What If You Could Choose Where Your Tax Dollars Go?

What If You Could Choose Where Your Tax Dollars Go?

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If you have read any of the past work on Young, Dumb, and NOT Broke?! then you have probably caught on to the fact that I despise taxes. I can’t stand them. Every two weeks, I see my paystub and the amount that is taken out makes me feel sick. It feels like my hard-earned dollars are being stolen from me.

But I’m a man of reason. I understand why we do it and I don’t want you to get me wrong. I don’t mind paying my fair share of important things.

For example, I use public roads every single day and I appreciate it when they’re not riddled with potholes. I’m thankful that I can call the fire department if my house is on fire.

Here’s my beef with taxes. There are major deficiencies in our country. I wish my tax dollars would be going to fix the problems that I feel are most important. In most cases, our tax money is allotted to those departments, but the amount isn’t what I would have hoped or chosen.

This got me thinking.

What if you could choose where your tax dollars went the same way you order food at a restaurant?

Where Your Tax Dollars Go Now

Here is the thing, most of us have no clue where our tax dollars go. We just pay them and don’t give it a second thought. Just look at all of the different ways we are paying taxes…

  • Federal income tax
  • State income tax
  • Local income tax
  • Property tax
  • Social security tax
  • Medicare tax
  • Sales tax
  • Utility tax
  • Gift tax
  • Gasoline tax

The list goes on and on. Seriously, the list is hundreds of items long and you can check them out here.

My point is we have no idea where our tax dollars go especially at a state and local level. At a federal level, we have an idea but only by category and let’s be real, that’s isn’t telling us much.

According to the National Priorities Project here are how your 2018 federal tax dollars were split up:

Now just imagine if you were able to say “Part of my tax money went to the new park downtown and now I’m able to walk the loop on my lunch break.” Wouldn’t it be satisfying to know without a doubt that you’re benefiting from your taxes?

Picking And Choosing Where Your Tax Dollars Go

Now I know it has been a while since you ordered food off a menu. The last couple of months have been hard and eating frozen pizzas 3x a week is actually starting to get old (never thought I’d say that). But work with me here, and think back to when you used to actually sit down at a restaurant and order food.

You had appetizers, soups, salads, main courses, desserts, drinks, and so on. The choices and combinations were endless so why can’t we do this with how our tax bill is split up? No matter what items you choose, you’re benefiting the restaurant by purchasing with your hard-earned cash AND you’re getting something you want/need in return.

If it hasn’t been completely obvious over the last couple of months, we’re going to say it now. Every person values and views things of the world differently. I personally am all for individual freedoms, namely, let the people choose what they want to do with their money.

Think about it this way: We already file our taxes every year. It’s mandatory. So what would it hurt to add one more page with 50 categories and you put a certain percentage next to the ones you want to fund?

As long as the percentages add up to 100%, you’re done. I believe that our country is diverse enough that all areas would be funded and you would have a more realistic representation of what the people want their money to go to.

If you want to support the military, you could put 100% of your money there. If you want to put a portion of your tax dollars to art, and another to education then go right ahead. The point is that the choice is yours.

What I Would Choose

That’s a little complex. To answer this question fully I would want to give a lot of thought to it and list out every option I could think of. There are many things that I think need to be improved, but I don’t necessarily think throwing more money at it will do the trick. For instance, criminal justice reform and health insurance. In my opinion, those departments need legislation changes to make them work smoothly. But there are two places where I would allot more of my tax dollars to instantly.

The first is public education. I’m going to speak bluntly here. The public education system is broken. It’s a combination of a lack of resources, a flawed system, and inadequate training. It is mind-boggling to think that a teacher who spends 8 hours a day with our children, makes less than $50,000 a year, and STILL has to buy all of their own materials for their classroom.

America prides itself on being one of the richest, most successful countries in the world. How can we still be allowing this to happen? Give the public schools my money. I appreciate the idea that my money is going right to the future of our country; the next generation.

Secondly, in my opinion, affordable housing should be a priority. Most major cities are rotting from the inside out so why aren’t we doing something about it? Instead of investing back into our community, we are forcing people to either pay $1,500/month for a single bedroom apartment or live on the street.

The disparity between the ultra rich and the population below the poverty line is growing every minute and the housing crisis is a perfect example of that. I’m all for personal success and making a lot of money, but I don’t believe that we as a country should allow our population to suffer if we can afford to help. That again, makes no sense.

The Bottom Line

It’s a long established fact that taxes are going to be a part of our world. And when they’re allocated properly, they are for the greater good.

All I want to do is introduce a different idea of how our system could work. I know that I would always like to have more control over my money. America was built on freedom so why not let the people be free to choose where their money goes?

What are your thoughts? Do you think this is a crazy idea? Where would you like your tax dollars to go? Shoot me a tweet @Shelbygrosch and remember there are no wrong answers!

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