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Debates Forum

Debates Forum

  1. 03 Sep '10 14:52 / 1 edit
    A common complaint on the part of many posters here seems to be that citizens feel that the government is unaccountable and that they don't have much say over how their own tax revenue is spent. Of course, they get to vote, but this means that they have to abide by the will of the majority about how everyone's taxes are spent.

    So - should each taxpayer be given the chance to allocate a certain proportion of the money he hands over in tax to something of his choice? A tax return could include a section where you nominate how, say, ten percent of your taxes are to be spent; you could tick boxes assigning each thousand dollars as you pleased to pensions, health care, transport, education, defence, deficit reduction, the arts, scientific research, or any of the other things on which tax revenue is spent. If the experiment is successful, the percentage of taxes that you could allocate personally could be increased to 20% and so on.

    Any thoughts?
  2. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    03 Sep '10 14:55
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    A common complaint on the part of many posters here seems to be that citizens feel that the government is unaccountable and that they don't have much say over how their own tax revenue is spent. Of course, they get to vote, but this means that they have to abide by the will of the majority about how everyone's taxes are spent.

    So - should each taxpayer ...[text shortened]... taxes that you could allocate personally could be increased to 20% and so on.

    Any thoughts?
    Same difference. The same people who vote for whomever Keith Olbermann or Glenn Beck tell them to vote for would check the boxes that lbermann or Glenn Beck tell them to check.
  3. 03 Sep '10 15:28 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by sh76
    Same difference. The same people who vote for whomever Keith Olbermann or Glenn Beck tell them to vote for would check the boxes that lbermann or Glenn Beck tell them to check.
    I think there are a couple of key differences. Firstly, you get to fill in a tax return every year, whereas you only get to vote for the people who now decide taxation every five years in Britain; every two, four or six years in the US. So someone who though Obama's health care plan was a good thing in 2008, and voted for him accordingly, is now powerless to stop his taxes funding it even if he changed his mind during 2009; whereas, under my plan, he could now begin to withhold his taxes from the health care scheme by not ticking the box on his 2010 return.

    Secondly, when you vote for a party, you end up getting their whole programme, not all of which you may approve of. Let's say you think that the state should fund education, but that railway and bus transport should be run by private companies. However, you find that the left-of-centre party is going to fund both a state health care system and a public transport network. State health care is your first priority, so you vote for them, but your vote ends up implementing a policy of which you disapprove alongside the other policy that earned them your vote. Under my plan, by contrast, you can use your taxes to fund health care while withholding them from transport. Surely this is more responsive to the priorities of the individual taxpayer.
  4. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    03 Sep '10 16:00
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    I think there are a couple of key differences. Firstly, you get to fill in a tax return every year, whereas you only get to vote for the people who now decide taxation every five years in Britain; every two, four or six years in the US. So someone who though Obama's health care plan was a good thing in 2008, and voted for him accordingly, is now powerless ...[text shortened]... m from transport. Surely this is more responsive to the priorities of the individual taxpayer.
    Hey, who are you to debate my flippant snide remark with facts or logic?
  5. 03 Sep '10 16:18
    go whole hog. require every taxpayer to spend two hours in the voting booth, checking off their ideal budget. and use that and only that.
  6. 03 Sep '10 17:07
    Originally posted by sh76
    Hey, who are you to debate my flippant snide remark with facts or logic?
    Damn, just a poor honest RHP poster like your good self.
  7. 03 Sep '10 17:13
    Originally posted by zeeblebot
    go whole hog. require every taxpayer to spend two hours in the voting booth, checking off their ideal budget. and use that and only that.
    Well - that would be a radical step to introduce all in one go, but my original 10% plan includes the proviso that the proportion could be increased if the scheme works.

    I actually think it wouldn't work too badly - as long as the government continues to set actual tax rates and thus ensure that the total amount of revenue is sufficient. People on the right would favour defence spending and deficit reduction; people on the left would want their taxes to pay mainly for social services; overall, things might work out reasonably balanced and reasonably centrist. In fact, it could reduce the sharp swings between left and right that are usually a feature of a two-party system.