my head: have the kids write about taxes. Several kids, ages 9-14, shared with us their thoughts. Here are a few excerpts from their essays:
“Everyone pays taxes because it’s a systematic way of paying back the government to fund schools, banks, etc. Those who make more money pay a higher percentage of their income than those with lower incomes.” – Elijah J. Brown, Age 14
“I think taxes are necessary in order for society to function…my question is why aren’t the public schools improving…and why is the city not fixing potholes with the tax money? – Saige Anderson, Age 14
“But I also think it’s [taxes] unfair because some families cannot afford to pay their taxes.” – Valeria Martinez, Age 11
“I think taxes are unfair and fair at the same time. We need taxes to pay teachers, fire departments and trash collectors. If taxes increase, people lose money from their paychecks and can’t afford to pay their bills.” – Nudia Reyes Vasquez, Age 11
“Citizens pay the taxes and they have to do it to help the government pay for stuff. If we don’t pay taxes, we get in trouble. I think you get arrested if you don’t pay.” Makayla Mignake, Age 13
“I think taxes are OK. But I think they should be lower. Some people go bankrupt and are left homeless because it’s hard to keep up paying all the different types of taxes.” Brandon Munoz, Age 9
“My parents pay taxes and my siblings help, but I can’t because I am too young. Taxes are not fair because people who pay bills, like my parents, are stressed by them.” Tina Huynh Tran, Age 9
“I think taxes are fair as long as they don’t get super high. I think it is fair that the amount you pay depends on how much your house costs and how much you make.” – Lydia Heatwole, Age 9
The concept of taxes is simple: collect money from citizens to pay for things society needs. The Mighty Writers have captured the essence of taxation’s intended simplicity. It’s when our government and special interests devise ways to apply the code, and deciding to whom it applies and why, that things can get complicated and, sometimes, unfair.
We’d like to thank Mr. Whitaker, Naomi Levecchia and the entire team at Mighty Writers for their hard work and volunteer time in making our children better writers. You can learn more about them at www.mightywriters.org and see for yourself why The Tax Warriors® at Drucker & Scaccetti supported them. It’s a worthwhile cause and a positive investment in our city’s youth.
*The children in this blog post and in the photograph have signed waivers with Mighty Writers to have their work published and attributed to them as authors and to have their photos used to promote the organization.