Should people have more direct control over where their taxes go?

Just like the box on the 1040 tax form that allows taxpayers a choice about whether their money will go towards funding presidential campaigns, perhaps there should be more options.

How about a box on whether to give money towards Embryonic Stem Cell research? No longer could the opponents of funding it say “not with my tax dollars!” Those who are adamantly opposed to the idea do not have to fund it.

Those who qualify as Conscientious Objectors to war could choose to use the share of their money that would have gone to the military towards a beneficial domestic program of their choice.

100% control over where your taxes would go would probably be a disaster, but if made it something like 25% of your taxes you could directly control, I think it would be a good thing.

The more precise control we have over how our individual tax dollars are spent the worse things will get.

Filling out the forms will be a nightmare, trying to hammer out a budget will be a nightmare…it’s just a way of putting more and more small decisions up to direct public vote which I think is a great way to bog things down.

We’ve got a representative democracy. I try and vote for people who I feel will do what’s right for us, and their job is to then sort through the jillions of day to day decisions rather than rolling them back onto me.

My tax forms already have spaces for a dozen or two discretionary items. If they’re worthy and yet still underfunded, that should be handled in the budget. I’m also free to cut them a check.

The more complicated these forms are the less likely they are to be used in a halfway intelligent fashion. California ballots are a great example, a couple of years ago the ballot here had something like 187 (no joke, I counted and it was well over 100) different offices, bonds, measures, amendments and other stuff on it. When you have that much administrivia to handle it’s no surpise when people get overwhelmed and don’t make informed decisions, or they just check the first box for everything, or they get so turned off that they do not participate.

So keep the optional “donation” boxes on the tax forms to a minimum (or better yet get rid of 'em) and have our elected officials devote their time to coming up with a decent budget (submitted on time, too, thank you very much CA legislature).

Interesting idea. People having control on how their money is spent… Only the goods and services that they decide will benefit them are paid for by them.

All we need is a name for this new system. I suggest “capitalism”. It’s got a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

Capitalism really falls short when describing the government.

I’ve been thinking about this myself as well. I think it’s a great idea and will really begin to show the will of the people, but there are some significant hurdles. As stated, the papework would be a nightmare. If there was anything that was more than, “Defense, Schools, Farm Subsidies…” then it would quickly turn into a thousand-page quagmire. Then, we’d get some really skewed shit like people throwing all of their money into either defense or education, leaving some of the necessary infrastructure requirements underfunded (not that they probably aren’t already).

Then, if one agency loses its funding one year, they’ll get reclassified the next and all of the sudden, you’ll have farm subsidies listed under Homeland Security.

If one left an option to do so on the tax form, the amount of people who actually chose to do this would most likely be so insignificant that it wouldn’t be worth the government’s time to try it in the first place (you think the IRS would be around after the first year?).

So, it’s a good idea in theory, but I think it’s entirely impossible.

This is one of those ideas with a lot of emotional appeal, but which takes very little analysis to demonstrate that it would be bad policy. Simply put, our federal income tax structure is such that the vast majoirty of taxes are paid by a small minority of people. You would essentially be giving rich people extra votes (a LOT of extra votes) and taking votes away from poor people. Sure, everyone could still vote for his/her representatives, but no policy can be implemented if it can’t be funded.

The only way this could work is if everyone paid the same amount in taxes-- not the same percentage, the same exact amount. But even then, I still think it’s bad policy to expect voters to be educated on all the details and nuances that go into budgeting decisions. We would be better served by holding our representatives more responsible for the spending they endorse.

No, it’s not a good idea “in theory” - or anywhere else.

Everything’s connected. You want to fund Homeland Security? Then you also need to fund education related to security and infrastructure (water, power plants, etc). You need to fund immigration management. You need to fund technology to process information (like datamining). You need to fund intelligence to collect the information to process. You need to fund medical contingency plans. etc, etc.

None of the above has anything to do with Homeland Security, yet HS cannot exist without it.

As as experiment, I suggest the OP applies his theory to a household: A father, a mother, an uncle, two grandparents and two kids. Let’s say for the sake of the experiment that all the adults are making money. Everyone has to drop 30% of what they make in the bucket, but can decide how the money will be spent. How would that turn out? Anyone?