Dear President Obama: An idea to create a tax system that incentivizes active participation

Here’s an awesome tax-reform idea that will:

  • Promote fiscal responsibility by requiring budgets be set openly
  • Give Americans a sense of purpose in paying taxes
  • Incentivize Americans to pay taxes early
  • Quiet arguments on taxes
  • Display governmental and fiscal transparency

The scoop:

  1. The federal government finalizes budgets for all of its departments and agencies by November 30.
  2. On December 1, the budgets are published on the IRS.gov website.
  3. Starting January 1, Americans can designate how much (dollar-wise or percentage-wise) of their quarterly or annual taxes they would like to pay toward each pre-set budget.
    • Real-time budget availability is shown on the IRS.gov website
    • Tax returns filed on paper are taken into consideration, though priority is given to electronic returns (for obvious efficiency reasons)
  4. Once a budget has been filled, it is closed — no additional tax revenues can be designated toward that particular budget.
    • This quickly shows what the people ACTUALLY care about. This is important.
    • There’s still a discretionary budget; this is where money is pulled if any of the pre-set budgets end up being way off.
  5. Tax payers choosing NOT to designate their taxes are given the option to “you choose for me,” which evenly splits their taxes across all open budgets OR goes into the discretionary fund.
    • This is used to cap remaining budgets and/or provide more funds to agencies that end up needing it as the year progresses (e.g., to pay for natural disaster recovery).

Why it’s Awesome:

Such a system could encourage people to feel a sense of ownership that they may currently NOT feel. If I was able to designate, for example, 100 percent of my annual tax burden to the agencies I feel are most deserving, I then would feel LESS disgruntled when I’m asked the next year to pay a greater amount of taxes. This is how life works anyway — if I want to buy a house today, I’m certain the cost will be less than what it will be in the future. And that’s OK, because I know I’m buying a house I want versus just throwing money into ANY house, without my choosing.

Please make the tax system more transparent, and give that sense of confidence in government back to the people. |

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