How would you like to choose where your tax money goes?

Elkhunter

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Monday, February 28, 2005

How would you like to choose where your tax money goes?

By DAVID PFEIFLE
GUEST COLUMNIST

I have heard a lot lately about people wanting to withhold all or part of their taxes because they disagree with the Iraq war or simply U.S. military and diplomatic policy in general. Currently this is the only recourse that conscientious tax objectors have, but it not without risk.

Those who withhold their taxes for any reason run the risk of having their property seized and even, in some case, jail -- hardly a risk that any but the most radical objectors are willing to take.

More than 200 years ago "No taxation without representation" was the rallying cry of the revolutionaries who founded our country. I doubt they could have envisioned the racially, religiously and politically diverse nation we have become or the wide variety of views we hold. I believe the notion that paying taxes requires that your views be heard is just as valid today, and that we as citizens should have the right to choose the way our tax dollars are spent. It is with this in mind that I propose a bold new experiment that should please conservatives, liberals and everyone in between: Let the people decide where their money goes. It would be quite simple. When you fill out your W4 form, you designate what percentage of your taxes goes where.

Do you want to spend your money on social programs, the environment, defense or paying down the national debt? It's your choice. You would designate what percentage of your taxes goes to what you value most; it's that simple. Talk about direct democracy!

But wait, you say, this is all well and good but what if there is not enough money to support a certain government program? I propose two options. Option one: Those who choose that program can choose to adjust their tax allocations or simply pay more. Option two: The funding for the program is reduced to reflect the will of the people.

Then again, what if there is more money for a program than is allocated? The program could be funded at a higher rate, the taxes could be refunded or the money could go to pay down the national debt, which, in the long run, lowers the tax burden for all regardless of their priorities.

Am I being realistic? Probably not. Such changes would require Congress and the president to reduce their taxing authority and would require the voters rise up and demand to be treated fairly.

Then again, who would have imagined more than 200 years ago that a small confederation of states would become the most powerful nation in the world?



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