Opinion

Video: Home-school parent pays tax collector $7K in singles to protest bill

A man who home-schools his children with his wife in eastern Pennsylvania is so tired of paying school taxes for public schools his family doesn’t use that he showed up at his local tax office last month to pay the $7,000 bill, one dollar bill at a time.

And he made a YouTube video of the event to encourage other taxpayers to start protesting, too.

taxprotest1According to the Lehigh Valley Express-Times, Robert Fernandes, a father of three, said forcing home-school parents to pay taxes for public schools they don’t use is like McDonald’s forcing “vegetarians to pay for their cheeseburger.”

He said he decided to stage the protest to emphasize the price he’s paying for something he doesn’t even want, and for the benefit of other taxpayers who are being forced to do the same.

“I wanted to create a visual. They don’t get to actually … see exactly how much taxes is being stolen from them,” Fernandes said. “And I am using the word ‘stolen’ because I’m not here voluntarily paying this money to anybody. I’m here because I fear for the threat somebody will come and take my house away from me if I don’t pay this.”

Fernandes lives in Forks Township, about a 90-minute drive north of Philadelphia. When the Forks tax collector told him he should take up the protest with the local School Board, rather than her office, he said he wanted to make the point clear. Besides, he brought along two-dozen donuts for the tax-office employees and fellow taxpayers who were tied up by the time-consuming demonstration.

“It needs to be seen — this is $7,143.54 of my hard-earned money,” Fernandes said.  “It’s pretty tough to me to part with this. I can think of better uses for this money than to give it to some service I don’t use.”

In the end, the tax collector’s office wasn’t able to count the money at the scene. Fernandes and the tax collector went to a local bank to have the money counted. Because the bank is private property, video cameras were not allowed inside.

Fernandes, who included impassioned denunciations of the public school system’s monopoly on education dollars in his statements, was making a good point, even in the tiny, 9,000-student Easton Area School District.

Imagine Fernandes’ dollar bill-by-dollar bill protest applied to the bloated mega-districts of New York City, Washington, D.C., or Chicago. Imagine the protest against local school districts nationally for a service home-school parents not only don’t use, but go to considerable trouble to reject.

Now, imagine that money applied to federal taxes, where the Department of Education sops up a $71 billion budget annually (with President Obama, of course, calling for more).

A billion dollars here, a billion dollars there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.

Check out Fernandes’ video here. It’s an education by itself.

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