by Neville Kennard, veteran preaching and practising capitalist
Imagine for a moment that by some strange quirk of realism or madness the government allowed us to pay our taxes to whatever qualified recipients we chose.
Such “qualified recipients” could include the sort of organisations that now receive tax-deductible donations, such as the Salvation Army, Red Cross, Universities, Schools, Smith Family, even The Centre for Independent Studies … there are thousands of them, organisations that are “non-profit” and are deemed, by the government, to be worthy recipients of donations and philanthropy.
So just imagine that we could choose whether we paid out our tax to the government, or to one or several of our preferred non-profits and charities. The amount of “tax” in this hypothetical exercise would be the same and must be paid, but the recipients could be of our choosing. And we could send it, or some of it, to the government if we so chose.
How much would the government get of peoples’ “taxes” if they could choose to direct it elsewhere? Would people think well enough of the government and the way they spend our taxes to continue to send the money to them? Or might they send it to some other favoured cause and charity?
If you, for example, had a $10,000 tax bill, how much, if any, would you send to Canberra for them to use and disperse? Some people may send something to Canberra just to keep the show on the road, but I suspect few would send it all to the Tax Consumption Capital of Australia. Most people, I suspect, would think that they can direct it in better directions to organisations who will make better use of it than the government seems to. Charities and “non-profits” are more accountable than are our governments, even though we “elect” them and like to think they work for us.
I would feel good giving my tax money to my favourite educational institutions. Others would like it to go to help the poor, or to private non-profit foreign aid organisations. The Nature Conservancy would be on some people’s list and others would direct it to medical research. Churches who do good work would receive some, no doubt, as would sporting and community groups.
The point of this little exercise in imaginary thinking — because it is not going to happen — is to make us think how much we trust our government and how much we like what they do with our money.
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- The Tragedy of the Tax Pool Commons
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- Neville Kennard Obituary