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?

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.

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?

(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.

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.

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.

[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.)

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.

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.

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.

There’s the whole medical benefits issue, too.

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”.

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.

ISTR seeing “offal catchers” strung behind horses drawing buggies.

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.


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 wasn’t stated in MsRobyns post, but I’ll assume the if the buggies were lawfully using the roads in question.
[ul]If that’s the case then the community should come up with some kind of plan to reduce the danger of this situation. I may be naïve, but I believe a plan acceptable to both sides could be reached.[/ul]
[ul]If not, then the buggy owners are obliged to obey the local laws.

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.