Voluntary Taxes
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03-07-2011, 09:22 AM
 
Voluntary Taxes
It seems like a big issue in politics is where tax money goes. If people prefer private healthcare instead of universal healthcare, for example, it seems unfair for the government to force them to accept government-run healthcare. It also seems incredibly unjust for people who can't afford the high costs of some medical procedures to be denied treatment that we have the means to provide. So, to resolve some of these issues, do you think it would be possible for the government (I'm not worrying about actually passing it into law, just whether it could work if it was enacted) to create a voluntary tax system?

Everybody has to pay for infrastructure, police, firefighters, etc. These government services that need to be available to everybody wouldn't be optional. A base tax, which would just be a certain percentage of one's income will be required for this.

When it comes to social programs, such as welfare, healthcare, etc. people would have a choice. If somebody wants the government to provide them with healthcare coverage, or if they just want to contribute to government-run healthcare, then they can opt-in when filing their taxes and it increases the % of their money they must pay in taxes. Same would go for all other programs that can be restricted to people who just wish to pay for them.

An issue I see with a system like this is that poorer people are much more likely to opt-in to these programs because they need them, but people who are well off probably won't want to pay for them. So the programs would probably fail because they aren't well-funded, and it would not satisfy democrats or socialists, just some economic conservatives.

Have ideas like this been proposed before? And are there any workable, voluntary taxation systems? It seems like something that could satisfy capitalists and socialists if done right. I just don't know if there is a way to do it right.

I just like the idea of making these things voluntary because it would allow the government to fund social programs without forcing everyone to pay for them. And if the government does a shitty job of running these programs, less people will fund them. It would hopefully add an incentive for them to be efficient and not waste the money they're given. I know this probably wouldn't work in practice, but some of it sounds nice in theory Tongue
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03-07-2011, 10:34 AM
RE: Voluntary Taxes
I actually really like the idea of preferential taxation, and I do think it would be possible to impliment with enough public support. It would have to be very simplified, and without exclusions. For example, create five categories, and when you do your taxes, you would rate each from one to five in terms of what you see as a priority. So if you thought health care should be supported, you would rate that as #1 and the category in which it falls would be given a higher percentage of your tax dollars than, say, roadwork, which would fall under another category that you rated #5. So healthcare would recieve 50% of your tax dollars, while roadwork would only recieve 10%. (Numbers are totally made up. It would take a lot of research to figure out what would work best)

Your taxes would support everything, but you would be able to decide what you thought would best be benefited, and recieve a higher percentage. This could also be doubled as an effective means of data gathering. The information would be easy to use to determine what citizens prioritize, in what areas, etc. Plus it would be much more representative of a nation than just taking a sampling of the population. Of course, I am no politician, and I'm DEFINITELY no accountant, but I would think that as long as it was kept simple, it would be effective without eliminating less popular services.

You could, say, only make this choice applicable to income tax, and any other taxes collected would be distributed the same as always. Of course the government could then use those other taxes to balance things back to the way they see fit, but they would also know what is wanted by the people who vote for them. If nothing else, it would be an extremely effective way of polling the populace and finding out some valuable information, while getting people more involved with their government. Possibly just a first step towards a government that works for us, instead of us working for the government. The government should fear the people, not the other way around.

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03-07-2011, 03:26 PM
 
RE: Voluntary Taxes
(03-07-2011 10:34 AM)Stark Raving Wrote:  The government should fear the people, not the other way around.

Good point, I was thinking more along the lines of keeping social programs while not forcing people opposed to them to contribute. Giving the taxpayers control over how their money is spent will make politicians think much more carefully before they waste that money and do a lousy job. But I still think people should be allowed to not pay for certain services at all. For example if someone wishes to send their kid to a private school because they don't like the public school system, are against government-funded education, or whatever their reason is; I don't think they should be forced to pay for the public schools.

The system you described seems perfect for anything that is deemed necessary though. Defense, infrastructure, etc. benefit everyone whether they like it or not, and they need to contribute if they wish to use the roads and be protected by the military and police. But many people, myself among them, think that defending our country doesn't require quite as much money as we spend on the military. That kind of system would be a great solution to problems like this.

And I should have specified that I just intended this for income taxes.
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03-07-2011, 04:22 PM
RE: Voluntary Taxes
There is a few flaws in your system. People really can't decide where their tax dollars go if they have no idea about our government works programs. Also, most Americans don't give a flying crap about the government, so we would end up with massive problems if this was actually implemented.

Also, about your little quip about the military, unless you served or worked closely with military personnel (like a civilian contractor) you really don't know how the military is funded, or how much money is really needed. I am not in support of uneducated civilians calling the shots for something they can't even begin to comprehend. Explain to me how military finance works, and I'll listen to your opinion.

I totally believe in power to the people, and I do think we should have more of a voice in Washington, but there is a reason we have actual economists work out the tax situation, not Joe the plumber.

Like you said, your idea seems nice on paper, but when coupled with a large and generally lackadaisical and indifferent populace, it's just not very good.

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03-07-2011, 06:25 PM
RE: Voluntary Taxes
Zach,

I think the problem is, as you have said yourself, funding. Government healthcare would become flooded by people who have long-term health issues and are a massive drain on funds whereas as people who were fit and healthy would opt out until they had some form of health problem.

Stark,

I think that you have also highlighted your own problem in that if only income tax is subject to your scheme then any Government can just work other taxes around that negating any effect. It would work well as a way of polling peoples opinions on spending but there could be an outcry from people who don't want to polled in such a way (for some reason in England people get WAY to upset about benign stuff like that, I don't know the feelings in America).

I agree with monkeyshine that the other problem is that most people simply don't know enough about how Government spending works to make an informed decision. Most people would decide based on hearsay in the media without thinking through actual implications. Unlike everyone else I'm quite against society having power, I would prefer to keep power out of the hands of the general public as I think that many people are too naive/thick to be trusted to contribute to the running of the country.

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03-07-2011, 06:29 PM
 
RE: Voluntary Taxes
(03-07-2011 04:22 PM)monkeyshine89 Wrote:  There is a few flaws in your system. People really can't decide where their tax dollars go if they have no idea about our government works programs. Also, most Americans don't give a flying crap about the government, so we would end up with massive problems if this was actually implemented.

Also, about your little quip about the military, unless you served or worked closely with military personnel (like a civilian contractor) you really don't know how the military is funded, or how much money is really needed. I am not in support of uneducated civilians calling the shots for something they can't even begin to comprehend. Explain to me how military finance works, and I'll listen to your opinion.

I totally believe in power to the people, and I do think we should have more of a voice in Washington, but there is a reason we have actual economists work out the tax situation, not Joe the plumber.

Like you said, your idea seems nice on paper, but when coupled with a large and generally lackadaisical and indifferent populace, it's just not very good.

I don't know anything about military finances, and if I'm completely wrong in my assumption that we spend too much on it I apologize for my ignorance. I just remember it being a huge chunk of the total tax money, and I can't imagine how it would be necessary to spend such a massive amount of money in order to keep ourselves and our allies safe when no other country seems to need anywhere near what it costs us. Looking at Wikipedia, we beat the next ten countries combined last year, might even be the next 20. I don't see what's so special about the United States that we require that much more money than everyone else to run our military, that's all.

And I do agree that the idea I proposed is flawed, although it's really too vague to be much of an idea at all. I'm just interested in whether we could construct a tax system that gives the government less power over everyone, and gives people more of a choice for what they pay for.
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04-07-2011, 09:54 AM
RE: Voluntary Taxes
I just read over my note and I hope you didn't get the idea that I thought you were unqualified or uneducated, I was just talking about the majority of Americans.

Actually, I do believe the military budget is over inflated, but it's not for reasons that the media usually calls them out for... the government makes contracts with other companies to build our tanks, airplanes, and the parts for everything else. Now the terrible thing is we had corrupt government officials write these contracts and the laws that go with them. So we get locked into these contracts, and the companies (such as Lockheed Martin) raise their prices hugely on simple things, like nuts and bolts. To be honest we are spending so much money on nuts and bolts that we cannot afford the things we need, like new aircraft, or actual raises on DoD employees paychecks.

I actually served myself (though I usually hate saying it on the internet, usually only posers will talk about their service online), and my husband is serving now. We don't need a budget cut in the military, we need an overhaul at the pentagon...

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04-07-2011, 11:16 AM
 
RE: Voluntary Taxes
(04-07-2011 09:54 AM)monkeyshine89 Wrote:  I just read over my note and I hope you didn't get the idea that I thought you were unqualified or uneducated, I was just talking about the majority of Americans.

Actually, I do believe the military budget is over inflated, but it's not for reasons that the media usually calls them out for... the government makes contracts with other companies to build our tanks, airplanes, and the parts for everything else. Now the terrible thing is we had corrupt government officials write these contracts and the laws that go with them. So we get locked into these contracts, and the companies (such as Lockheed Martin) raise their prices hugely on simple things, like nuts and bolts. To be honest we are spending so much money on nuts and bolts that we cannot afford the things we need, like new aircraft, or actual raises on DoD employees paychecks.

I actually served myself (though I usually hate saying it on the internet, usually only posers will talk about their service online), and my husband is serving now. We don't need a budget cut in the military, we need an overhaul at the pentagon...

That's quite alright, I am unqualified and uneducated when it comes to government finances Tongue

You have a good point about the issue being corruption and poor management. Addressing that would go a long way towards fixing some of the real problems in government, and voluntary taxes probably wouldn't fix it.

I do think that the potential for less funding from tax money would give them an incentive to show the public that they're spending their money wisely, but that probably wouldn't work out as you and Hughsie said.
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06-07-2011, 08:01 AM (This post was last modified: 06-07-2011 11:40 AM by TrainWreck.)
RE: Voluntary Taxes
(03-07-2011 09:22 AM)Zach Wrote:  It seems like a big issue in politics is where tax money goes. . .
As of recently, because the financial system is in collapse, and the Democrats insist that universal healthcare is the answer to all social problems - if people do not have to worry about healthcare then they are free to think about being better people.

(03-07-2011 09:22 AM)Zach Wrote:  It also seems incredibly unjust for people who can't afford the high costs of some medical procedures to be denied treatment that we have the means to provide.
. . . And we have the means to provide everyone with a car and a house - where does it end?

(03-07-2011 09:22 AM)Zach Wrote:  Everybody has to pay for infrastructure, police, firefighters, etc. These government services that need to be available to everybody wouldn't be optional. A base tax, which would just be a certain percentage of one's income will be required for this. . . When it comes to social programs, such as welfare, healthcare, etc. people would have a choice.
Of course you are aware of my advocacy for states' rights and proportional voting. We have to figure out what level of government is responsible for what services - whole system has to be overhauled. And this is basically my reason for championing atheists to step up and figure out how to do it. The whole attempt at figuring it out is going to have to start at very small, if not individual, organizational committees, because such stuff is so complex it is very difficult to balance the deliberation of ideas amongst many different people - the person, or committee, that comes up with the most comprehensive overhaul package has the best chance of incorporating new, or better ideas, that emerge from others who review the overhaul package. But expecting to designate a committee to figure it out is not going to work - the people have to be sincerely dedicated to the cause of figuring it all out.

Along with the expenses of the federal government workers, including the military, I suggest that federal taxes be used to meet baseline needs of things such as the infrastructures as you describe. The state and local taxes would be responsible for meeting an elevated level, or expansion, of those infrastructures. What I mean by this, is how it is supposed to be, feds pay for interstates, states pay for state roads, and cities pay for streets; but of course, the cities need help.

When it comes to healthcare, the feds would assure the funding for baseline equipment only - not the human resource of care. Then the states are responsible for the structures and baseline care (stabilization of injured). And the local gvmnts and prvt organizations would be responsible for the death panels, and a lot of other stuff, like elevated levels of care and equipment. This should help stabilize the population according to the actual needs of the local communities. Eventually, it will always comes down to the financial worth of the infirmmed, and that has to be a local level decision - that is what insurance companies do anyway.

And by the way, all elected officials will only be paid by their sponsoring organizations. So, if the politician is a representative of Atheist Republicans, he has to go to the Atheists and Republicans for his pay - the government level may be responsible for his housing only, but don't expect much. As far as I can see the federal gvmnt does not owe the elected officials any more per diem then it allots for the military. if the representative believes they deserve better then they need to get it from their constituent organizations.

(03-07-2011 09:22 AM)Zach Wrote:  And if the government does a shitty job of running these programs, less people will fund them. It would hopefully add an incentive for them to be efficient and not waste the money they're given.
That is how we, Republicans, see it; but the problem is the Democrats do not believe the federal government can do anything wrong - it's only because of a lack of money that the workforce of the government is inept.

The problem with the federal gvmnt workforce is a lack of economic oversight - there is a lot of abuse of funds because 'management,' is made up of flunkies, who do not care because the money keeps a coming from the tax payers no matter what. Where as, private organization of work compels the proprietor and management to be as economical as possible.

Humanism - ontological doctrine that posits that humans define reality
Theism - ontological doctrine that posits a supernatural entity creates and defines reality
Atheism - political doctrine opposed to theist doctrine in public policy
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06-07-2011, 04:13 PM
RE: Voluntary Taxes
(06-07-2011 08:01 AM)TrainWreck Wrote:  As of recently, because the financial system is in collapse, and the Democrats insist that universal healthcare is the answer to all social problems

No.

(06-07-2011 08:01 AM)TrainWreck Wrote:  That is how we, Republicans, see it; but the problem is the Democrats do not believe the federal government can do anything wrong

No.

I don't particularly care to comment on your other points, because I don't care much about politics. But the two quoted points are quite simply false. If they aren't outright lies, then they are at least indicators of ignorance, and I would encourage you to look at what the other side is actually saying.

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