I have a friend who begins to get excited at this time of year. It’s because Income Tax time is drawing near. There’s a sparkle in her eye and lightness to her step as she anticipates the forms and the figures, the columns and the calculations. It really is an activity she enjoys doing.
I do not share Jennifer’s love for juggling numbers, but her giggle of glee as she organizes her work space makes me chuckle. I do like to have my taxes calculated carefully and accurately. I do not want to pay more than what is due, but for me it is a necessary chore. It is niggling to have to give to the government.
Last year, in early August, a massive explosion in Beirut killed at least 204 people, injured 7,500, and left about 300,000 homeless. As a result of a huge public outcry and street demonstrations the government of Lebanon resigned a few days later; the country was without a government until January this year.
This catastrophe could have been averted if good government had passed safety legislation and employed staff to enforce regulations. In Canada many potential disasters are averted because our government takes measures to protect the well-being of all citizens.
That explosion was one of the straws that broke the camel’s back. Both income tax and unemployment rates are considerably higher in Lebanon than in Canada. The Lebanese pound lost 80% of its value in less than a year. ( Just imagine paying $500 at the grocery store for $100 worth of food!) Families and businesses are struggling to find adequate internet connections, safe drinking water, and health care.
Large numbers of refugees who have fled fighting in Syria and the pandemic are two added pressures upon the limited resources of a small country.
One priest has opened his church building for over thirty volunteer medical doctors who serve on rotation, charging only about $5 per visit, or at no charge for those who cannot afford even this amount. Some Lebanese people are looking beyond their own needs and wants to benefit the society they live in.
Each faction of Lebanese society was represented in the government but each was fighting for the greatest share of limited resources. The Lebanese government was unable to cope; the Prime minister and his cabinet submitted their resignations.
Governments in Canada use my tax contributions to provide me with competent care when my child is born, traffic lights to mitigate road rage, a fire truck outside my house if my home is on fire, free surgery to rid my body of a cancerous growth, and a pension in my senior years. I do not have the resources as an individual to provide for all my needs. I need help with some things and I trust my government to do their best on my behalf and to consider the needs of all our population.
Following advice given by Jesus, Paul says to the Christians in Rome: “This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. (Romans 13:6 & 7, NIV) Paul wrote this at a time when the Roman government was persecuting Christians for their faith.
I suppose I had better think about getting that Income Tax return completed. I am not like Jennifer; I am not enthusiastic, but I do like the benefits.
by Andrea Kidd