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It’s time for taxpayers to demand a receipt

at 02:22 PM ET, 03/28/2011

I’m glad to see the Taxpayer Receipt gaining some momentum. The center-left think tank Third Way and the liberal journal Democracy have both joined up to promote it (and here), there’s an online tax-receipt calculator that you can test-drive right now, and Sens. Bill Nelson, Scott Brown and Lisa Murkowski have teamed up to introduce the idea in the Senate. So, hopefully, this dead-obvious reform — your grocery store has been hip to it for quite some time — is close to happening.

For those in need of a quick refresher on the Taxpayer Receipt, the basic idea is laughably simple to implement but perhaps quite profound once it’s being done. As things stand, most Americans don’t know where their tax dollars go. They should. And they can. It’d be trivial for the IRS to send or e-mail them a receipt showing precisely how their money is spent. You can see an example atop this post, or if you’d like to see a larger version, click here. Presumably, that’ll end the days of the public thinking that much of their tax dollar is spent on foreign aid. Rather, they’d see that it’s defense, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid that cost money. As I’ve said before, the federal government is an insurance conglomerate protected by a large, standing army. It’s time the public knew that so they could decide what, if anything, they’d like to do about it.

 
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