Monday, March 16, 2015

Do the Amish pay taxes?

“I pay school tax and our kinner don’t even go to public school,” is a common gripe among the Amish. “We pay two school taxes, one for public and one for our own one-room schoolhouses and the teachers’ pay.” If you ever want to hear an Amish person talk fast, just ask about taxes. You’ll see how spirited they can get.
The notion that Amish don’t pay taxes is a pet peeve among them. They never want to be accused of mooching off of anyone, paying their fair share. They pay all taxes except social security, and here’s the rub. Our government agreed to them not paying social security because they have a good track record of taking care of their elderly. It’s on religious grounds, but I wonder why other Christians can’t do the same.  

I went to a funeral a month ago for a dear friend who suffered a stroke at 72 and for the next ten years his wife refused to put him in a nursing home, taking care of him herself, along with help from family. This is a bunny trail away from what the Amish pay in taxes, but there are more and more Americans taking care of their elderly. Maybe there needs to be a revision in what we pay into social security if we sign a paper stating we’ll take care of our own.

When I lived in Ellington, NY, people would complain that the Amish don’t pay taxes but get all the benefits: paved roads, bridges, telephone lines to their phone shanties. I believed this at first, but then I asked Amish friends and oh boy do they get fired up. The Amish pay taxes for all infrastructure needs…cough, couch…electric lines they don’t use…but they don’t have to pay for social security.

On this blog I sometimes mention Noah, a young man in this 30’s now who helped remodel our house and practically lived with us for two months. Well, he’s trying to move back to Smicksburg because his land taxes went up in New York.  Yes, the Amish can lose their farms and homes like anyone else if taxes aren't paid.

So, if anyone accuses “those Amish” people of having it so easy, being able to live off the grid because of no taxes, well, you can defend them. I think people are so spitting mad about how much we pay for taxes in America they want to blame someone, and unfortunately, it’s sometimes the Amish.
Fannie's quilt shop in Smicksburg helps make ends meet. Jah, they have a tax bills to pay. 
Amish children walking home from the one-room schoolhouse their parents pay for along with the teacher's salary.
Amish men enjoying the roads free from pot holes, at least for a while, with the help of their tax money.


  1. I didn't realize this was such a belief among people about the Amish until I started really studying the culture. It's so sad that people don't really do their research before they start pointing fingers and blaming. Thank you for this very informative post!

    1. Thanks for leaving a comment Southern Ladye ;) I was guilty of thinking the same 20+ years ago when I first started to live around the Amish, I was shocked at what they said and felt bad. It does make their heads turn. Live and learn,

    2. I am glad to be able to read your blog. I too did not know that the Amish did pay taxes. I love to paint and would like to try the picture of the buggy at the top of your page. Do I have your permission?

    3. Hi MJ
      I'd be honored it you painted a picture inspired by one of my photos. Please feel free to do so and share with us when you're done. Thanks!