Man, I love shopping at Target. Mostly, it’s because despite being knee-deep into my 30s, I always love to look at the toys even if my kids aren’t with me. (They don’t like to look at the same toys as me anyway.) But, there’s another reason I prefer making a Target run on my way home as opposed to Walmart; every purchase I make there helps support a Minnesota company. That same Minnesota company pays its business taxes to the state of Minnesota, growing the tax base of our state.
I also like to shop locally at small businesses for the same reason. Sure, a lot of people like to shop local because they’re supporting local businesses, which is a fine reason, but I guess I’m a tad more selfish. See, when I shop at a locally owned business, I know that business is paying taxes to help pay for things in my community. It turns out, businesses pay a variety of different taxes that go to a variety of community needs.
Let’s play follow the money for a moment. When I stop in at Sliced on College Avenue for my weekly pizza lunch, I give them money in exchange for goods or services (in this case, delicious pizza). From that purchase, the company divides the funds up to pay for the different things a company needs to exist, such as supplies, a building, advertising and employees. Besides that, though, every company needs to pay its corporate taxes on at least a state and federal level. At a federal level, we all know those funds are used in a variety of places throughout the country, but at a state level, it gets a bit more localized. Then we get to the municipal level, which also collects corporate taxes and that’s where we should really pay attention.
Municipal taxes help pay for a wide variety of things. Sure, there’s the obvious things like roads (or underpasses), but even the less obvious things such as the municipal employees who answer phones, or even the basic equipment needed to run the city office. Even if you think about a local police force funded by taxes, you often stop at thinking about the officers themselves. In truth, a police force has many people working as support staff that never are thought of.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I know I like having my job, because it allows me to buy things like food, shelter and Legos (you know, the essentials). All these other city employees also like having their jobs too, I bet. So what, you probably ask. All these clerks and secretaries and whatnot, that’s just big government! But, those big-government jobs in your small town, paid for in part by the corporate taxes from the small businesses you shop at, are jobs held by people who shop at local businesses that pay corporate taxes to pay for…well, I think you get the gist of this run-on sentence.
I haven’t even mentioned sales tax, which just adds more to this.
In the end, a small town lives with small businesses and dies without them. Without the funds generated by the tax base, a town cannot provide any services unless they start massively raising property taxes. While I know some consider a world without public services to be a Libertarian Utopia, I tend to be somewhere on the other side, where I like that my local government is able to provide a variety of services, such as snow removal, emergency services and even other human services. The more that tax base grows (thanks to local business growth), the more services can be provided to all of us. I think even the most curmudgeonly of us can appreciate the parks, civic centers or even pools and splash pads only a few months away from opening, that wouldn’t exist without local businesses.
The next time you pop in to Cornerstone Buffet, remember not only are you getting a great meal, you’re helping your town thrive. To paraphrase Meghan Trainor: “I’m all about the base, ‘bout the base, shop local.”