Reply
Thread Tools Display Modes
#1
Old 08-05-2005, 07:56 AM
Member
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Southern Pennsylvania
Posts: 21,599
Do the Amish pay taxes?

While driving to the hospital last night my Mom reminded me of one of Dad's firm beliefs and pet peeves: The Amish don't pay taxes. Dad would go nuts because they were using the roads, but never paid taxes. I am skeptical, can anyone give me the Straight Dope?
#2
Old 08-05-2005, 08:00 AM
Domo Arigato Mister Moderato
Moderator
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: On the run with Kilroy
Posts: 21,279
More Amish info than you can shake a non-electric stick at.

In short, yes, they do. But some (self-employed) don't pay SS taxes. Neither do they collect SS benefits or, according to this site unemployment or welfare benefits should they be eligible.
#3
Old 08-05-2005, 08:02 AM
Guest
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Posts: 1,457
Come on, was this so hard?
The first 5 links should be useful.
#4
Old 08-05-2005, 08:19 AM
Member
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Southern Pennsylvania
Posts: 21,599
Quote:
Originally Posted by Go You Big Red Fire Engine
Come on, was this so hard?
The first 5 links should be useful.
Ah, but then, how would I have the chance to interact with such a sparkling personality as yourself?
#5
Old 08-05-2005, 11:18 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 827
Quote:
Originally Posted by Khadaji
While driving to the hospital last night my Mom reminded me of one of Dad's firm beliefs and pet peeves: The Amish don't pay taxes. Dad would go nuts because they were using the roads, but never paid taxes. I am skeptical, can anyone give me the Straight Dope?
(bolding mine) Maybe he was just referring to gasoline taxes (which are generally used to contribute to road upkeep)? In that case, then I suppose the Amish don't pay those particular taxes.
#6
Old 08-05-2005, 11:29 AM
Member
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: The Zen Arcade
Posts: 8,292
Quote:
Originally Posted by sciguy
gasoline taxes (which are generally used to contribute to road upkeep)
This is actually the heart of the complaint in Amish and Mennonite areas. The horse and buggies do more to damage the roads than cars do.
#7
Old 08-05-2005, 11:32 AM
Guest
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Voting anti-obamanation
Posts: 10,300
Quote:
Originally Posted by sciguy
(bolding mine) Maybe he was just referring to gasoline taxes (which are generally used to contribute to road upkeep)? In that case, then I suppose the Amish don't pay those particular taxes.
No the Amish don't pay gasoline taxes, but use the roads.
A couple with eight children derives much more "use" from the school system while paying the same taxes as a childless couple. Not everything is fair and equitable.
__________________
Crows. Keeping our highways clear of roadkill for over 80 years
#8
Old 08-05-2005, 12:37 PM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Akron, OH
Posts: 5,484
Quote:
Originally Posted by danceswithcats
No the Amish don't pay gasoline taxes, but use the roads.
A couple with eight children derives much more "use" from the school system while paying the same taxes as a childless couple. Not everything is fair and equitable.
Can you imagine the unholy terror the populace would raise if parents were taxed directly based on the additional public expenditures caused by said children?
Wow. As a childless middle-income person, I think it's a grand idea, but that measure wouldn't go over anywhere.
The counter-argument to your "school system" observation in Non-Amish application is probably that children today become taxpayers later. Kids are kinda' like society's capital investments for later.
#9
Old 08-05-2005, 01:44 PM
Guest
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: San Jose, CA
Posts: 1,342
[can't resist hijack][my excuse being the OP seems to be answered] I'm childless but strongly take the position that educating the young is good for the whole society, definitely including myself.

Do I want to become an old lady in a society where there are a lot of 17-year-old males with no future? or females either?

And I just read that Toyota decided recently to build a plant in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada, even though both Mississippi and Alabama offered double the subsidy: because Nissan and Honda had found the workforce in the US South to be often untrained and illiterate.

(FYI, source was News of the Weird, so it may be that some boring facts were omitted from this information.)
#10
Old 08-05-2005, 03:20 PM
lno lno is offline
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: In the state of denial
Posts: 4,836
Quote:
Originally Posted by MaryEFoo
And I just read that Toyota decided recently to build a plant in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada, even though both Mississippi and Alabama offered double the subsidy: because Nissan and Honda had found the workforce in the US South to be often untrained and illiterate.

(FYI, source was News of the Weird, so it may be that some boring facts were omitted from this information.)
Well, kind of. A Canadian auto union representative (Gerry Fedchun) made those claims. Toyota and Honda both said hey, not true. It's likely that the News of the Weird blurb came out before the automakers' rebuttal.
#11
Old 08-06-2005, 10:40 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Chicago
Posts: 1,640
Quote:
Originally Posted by MaryEFoo
[can't resist hijack][my excuse being the OP seems to be answered] I'm childless but strongly take the position that educating the young is good for the whole society, definitely including myself.
In economics, this is referred to as an externality. Education is an example of a positive externality--there are positive effects of having an educated populace than what can be simply boiled down to dollars and cents. Thus, most governments subsidize education to encourage more of it.

There are negative externalities, too. The most common example is pollution. Most governments tax or penalize heavy polluters, to recoup the costs of cleaning up the mess.
#12
Old 08-06-2005, 11:22 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Southeast Michigan, USA
Posts: 10,559
Quote:
Originally Posted by MaryEFoo
And I just read that Toyota decided recently to build a plant in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada[.]
Infrastructure more than likely. The mightly 401 goes right through there. They already have a plant in nearby Cambridge. They already have a joint venture plant with GM close to Woodstock or maybe right in Woodstock. There's a Ford plant nearby in St. Thomas. Seems like a logical place to put yet another new plant.
#13
Old 08-06-2005, 11:25 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Saskaboom
Posts: 8,977
There's the whole medical benefits issue, too.
#14
Old 08-08-2005, 02:16 AM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Posts: 14,225
Quote:
Originally Posted by NurseCarmen
The horse and buggies do more to damage the roads than cars do.
I'd like to see a cite on that. Because, frankly, I find it real hard to believe.

My mother has been driving our horses & buggies on our driveway & field paths for about 60 years now, and I've never noticed any damage to them. And they are not built nearly as well as most public roads.

I've seen previous studies that indicated that the major damage to roads was from the weight of vehicles, especially overweight ones that exceed the road's designed weight limit. (Which is why they have those weight stations along highways near state borders.)

I can't imagine any horse & buggy being near the weight limit of any public road. Seems more likely that the source of this is an anti-amish bigotry, like your Dad's original belief that the Amish "don't pay taxes".
#15
Old 08-08-2005, 02:36 AM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Capitol Wasteland
Posts: 5,531
Well, the horse shit may not damage the road surface but it's at least a nuisance. Also, wagon wheels are narrower than tires, so a loaded wagon that weighed the same as a car would exert greater pressure on the road surface. A passenger buggy wouldn't approach the weight of a car, but a wagon full of lumber or wine barrels would if it were big enough. I don't know if that would be sufficient to damage the road surface though.
#16
Old 08-08-2005, 07:22 AM
Straight Dope Science Advisory Board
Join Date: Feb 1999
Location: Beijing, China
Posts: 21,722
ISTR seeing "offal catchers" strung behind horses drawing buggies.
#17
Old 08-08-2005, 07:38 AM
Straight Dope Science Advisory Board
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Between the Moon and NYC
Posts: 13,023
I've never seen an "offal catcher" behind any horse I've gotten stuck behind, and I live in the middle of Amish country. I have seen fresh road apples, which is a treat in the middle of a July heat wave. It's a rare day when I don't see a horse and buggy.

Whatever damage they cause to the roads, they are a hazard. I often drive US-11, which has zones where the limit is 50 mph, and which only drops to 35 or so once you get to Shippensburg. I've been doing the limit in one of these 50-mph zones only to find myself having to slam the brakes because there's a buggy doing 15 up ahead. Because they're in the right half of the right-hand lane, and because they're smaller, they're harder to see. There have been accidents where motorists have hit horses and buggies. And because they're black and only required to have what are essentially wheel-powered bicycle reflector lights, they're flat out dangerous at night. I got into a near-collision with a buggy one rainy night, because the reflector lights were impossible to see under those conditions.

Lest anyone think me anti-Amish, I'm not. I'm just pointing out that some complaints about Amish on the road have nothing to do with wear and tear on the road.

Robin
#18
Old 08-08-2005, 08:10 AM
Straight Dope Science Advisory Board
Join Date: Feb 1999
Location: Beijing, China
Posts: 21,722
I'm not being flippant here, but this really sounds to me like the same complaints about bicycles on the road.
#19
Old 08-08-2005, 10:37 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Chicago Il
Posts: 9,684
Quote:
Originally Posted by Monty
I'm not being flippant here, but this really sounds to me like the same complaints about bicycles on the road.
True but the same dangers apply to bicycles also. Many roads fittingly prohibit the use of bicycles because of the dangers they represent to both those on the bikes and the cars on the road.

It wasnít stated in MsRobyns post, but Iíll assume the if the buggies were lawfully using the roads in question.
  • If thatís the case then the community should come up with some kind of plan to reduce the danger of this situation. I may be naÔve, but I believe a plan acceptable to both sides could be reached.
  • If not, then the buggy owners are obliged to obey the local laws.
#20
Old 08-08-2005, 10:41 AM
Straight Dope Science Advisory Board
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Between the Moon and NYC
Posts: 13,023
Quote:
Originally Posted by Monty
I'm not being flippant here, but this really sounds to me like the same complaints about bicycles on the road.
To some extent, yes.

In Central PA, where I live (and jayjay and danceswithcats can verify), rural roads are often narrow, two-lane affairs with no sidewalks and narrow shoulders. Moreover, the speed limits tend to be fairly high.

In fact, cyclists have the advantage, because a bike is fairly maneuverable and can get off the road and onto the shoulder quickly. A horse-and-buggy rig isn't so maneuverable and can't get off the road completely. To their credit, they encourage motorists to pass them, and the police turn a blind eye to passing even in a no-passing zone, unless it would be dangerous to do so, like passing on a blind curve.

Basically, it comes down to this. Large motorized vehicles facing smaller, non-motorized vehicle. Doesn't matter if it's a bike, a horse and buggy, or a rickshaw.

Robin
#21
Old 08-08-2005, 10:44 AM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: New England, USA
Posts: 1,530
Cross post (and slightly disgusting...)

What do you call an Amish with his hand up a horse's rear-end?









A mechanic!
#22
Old 08-08-2005, 11:02 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Lost
Posts: 331
I don't know much about how traffic laws work in various states, but I seem to recall hearing about people having been pulled over for driving too slow. If the Amish (or whoever) are allowed to drive on a road with a 50mph speed limit, shouldn't they at least be expected to adhere to the same safety standards as everyone else (ie travelling at an appropriate speed and having appropriate lights for safety reasons). Certainly no car would be able to get away with having "essentially wheel-powered bicycle reflector lights" on the back of their car. Seems a bit like a double standard to me, but it also affects me in no way at all never having met an Amish person in my life or driven past anyone on a horse and buggy on a main road.
#23
Old 08-08-2005, 11:23 AM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Kansas
Posts: 8,159
Quote:
Originally Posted by Low Key
I don't know much about how traffic laws work in various states, but I seem to recall hearing about people having been pulled over for driving too slow. If the Amish (or whoever) are allowed to drive on a road with a 50mph speed limit, shouldn't they at least be expected to adhere to the same safety standards as everyone else (ie travelling at an appropriate speed and having appropriate lights for safety reasons). Certainly no car would be able to get away with having "essentially wheel-powered bicycle reflector lights" on the back of their car. Seems a bit like a double standard to me, but it also affects me in no way at all never having met an Amish person in my life or driven past anyone on a horse and buggy on a main road.
Well, I don't know how the minimum speed limit stuff works up there, but a lot of the other requirements that cars are required to meet as opposed to bicycles are requirements for motor vehicles. Since a horse-driven cart has no motor to speak of, it would not apply. That said, it seems like some kind of a buggy-lane could be handy, if rather inconvenient and expensive to set up on most roads.
#24
Old 08-08-2005, 11:45 AM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Central Pennsylvania
Posts: 36,689
Quote:
Originally Posted by JustAnotherGeek
Cross post (and slightly disgusting...)

What do you call an Amish with his hand up a horse's rear-end?









A mechanic!

What goes "Clip-clop, clip-clop, clip-clop...bang! bang!...clip-clop, clip-clop, clip-clop"?









An Amish drive-by shooting...
#25
Old 08-08-2005, 12:24 PM
Straight Dope Science Advisory Board
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Between the Moon and NYC
Posts: 13,023
Quote:
Originally Posted by Low Key
I don't know much about how traffic laws work in various states, but I seem to recall hearing about people having been pulled over for driving too slow. If the Amish (or whoever) are allowed to drive on a road with a 50mph speed limit, shouldn't they at least be expected to adhere to the same safety standards as everyone else (ie travelling at an appropriate speed and having appropriate lights for safety reasons). Certainly no car would be able to get away with having "essentially wheel-powered bicycle reflector lights" on the back of their car. Seems a bit like a double standard to me, but it also affects me in no way at all never having met an Amish person in my life or driven past anyone on a horse and buggy on a main road.

The reflector lights were a hard-fought compromise. The Amish do not believe in any form of modern technology, including battery-operated lights, and fought the state for years before both sides settled on the reflector lights, which use energy generated from the wheels.

Also, rural roads may be "main streets", but they're not all that busy in terms of traffic volume. The issue is not that they tie up traffic, but that they can force sudden deceleration.

Robin
#26
Old 08-08-2005, 02:11 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 1,534
A few things:

We don't appear to be referring just to "the Amish" here, but a variety of Anabaptists, including Mennonites of a few different stripes and River Brethren. Their takes on various issues vary from sect to sect and law likely applies differently to them state to state.

Most of these groups do use electricity in some form, although in most cases an effort is made to keep it out of the house. This tends to go out the window in the rumspringa youth period, a whole other matter.

I think it's important to note that they were where they lived long before "the English" moved in and brought the roads and high tension wires etc. You have all sorts of people moving into places like Lancaster County "for the charm" and now complaining that there are buggies on the road. Unbelievable.
#27
Old 08-08-2005, 02:16 PM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Central Pennsylvania
Posts: 36,689
Quote:
Originally Posted by MsRobyn
Also, rural roads may be "main streets", but they're not all that busy in terms of traffic volume. The issue is not that they tie up traffic, but that they can force sudden deceleration.
See, I've never had a real problem with them, mostly because I don't think it's any different, really, than the farmer who has to move the tractor from the field down the way back up to the barn (which may be a factor of a mile or two on the road). If anything, the tractor is slower than the buggy.
#28
Old 08-09-2005, 01:22 AM
Member
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: outside Oslo, Norway
Posts: 4,782
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crandolph
I think it's important to note that they were where they lived long before "the English" moved in and brought the roads and high tension wires etc. You have all sorts of people moving into places like Lancaster County "for the charm" and now complaining that there are buggies on the road. Unbelievable.
You seem to be implying that the current situation, with Plain People and English living side-by-side, is something new. That is incorrect. My family counts at least five generations in Lancaster County, and that's nothing particularly special - plenty of other English families go back much further. The Plain People didn't move into some unspoiled wilderness of Lancaster County; they moved in beside other European settlers.

And really, even among the most obnoxious of the newcomers, I've never heard a complaint that "those buggies shouldn't be allowed on the road". The complaints about buggies fall into two groups. First, the type of complaints the OP referenced, that buggies do damage to the roads but the buggy owners don't pay road taxes. I think in this case people see the superficial wear and tear, the scrapes and gouges in the surface caused by metal wheel rims and metal horse shoes, and assume that it represents significant damage. I don't know whether this assumption is correct; I believe it isn't, but I'd like to know whether roads in Lancaster County need to be repaired more often than those in, say, Adams County, which also has a significant tourist invasion every summer (Gettysburg) and the same climate, but considerably fewer buggies.

The second complaint which has come up involves safety. When you've got motorized and horse-drawn vehicles sharing the road, the difference in speed will pose a hazard, there's nothing much to do about that. Battery-operated lights, similar to the small LED lights now standard for bicycles, would make buggies easier to see, and many English drivers would like to see them be required. Some Plain communities agree (after all, they're the folks in the buggies, and much more likely to be badly injured or killed in an accident than the folks in the cars), some do not. I could also argue that PennDOT could look at how two-lane country highways are built in Sweden, with very wide, well-made shoulders that allow slower vehicles to pull right and greatly reduce the time it takes faster vehicles to overtake, making the road safer for everyone... but a) this is PennDOT we're talking about, and b) oh hell, Norway's right next door and our road authorities haven't picked up on the idea yet....

Anyway. The idea that all road users should help pay for the roads, and the concept that vehicles should carry necessary safety equipment, don't seem to me to be unnecessarily "mean" to Amish and buggy-using Mennonites. Buggy users don't see eye-to-eye with car users on all points of these issues, but that's hardly surprising, and it didn't start with the post-Witness search-for-peace-and-transquility invasion of big city folk.
__________________
An American flodnak in Oslo.
Do not open cover; no user serviceable parts inside.
#29
Old 08-09-2005, 09:03 AM
2012 SDMB NFL Salary Cap Champ
Charter Member
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Posts: 11,353
Quote:
Originally Posted by jayjay
See, I've never had a real problem with them, mostly because I don't think it's any different, really, than the farmer who has to move the tractor from the field down the way back up to the barn (which may be a factor of a mile or two on the road). If anything, the tractor is slower than the buggy.
True, the tractor is slower than the buggy, but it's a heck of a lot easier to see and you never almost rear-end a tractor at night.
#30
Old 08-09-2005, 09:10 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 1,534
Quote:
Originally Posted by flodnak
You seem to be implying that the current situation, with Plain People and English living side-by-side, is something new. That is incorrect.
Agreed. The level of development (cookie cutter housing developments etc) in the county has, however, spiked in recent years, along with attendant traffic. And virtuallt none of that new population is agrarian. I was driving around with a friend of mine who grew up in the county last summer and he was pretty upset; every sentence began with "That used to be..." and ended "... and now look at it!" He's only 30.

And it has only been in the last several decades that motor traffic has been an issue; of course previous to that everyone was horse-dependent.
#31
Old 08-09-2005, 10:12 AM
Guest
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: 192.168.0.1
Posts: 9,844
Quote:
Originally Posted by asterion
True, the tractor is slower than the buggy, but it's a heck of a lot easier to see and you never almost rear-end a tractor at night.
Not to mention a tractor in many cases is big and heavy enough to hardly notice a passenger car splattering itself against its back end..
#32
Old 08-09-2005, 09:55 PM
Mod Rocker
Moderator
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: N E Ohio
Posts: 40,591
Quote:
this really sounds to me like the same complaints about bicycles on the road.
Another difference between bicycles and buggies is that you rarely encounter a cyclist out at 11:00 p.m. on a rainy November night. Buggies are out all year for 16 - 20 hours a day, in all weather.

As noted, different Amish communities take different positions on the safety issues. Minnesota had a huge series of lawsuits and countersuits that finally resulted in the Amish agreeing to put the "slow-moving vehicle" triangles on the backs of their buggies, but only after the state came up with an alternative greyish reflector in place of the standard International Orange reflector. On the other hand, in my old neighborhood, Middlefield, OH, most of the buggies have lots of orange and silver striped tape on the roofs and sides of the backs of the buggies and they all have battery operated tail lights, generally set to flash. Down in Miller County, OH, with a larger Amish population than even Lancaster, PA, they are not quite so "gaudy" with the reflector tape, but they generally have lights for night use.
#33
Old 08-09-2005, 09:56 PM
Mod Rocker
Moderator
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: N E Ohio
Posts: 40,591
(I do not know how many Amish communities were involved in the fight with Minnesota. It may have been all of them or only a few of them.)
#34
Old 08-09-2005, 11:02 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: City of the Red Chicken
Posts: 1,120
Quote:
Originally Posted by flodnak
First, the type of complaints the OP referenced, that buggies do damage to the roads but the buggy owners don't pay road taxes. I think in this case people see the superficial wear and tear, the scrapes and gouges in the surface caused by metal wheel rims and metal horse shoes, and assume that it represents significant damage.
This would depend on the type of road. It is quite possible that metal rimmed buggies loaded with supplies could damage an asphalt road on a hot summer day. No chance of damaging a concrete road, but could makes scrape marks on it.
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:07 AM.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: [email protected]

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Copyright © 2017
Best Topics: wellbutrin cocaine enforced method acting microwaving garlic lawnmower muffler caffeine vs sugar expired syrup 1800 geeksquad mancer types limburgh cheese burning mummies seven lust scene lump in forearm can't use chopsticks nsrgf stock is my car totaled if the airbags deployed what type of alien is yoda the mark of true sexual deviation is cost to move washer and dryer upstairs schick personal touch razor blades why is europe a continent cleaning glasses with isopropyl alcohol does professor x have telekinesis how to get a hairy chest karate vs aikido real fight