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What is the Tax Choice Program?

BY Allison Fine | Wednesday, February 4 2009

Well, it's nothing yet, I just made the term up. But it could be something really interesting.

Yesterday, I came across a site called, Pick. Click. Give. It is a site created by the Alaska state government to encourage Alaskans to apply for rheir PFD (Permanent Fund Dividend, not to be confused with PDF, Personal Democracy Forum) the money that each resident gets as part of the state's oil fund, and give a percentage of it to a variety of nonprofits in the state.

Nice idea, although perhaps more idealistic than realistic in today's economy.

Nonetheless, I started to think that redistributing part of a government refund isn't that far from possibly redistributing part of the taxes that we pay to government. Because paying taxes feels just awful, doesn't it? Even when I know in my head that the bulk of the money is going to things that we all need; roads, military defense, education, Social Security, it doesn't feel any better. The government just keeps taking and taking from our paychecks and purchase and investments and it all goes into this big, black hole that the politicians and lobbyists get to play with while we're struggling to make ends meet. But maybe for just a small portion of our taxes we could use social media to change the dynamic and give us more choice as to where our taxes go.

Why can't we create a Tax Choice Program whereby we all get to determine where, say, 10% of our state and federal taxes will go. It would be our own personal tax discretionary fund.

Imagine submitting your taxes electronically and then clicking on a button that says Tax Choice. A screen pops up that provides choices of where your 10% can go - a school infrastructure program, a clean, green recreation program, mass transit, health clinics. Maybe we've voted on what these choices are before hand, similar to the terrific effort just concluded by Change.org called Ideas for Change in America.

We know, scientifically, that giving money to causes and programs that we care about makes us feel better, not just psychologically, actually, physically makes us feel better. So maybe, just maybe, the other 90% wouldn't feel so bad if we felt really good about our discretionary 10%. Maybe.