The Duties and Responsibilities of a Citizen

Updated March 23, 2017

People often speak about their rights as a citizen, which can include everything from the right to a fair trial to the right to a certain level of privacy, depending on which country you live in. However, with a citizen's rights come a certain number of duties and responsibilities, as well. Many people do not think about these tasks as being necessary to their citizenship status in the United States, for example; nevertheless, in some cases, failure to uphold these duties and responsibilities can result in legal action.


One of the most basic duties of a citizen is to follow the laws of his country. Without citizens who respect the laws, a country's organizational system would cease to function. Because of this, penalties exist in each society for citizens who break laws or who disregard them; it is each citizen's duty and responsibility to uphold all laws, or nobody will end up following them.


Citizens must also accept their duties and responsibilities to pay taxes, usually in several different forms. For example, in the United States today, people pay taxes on their incomes, on purchases of goods, on imports/exports and on inherited property, among other things. These taxes help keep the government running and insure that the systems in place work for all citizens. In practice, citizens might not be happy with the distribution or uses of their tax money; however, it is still their responsibility to pay the taxes in accordance with the law.


Different kinds of service may be required of citizens. The two major kinds of service are military and jury. Many societies require mandatory military service, whether or not the country is at war; the United States had such a requirement when it had the draft. On the other hand, citizens may also be required to serve on a jury. Serving on a jury ensures that each person can be tried by his peers, and keeps the judicial system (and thus the legal system) of the country working efficiently. Because of this, it is everyone's right and duty to serve.


Though people may not think their vote counts, voting is an important duty of citizens around the world who live in democratic societies. Voting helps keep politicians accountable, makes the government more representative of the people's interests, and keeps citizens accountable to their governments for staying engaged and active. This civic duty is vital to keeping a society running.

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