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That's not what I meant

December 30, 2010

Villanova tax prof blogger Jim Maule ponders the Yale law profs who have set up a web site "Give it Back for Jobs" for "the rich" to give their savings from the recent Bush-era tax rate extension to charity:

Several commentators have suggested that those who wish to decline the tax cut they otherwise would receive should return it to the United States Treasury. Joe Kristan, over at Tax Update Blog, in You First, Buddy notes, "They are all worthy charities, but they do nothing for the entity most harmed by the tax cuts: the government."

I sure didn't mean to say that anyone should give extra cash to the government. While you should pay all of the taxes you owe, the idea of throwing a penny more than required into the federal fiscal cesspit is absurd -- so absurd that the Yale profs didn't even suggest it. The implied conclusion is that money that goes to the government won't be as well-spent as money given to charity. And as much as the founders of "Give it back for Jobs" may regret it, their implied conclusion is correct.

UPDATE: David Henderson at Econlog:

So what are Jacob Hacker et al telling us? That they think those four charities will spend the money more wisely than the government would. I agree. I think it's much better to give to the Salvation Army, for example, than to keep the troops in Iraq an extra day. That argues for more choice and lower taxes, not for higher taxes.

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If it's for jobs, wouldn't it be more useful to take the money and hire some people? Or give it as a grant directly to a small business that wants to hire people but can't afford to? An argument could be made that with all the payroll taxes and hiring requirements the government is doing more to discourage jobs than create them.

An argument could indeed be so made. And it would be convincing.

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