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Solutions: The taxpayer receipt

The Planet Money blog linked to this from an outfit called Third Way, which came up with a “taxpayer receipt” showing where your federal tax money goes.

I agree with the Third Way people that this is a very good idea, and would be very easy for government to implement. Fact is, anything that dispels the myth that our tax dollars pay for welfare is a good thing. (Unless you think that military contracts are welfare for contractors.)

I do have some quibbles with their sample receipt. It’s only selected budget items, so things like military procurement are not listed, and it lumps in Social Security contributions with the rest of our taxes. As I’ll explain in a later post, hopefully one with pretty pictures, they’re Social Security contributions, not taxes, and they shouldn’t be conflated.

Still, those are quibbles–the point is that there’s no good reason not to do this. It’s not a completely original idea, but it will be timely for as long as we haven’t implemented it. Anything that simple, that gives people clear information about such an important subject, should be a no-brainer.

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