Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Your Notice of Expenditure

     Let’s face it. Most of us gripe about the taxes we pay and how they’re wasted on all manner of frivolous things but few of us do anything about it.
     The reason, of course, is that we see little connection between the individual four or five-figure tax bill we pay and the billions of dollars that get spent on who knows what. There may be lots of waste but it appears rather nebulous.
     Well what if we changed the way government spending is tracked and allotted each personal tax levy to all or part of some very specific expenditure? I suspect we might then be more interested in where our money goes, way more interested. In fact, I’m guessing that such a system might generate so much interest and outrage that almost every tax-paying citizen would become very, very politically involved.
     Don’t believe me? Let’s pretend that such a system is now in place and with your IRS notice of tax paid, you also received a notice of expenditure. A notice of expenditure that let you know exactly where your tax levy was going to be spent. Here are just a few examples of the kind of communication you might receive:
1.    The Government of the United States thanks you for your tax payment of $6,564 and is pleased to inform you that it will be spent on the maintenance and refurbishment of one physical desk and seat in the U. S. Senate chamber.
2.     The IRS wishes to confirm the amount of $8,789 on your tax account. We look forward to receiving the outstanding balance owing. In the meantime, we wanted you to know that your taxes will be used to partially pay for the sound editing on one of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ TV commercials showing what a great job they’re doing.
3.     This note of thanks accompanying your IRS notice comes from me, Joe Back Bencher, the honorable Congressman from Whalebone Bay, Alaska. Your kind (albeit mandatory) tax payment of $15,343 will just about cover three round trip tickets so I can visit the wife and kids and drum up some more donations to help me get reelected so I can continue to do the nation’s business.  
4.     Hi there and thanks again for timely paying your tax bill of $3,397. As the Undersecretary of the Department of Generally Useless Studies and Reports, I thought you might like to know that the entirety of your taxes will be used to review, edit and photocopy our upcoming study: “An enquiry into a possible new public slogan for the Department of Generally Useless Studies and Reports.” If you’d like a copy of the final report, let us know and we’ll add the $19.95 charge onto your tax bill for next year.
5.     Hello. I’m N. Trenched Incumbent, the Representative for Kicking Pig Pass, Montana. You’ve done your part to make America great so I want to let you know what your tax contribution means to us, the members of the House Standing Committee on Alcohol, Tobacco and Medical Marijuana. Your payment of $5,409 will finance the purchase of twelve new chairs so that we can henceforth become the Sitting Committee on Alcohol, Tobacco and Medical Marijuana. Just kidding, of course; we’re using the money to finance a work-study retreat in Colorado.

6.     I’m former Representative Aaron Schock of Illinois and I want to thank you for ponying up your share of our national tax bill to the tune of $734. While I am saddened to see that your taxable income is that low, I want you to know that even your meager payment helped our government be the best government it could be. In my case, you can take personal satisfaction in knowing that, thanks to you, I was able to purchase a humidor and an umbrella stand for the “Downton Abbey” makeover of my former Congressional office.