Should You Be Able to Say Where Your Taxes Go?

June 9, 2014 | By: TaxCure Staff

say-in-where-taxes-goIt’s a common refrain: I wish my taxes didn’t pay for that!

Many of us look at the way the government spends taxpayer dollars, and wish that it went elsewhere. Of course, it’s impossible to please everyone. We live in a country with millions of citizens, and there are multiple opinions about how each dollar that the government collects should be used.

While many people wouldn’t argue that tax dollars need to be spent on roads and bridges, and on paying the police force and maintaining military defense, there are a number of expenditures that people are unhappy with. What you would like to see money spent on often depends on your principles and priorities. No matter what the money is spent on, there is bound to be someone who is unhappy with the decision.

Increasingly, though, there are those who feel that taxpayers should have a little more direct say in how revenues should be spent.

Where Should Your Tax Dollars Go?

There are already some examples of tax dollars earmarked for specific purposes. We pay Medicare taxes as part of our payroll taxes in order to shore up the fund so that we have access to basic health care as we age. A similar process is used for collecting Social Security taxes from workers. These are taxes that are designed for a specific purpose, and that are collected each time you are paid.

In some cases, a referendum might be held to determine what a local government should do with some of its tax revenues. In my city, there wasn’t recently a vote held on whether or not to increase local taxes a little bit to help fund cultural and arts experiences. There was also small tax proposed designed to help the transportation system. In these cases, you have some say in whether or not a tax is adopted. And, of course, you indirectly determine where tax dollars are spent when you elect representatives to Congress. These politicians are supposed to fight to spend the money in a way that is in line with what their constituents want.

Theories vary as to how much leeway citizens could have. Some say that you might be able to dictate where 50 percent of your tax bill goes, while others say it makes more sense to limit it to 20 or 30 percent of your tax bill. In either case, you would be able to have some say as to what, exactly, your tax dollars are funding. It might provide you with a little peace of mind, and it could also give lawmakers an idea of where the nation’s priorities truly are.