A fellow I know solicited input on Facebook about area builders who do pole barns. Several suggested contractors were named and I suggested a local Amish contractor who I know to be hardworking, honest, and dependable.
The very next response was from a person claiming that, “the amish [sic] charge double of what anyone else would. And the money you pay them doesnt [sic] go back into our infrustructure [sic]. So keep that in mind when you hit a pothole on your way to work.” The next post after that was, “…sometimes they are cheaper because alot [sic] of them have 10-12 year old working and they don’t pay workers comp insurance or into social security. And they fill up the waiting rooms everywhere they are offering free health services eye exams or dental care.”
Several things immediately came to mind. First, neither have mastered basic punctuation, spelling, and the rules for capitalization. Secondly, both are obviously prejudiced and biased against the Amish and I’ll assume the Mennonites as well. And lastly, they are both just plain ignorant of reality.
The Amish, with certain understandable exceptions, are not exempt from any taxes. As a matter of fact, they have to pay taxes for which they receive little or no services. Here’s the breakdown:
- They pay the same sales taxes we all pay.
- They pay the same income taxes we all pay.
- They are exempt from Social Security unless they are employed by someone who is required by law to withhold Social Security. In either event, they receive no Social Security benefits. So what is paid is forever lost.
- Same is true of property taxes. They pay the same as everyone including taxes to support public education. So, while they are paying for public schools their children do not attend them. The exceptions are for those children who have special needs.
- I cannot address the question about workman’s compensation. One reason is the law will vary with each state. But, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the same rule about Social Security applies to workman’s compensation.
- In most cases, highway maintenance is covered by taxes on fuels and since the more conservative Amish and Mennonites travel by horse-drawn vehicles they don’t pay fuel taxes. But, in their defense what they lose in Social Security and school taxes more than makes up for the very minimal wear their vehicles cause to the nation’s highways. Amish buggies are common occurrences on the road I live on. But the damage they cause is nothing compared to that caused by semi tractor-trailer rigs hauling agricultural grains to the mills. Plus, do farmers pay road taxes on these vehicles? I know they don’t on the huge tractors and combines that frequent the area’s roads and highways.
- And finally, at all those free clinics, are Amish and Mennonites the only people taking advantage of them? I’m thinking they are a small minority.
While not mentioned by the two individuals I quoted earlier, a very popular dig at the Amish is the horse dung that’s left in their wake. Well, so what? How is that so different than the toxic fumes emitted into the atmosphere by fossil fuels or the tons of tossed out six-packs and McDonald’s fast food wrappers that brought tears to the eyes of Iron Eyes Cody?
One more thing before I finish this piece. My daughter had a house framed by a group of Mennonite carpenters. She had to pick them up and take them home every day but in return, she got men with fantastic skills and work ethics. From the time their work shoes hit the ground they were working. The only exception was for a 30-minute lunch break. No smoke breaks, no coffee breaks, no hangovers, no idle standing around and shooting the shit or bitching about how much they hated life. They charged $15.00 an hour and they gave back $15.00 worth of labor and skill. I had exactly the same experience with a local Amish roofer who replaced the back roof of my garage.
Okay, I lied. There is one more thing I want to say. I know what I know about the Amish and taxes because my long-time tax accountant once told me that the Amish paid no taxes. I didn’t challenge them but I did come home and do my research. Next year I hired a different account. Why would I want to trust my numbers to a person so biased and or ignorant?