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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Liberal Consciences Put To The Test

Three law professors have established a website (h/t RightCoast via Instapundit) where people can calculate how much they are saving by the extension of the current marginal tax rates and then donate that amount to one of four selected charities.

The website, GiveItBackForJobs.org, states that the purpose is as follows:
America’s shared prosperity is under threat. Even as the Great Recession devastates the American middle class, the wealthy continue to prosper.

The tax cut deal, while perhaps the best the President could get, will not end this crisis of American democracy. It does too little to help the middle class. And it expects too little support from those who can afford to give the most. Ordinary citizens can, by acting together to create a shadow fiscal policy, correct this failure of government and set the country moving toward a just prosperity. Here’s how.

Americans who have the means should collectively give back our Bush tax cuts by making donations to organizations that promote fairness, economic growth, and a vibrant middle class. Such joint action, by all visitors to this site, will begin to replicate good government policy, outside the government and free from the grip of obstructionists within it. Because contributions to all of the selected charities are tax deductible, donations made through this site draft the government as a partner in funding the projects that they support.

We can, in this way, begin to redeem candidate Obama’s promise that “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”
The website calculates your "savings" as follows:
Our tax cut calculations are estimates only. We base them on the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center Microsimulation Model (www.taxpolicycenter.org). We follow the Tax Policy Center and base our calculations on a comparison of the Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010, as considered by the Senate, and the law as it would have been had no new statute been enacted. We interpolate within the ranges in the tax policy center’s data. More importantly, our calculations of the tax cut do not include the 2% reduction in the payroll (OASDI) tax rate on employees. That reduction represents the kind of fair and stimulative fiscal policy that we hope to mimic and encourage.
I like the idea.  I've always felt that those who want higher taxes should pay higher taxes. 

But I'm not sure the methodology is appropriate to the goal, since the money is not paid to the government and the donor gets a tax deduction for the donation.  So the net effect is that payment is not an act equal to paying higher taxes, in fact, it is just the opposite.

It also will be hard to know if the contributions actually represent a contribution of the tax savings from extension of current rates, or just a contribution which would have been made anyway.

Nonetheless, I hope that the creators of the site will honor Obama's commitment to transparency, and will release the aggregate numbers of money donated through the website.

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  1. From liberals? Without the government forcing it from them? Dollar and a quarter, one seventy five, tops.

  2. This is the essence of liberalism. The fact that it cannot really be understood. I have always told my liberal friends, if they think they are not paying enough in taxes, the IRS would likely accept their donations. They do not like this, of course, because it wouldn't be fair...do as I say, not as I do...

  3. Actually, don't tread, the IRS won't. They return the excess.

    What don't readers of this blog know about the administrative state? About everything

  4. "Actually, don't tread, the IRS won't. They return the excess."



    Citizens who wish to make a general donation to the U.S. government may send contributions to a specific account called "Gifts to the United States." This account was established in 1843 to accept gifts, such as bequests, from individuals wishing to express their patriotism to the United States. Money deposited into this account is for general use by the federal government and can be available for budget needs. These contributions are considered an unconditional gift to the government. Financial gifts can be made by check or money order payable to the United States Treasury and mailed to the address below.

    Gifts to the United States
    U.S. Department of the Treasury
    Credit Accounting Branch
    3700 East-West Highway, Room 622D
    Hyattsville, MD 20782