Story by Sarah Melchert

Taxes are a part of life in America. Almost everyone pays taxes; whether it’s on a purchase or coming out of a paycheck, but where the money goes may be worth the extra costs.

West business teacher Meredith Hayes states that “taxes are paid by taxpayers, so anyone that earns a wage and that money goes to the government either at the federal, state, or local level, and they use that money to provide for the public.”

Hayes said there are five different types of taxes that taxpayers pay: income, payroll, property, sales, and excise taxes.

According to the Missouri Taxpayer Guide, “Federal and state income tax laws require citizens to pay a percentage of their income for the services and programs provided by the government.”

Some taxes, like income, payroll, and sales may be seen more frequently than other. However, there are some instances where the tax is less noticeable.

“Excise taxes are on consumption items like airline tickets, hotel rooms, alcohol, cigarettes, and gasoline. That’s usually the one people don’t know about because it’s included in the cost of the item, where sales tax is an addition to [the cost of the item],” Hayes said.

Taxes may be beneficial because they fund public programs. Hayes said taxes fund things like social security, medicare, and other public services.

“Our income taxes go towards programs like our highway system and just the infrastructure of our country. Local taxes go towards things like libraries, parks and recreation, schools,” Hayes said.

Taxes, besides being used for infrastructure, are even used to support education. “Your public education is funded by taxes,” said Hayes.

According to the Missouri Taxpayer Guide, “The property tax supports local education, police and fire protection, schools, and other local government services. Individuals pay the county or city directly for personal property taxes.”

Almost everyone pays taxes, even students at West. Hayes said that high school students often pay income taxes and sales taxes.

Senior Shayla Smith is a taxpayer. Smith currently works at On the Border, and said she has a tax on the income she makes at work.

Smith said the tax on her income can be troublesome, but she knows where the money is going.

“It kind of sucks because it makes my paychecks smaller, but I know it helps pay for a lot of things. I’m used to taxes so they don’t really make a difference to me. I know they’re going towards good use,” Smith said.