It's April 15th, and it's tax season in America.
I've gathered up all my paperwork, calculated my income, and expensed what I can from my business. It looks like I'll owe the government about 15% of the money I brought in last year.
But really, why am I filling out these tax forms at all...
I lived in the United States for about 20 days last year. 5 days in January and about 15 when I came home for Christmas.
Here's a few things I didn't benefit from last year that my tax dollars are going towards.
I didn't use the national highway system.
I didn't get help or a sense of security from the local police force.
I didn't use pubic transportation.
I didn't get government assistance when I went broke in Thailand. (18.17% of my income tax goes to financial assistance funds)
I wasn't protected by the US military. (23.91% of my income tax funds the military)
I didn't use the healthcare system. (27.49% of my income tax funds healthcare programs)
I didn't use any of the American infrastructure whatsoever, but my tax dollars will help pay for these programs.
Even when I was living in the USA I rarely used any of these services, but now that I've been abroad for so long I know that I'm not getting anything for my money.
It seems that the only benefit I get from paying taxes is that I get to keep my passport. (Which I do need in order to travel) I get to say 'I'm a citizen!' and that's about it.
It's Hard To Justify Paying Taxes For Expats
Imagine if Walmart told you that you had to pay them just because they had other customers in a different part of town. Hey, you even get a Walmart card proving you're a Walmartian! 😉
That's kind of what it feels like paying taxes this year.
Somebody else is going to use the highways, somebody else is going to use the public transportation, somebody else might feel safer because of the military and police... but not me.
So, What's fair?
Perhaps taxes could be augmented based on how long you were physically inside the USA, so that I would pay tax for just 20 days out of year I was here. (5% of my normal payment)
What about nomads who travel for multiple years without returning home? Is it fair that they pay any tax at all?
Maybe some people feel patriotic paying taxes and expecting nothing in return. That's not how I feel.
More Americans are becoming digital nomads and spending their days living in Asia, South America, and Europe. Will taxation need to change to accommodate?