Forks Township, PA -- As a symbolic protest, Robert Fernandes recently paid the portion of his real estate taxes that goes to the public schools in dollar bills. He brought a bag full of singles as a way to register his disagreement with being coerced into paying into a system that he considers is violating his property rights.
Out of his total property tax bill of $10,000, the portion allocated to the public schools in Forks Township totaled $7,143.54.
So Fernandes, a father of three who homeschools his kids rather than sending them to the public schools, showed up at the tax collector's office with a gym bag filled with dollar bills to pay the $7,143.54 in full (he added the 54 cents in pocket change). See embed above.
He also brought donuts for the tax office staff as a way to make amends for any inconvenience. It turned out, however, that the tax collector lacked the ability to count the money and give Fernandes a paid-in-full receipt, thus necessitating a trip to a nearby bank to complete the transaction.
On the video, Fernandes explains that property taxes are usually incorporated into a homeowner's monthly mortgage payment "So they don't get to actually see how much taxes are being stolen from them... I like to create a visual so people can actually see how much money is being taken." He added that he didn't show up at the tax collector's office voluntarily, and that he is paying the school tax only because otherwise the town could foreclose on his home if his bill goes unpaid.
About five minutes into the video, Fernandes further expounds upon what might be considered a libertarian, free-market philosophy about taxes and the public, i.e., government, education system: "It's pretty tough for me to part with this [cash]... as you can see, I have a wife and three children... I can think of better uses of this money then to give it to some service that we don't even use... we homeschool our kids, so we don't even use the public school system, yet I'm being forced to pay all this money into the public school system that I don't use, don't want, don't need... and I don't think that's either fair, just, or even ethical... It would be the equivalent if McDonald's were to force vegetarians to pay for their cheeseburgers."
Regardless of whether you buy the Fernandes symbolic protest or not, many property owners around the country have been forced to sell their residences and/or leave their hometowns entirely because they simply can't afford skyrocketing real estate taxes. Generally, a significant portion of school taxes go to fund salaries and benefits of administrators and teachers.
Is it fair to require homeschoolers to pay the same amount in property tax as those who send their kids to public school?