Thursday, February 13, 2003

CLT and the Voluntary Tax Check-off

This week, I wrote an editorial promoting the Voluntary Tax Check-off on Mass. state tax returns in The Winchester Star [full text below] and Citizen for Limited Taxation sent it out to their list:
Anthony Schinella, a subscriber to this list, wrote the Winchester Star editorial highlighting our voluntary tax check-off. We thank Tony for getting out the word to those who insisted they "didn't need or want" a tax cut. He has provided a constructive community service. Now those who lost the Question 4 battle can also be winners -- by paying 5.85 percent -- along with those of us who'll pay 5.3 percent!
My pleasure, CLT. Those people who want to pay more taxes should be able to, and you have provided them an outlet to do so. Me? I want to pay 5 percent and no more. Let them run the state with what they have.

Editorial: Voluntary tax check-off

During the next few weeks, the subject of filing taxes will be on the mind of just about everyone. By law, employers have already sent residents their W-2 and 1099 earnings forms.

Until April 15, many of us will be tinkering with our calculators - or spending money on accountants - in attempt to figure out the best way to get most of our money back.

But the difference between filing this year and last year is that taxpayers will have the opportunity to choose to give the state more money, through a voluntary tax check-off.

The voluntary tax check-off is the brainchild of the Citizens for Limited Taxation [CLT]. The taxpayer watchdog organization is the same group that has passed many initiative petitions such as Proposition 2 1/2 legislation, and worked hard to fight waste, fraud, and abuse in government.

In 1998, while promoting the Income Tax Rollback to 5 percent, CLT also put forth a clever solution for those people who did not support cutting taxes - a voluntary tax check-off.

The logic and beauty of the check-off is simple: If you want to pay more for state services, feel free. Check it off and part of your refund will divert back to the state. It is the same for those people who want to make a donation to the Clean Elections Fund or other programs offered on the state income tax forms. The option allows advocates who support increased state spending to put their money where their mouths are, in an effort to avert the "budget crisis."

Not surprisingly, few taxpayers have voluntarily given more money to the state.

According to published reports only 20 out of the 234,000 tax filers have taken advantage of the check-off. This number is shockingly low when you consider that millions of people voted against the income tax rollback as well as the 2000 initiative petition to eliminate the income tax altogether.

But it also shows the hypocrisy of most taxpayers who would gladly take your money to pay for their pet projects and programs, but refuse to open their own checkbooks.

In the end, the choice is yours: If you want the state to have more money to spend, use the voluntary tax check-off. If you don't, back efforts to find accountability on Beacon Hill with the $21 billion they already take from us.