Sun. August, 16th 2015 – In an interview with Steve Piotrowski, a conservative activist out of Pennsylvania, we learn an alternative way of pushing a wheelbarrow into the back door of the establishment…literally and figuratively speaking.
As an advocate of property tax reform, Piotrowski decided to pay his property taxes in pennies, prompting a lot of attention from peers, community, and media alike. We learn in this interview a lot about the process and the ideologies behind the matter. You can do it yourself to show the local tax collectors that the American people want reform. [Please check local ordinances before attempting.] Before reading the interview, watch this short video to better familiarize yourself with the context:
S.I. – Was this kind of a borrowed idea, or what prompted the idea for you to pay your taxes in copper?
Steve – To be honest we didn’t have any intention on the plan of action, with you know something like the pennies. At first I didn’t have any intention on making a statement. It felt to me like it had a more or very emotional value. For example: I was hoping to maintain some type of green balance with them. For the past year I had been trying to keep up with the tax collector as far as how much I had owed after the numerous ‘penalties’ they call them.
After I finally could afford to pay my taxes, all the ‘pennies’ they tacked on after I could afford to pay, just made me have to work even harder, and it came down to the wire.
Within the same week that I had decided to do this, I had found out that August 1st I would have lost my house to a Sheriff’s sale, had I not come up with the amount of my back taxes along with all the penalties, plus an extra $400 a day in fees to post in the newspaper. A friend of mine paid last year in dollar bills, so I figured you know what… If there are creative ways of doing it, and others are paying way higher property taxes and doing so in small denominations, I might as well go out with a bang. And I just decided to pay it all in pennies. Basically it was two things. 1) How can I stick it to the man? 2) How can I make a statement enough to get the word out?
S.I. – You provided a solution within the You Tube video where you propose property tax decrease, beginning with government funded school systems. Can you elaborate a little further on this?
Steve – I don’t believe that government funded schooling is the solution. I tend to believe more in the free market system. For example; community, church, and volunteer education centers. I’ve proposed an incremental decrease of property taxes across the state of Pennsylvania by 25% to start the process of handing the citizens some of their money back for the things they see fit to spend it on. Just a start to get people thinking.
“No tax should have the power to leave anyone homeless” – Steve Piotrowski
S.I. – Why do you think the establishment you hauled over 83,000 pennies into would not allow the press coverage to continue through the door, and should you have protested that?
Steve – Let’s see… there was two options. I could have a county tax collector come meet me, but they only accept cash or money order. Under Federal law however, the bank must accept them. So with the bank being a private property, they have the ultimate say in recording on their property. I just wanted to give the idea, not necessarily be disrespectful.
S.I. – How long did it take once you were inside?
Steve – A lot longer than I expected! (Laughs) A lot of people actually said, ‘See you could have been at work that day?’ And I was very late for work. So it took me two hours just to get all the pennies broken apart, and another few hours just to allow the tellers to count, and they even had to hire security guards when they’re moving the bags, and getting the whole thing done.
S.I. – Among the 15 different banks you said you visited to acquire the pennies, did any charge you a fee? Which bank gave you the most pennies?
Steve – For the most part each of them were the same. None of them charged a fee, but the most the average bank will allow you to get is 2 boxes. Each box contains $25 worth of pennies. One of the tellers actually told me that if I had called a week in advance and ordered boxes of pennies, they will order more of them for you, and hold them.
In doing this, it actually got the word out further. When your consulting with the bank employees, and they ask you about the pennies, I explain that I’m paying property taxes, sparking the conversation.
S.I. – What advice then do you have for others encouraged by your protest who want to take a stand against unjust taxation?
Steve – This was basically done to make a statement specifically for property taxes. It’s really whatever you can do. If 10,000 people paid their property taxes in pennies?
S.I. – You figure if others paid property taxes in pennies it could make the statement enough for real reform, and the key to getting some change?
Steve – If this idea kept going and people caught on, I think repetition is key and it would certainly get enough people thinking yes.
S.I. – How heavy was that wheelbarrow? (Laughs)
Steve – It was pretty heavy… I’d estimate a couple hundred pounds.
Steve Piotrowski is an activist and the Founder & President of Citizens For Liberty, a site aimed at education for advancing freedom with smart-activism, and common sense solutions.
Interview by James Job.
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