Today is Tax Day – the day when tax returns are due to the government. Truth be told, it’s not a day many of us look forward to. Like going to the dentist or skipping dessert, filing taxes is something we do because we have to, not because we want to. And yet there is more to doing our taxes than that. It is one of the characteristics of participatory citizenship in the United States. Like voting in our elections. Like volunteering to serve our country. These are all part of the fabric of the American nation. So before we all move on with our busy lives, we wanted to reflect on the deeply empowering aspects of filing your return – and why it’s actually an event worth valuing and celebrating.

Taxes are deeply personal. No two tax returns are identical  because no two of us are the same. After all, you — and only you — understand the uniqueness of your life…your individual circumstances, your family environment and living arrangements, your employment details and, critically, the deductions and credits you qualify for and deserve.

Since the founding of the Republic itself, taxes have been deeply embedded in defining the relationship between the governed and their government. The importance of that relationship was a paramount issue that traces its heritage back to the beginning of the American experiment. It’s importance was perhaps best expressed by our colonial ancestors in a resolution adopted by the Stamp Act Congress of 1764:

“….It is inseparably essential to the freedom of a people…that no taxes be imposed on them, but with their own consent, given personally, or by their representatives.”

The establishment of the Income Tax in the early 20th Century, as a Voluntary Tax Compliance system, has its philosophical origins in the principles of the rights of the governed that go back to our national beginning. Viewed from this historical perspective, the empowerment of the citizen in determining their own taxation is not an incidental or irrelevant detail. It is quintessentially American. It gives us the power to determine – on our own – our financial obligations and our priorities for the year. For many, it’s the chance to get back some hard-earned money through a refund, which can often be their largest payday of the year.

So, beyond the refunds and returns, it is important to reflect on what filing your taxes really means, and why it  can be the most financially significant and empowering moment of the year. It is the one time annually when each of us has to take stock of our whole financial picture. It’s a time to reflect on the year that was and plan for the year that will be. A time to look forward, take control of our financial lives, and set goals and strategies for the future. At Intuit, we’re proud to help millions of Americans each year get the most out of tax time. Our mission is to power prosperity – and that means being on your side, guiding you through your finances, putting the tools in your hands to empower you to take charge of your finances, by helping you apply our nation’s tax code to your specific situation and meet your Voluntary Compliance obligation.

We do that by building a product that helps make preparing taxes easy and simple. We also advocate on your behalf for a simpler tax code and the right of every American to continue to determine their own tax obligation. We believe the more you know about your finances, the more you are in control and can make informed decisions about your money.

It is sometimes pointed out that other nations around the world rely on their governments to exercise all aspects of the taxation process, from cradle to grave, for every citizen. But in the United States, and our neighbor to the North, Canada, the income tax system is uniquely citizen-centric.   And that is empowering.

So take a moment today to celebrate – celebrate that you are done, celebrate the year gone by and the year that lies ahead, and celebrate the unique opportunity and right we have in this country to be stewards of our own finances.