On Aug. 27, Robert Fernandes, a fed-up father of three in eastern Pennsylvania, brought out the Benjamins Washingtons — 7,143 of them, to be exact, in a big blue duffle bag — to pay the portion of his property taxes that go to schools. For the record, he also brought 54 cents.
Fernandes doesn’t believe he should have to pay the portion of his taxes that goes to the local school district because he and his wife home-school their seven-year-old child. (The other two kids are four and one.)
With friends and family in tow, the free-market-loving dad captured his inconvenient payment method for posterity and uploaded it on YouTube on Aug. 30. The video has received over 300,000 hits.
“We don’t even use the public system, yet I am being forced to pay all this money into a public school system. I don’t think that’s really either fair or just or even ethical,” he told The (Easton) Express-Times. “It would be the equivalent if McDonald’s were to force vegetarians to pay for their cheeseburgers.”
In the video, Fernandes says that he is paying the tax not because he wants to but because local officials could force foreclosure on the property if he doesn’t.
“I fear for the threat somebody will come and take my house away from me if I don’t pay this,” he explains.
Anne Bennett-Morse, the local tax collector who was on duty to accept the multitude of greenbacks, told Fernandes that the school board, not the local municipality of Forks Township, sets the budget for the schools. Bennett-Morse also noted that most people pay their bills with checks.
Fernandes alleged that he wasn’t trying to cause any hardship. He also brought a couple dozen doughnuts for the employees at the tax collection office.
Erik Chuss, a local government bigwig, told The Express-Times that his advice for disaffected taxpayers would be to show up at public meetings or perhaps run for local political office.
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