Sunday, June 27, 2010

pay more taxes, voluntary? right!

The functions of these programs differ widely, but they all share one remarkable feature. The taxpayer dollars were not wrenched from the pockets of the Commonwealth’s residents. Instead, thousands of Bay Staters checked off boxes on their income tax returns opting to contribute to the funds. These people paid, in other words, what sounds like the ultimate oxymoron: voluntary taxes.
Though voluntary tax programs could never generate enough money to run a state, more people chip in than you might expect (more, that is, than none). And according to some enthusiasts, we could be doing more to capitalize on this surprising willingness to give. Voluntary taxes, these thinkers say, offer a politically palatable way to raise additional revenue and perhaps even to strengthen Americans’ sense of patriotism and citizenship. And in the current political and fiscal climate, lawmakers are frankly desperate for creative solutions.
and this from a study referenced by the article
The authors concluded that dislike of taxes may be not just a matter of reluctance to part with our money, or mistrust of the government: It may be largely about the lack of control over where exactly our money goes.
I think too little is paid to this particular aspect of control. Several of the comments on the Milford Daily News pages mentioned this lack of specifics as to where the money was to be used. Even though the authorization from the Town Council was for the $3 million to be divided with $1.8 M for the schools, $300,000 for the Town and $900,000 for road repair, the question on the ballot per state guidelines was phrased as:
Shall the Town of Franklin be allowed to assess an additional $3,000,000.00 in real estate and personal property taxes for the purpose of the operating budget for which monies from this assessment will be used for the fiscal year beginning July 1, two thousand and ten?
Indeed, the article does go on to say
... it seems that giving taxpayers some control over the funds is key. The University of Texas economists found that when subjects were permitted to earmark their donations, contributions more than doubled. 
Read the full article in the Boston Globe Ideas section here:

Franklin, MA

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