Tax Reform and an Educated Citizenry: End Automatic Withholding

More Oregonians involved in government. More citizens informed about what they get for all the tax dollars spent by government. Many community leaders and editorials wonder how we can accomplish these goals. The answer: Stop the automatic withholding of income taxes from workers’ paychecks.

This idea offers three major benefits. First, people would be reminded that the money they earn is theirs. Second, employers would no longer be forced to serve as tax collectors and finally, more citizens would take a keen interest in what state government does.How does the third benefit arise?

Instead of automatic withholding, individuals would be required to pay income taxes all at one time. Charlotte A. Twight, PhD, writes in her book, Dependent on DC, “Suppose that we eliminated mandatory withholding and instead required taxpayers to send in checks on April 15″¦. To write a single check for the full amount”¦would remarkably focus the taxpayer’s mind on the cost of government. Instead of associating April 15 with a potential refund, taxpayers would view it as visibly reducing their bank account”¦..”

As the bumpersticker reads, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” For some time, too many Oregonians have not gotten the civics lesson they deserve for the high price they’re paying. However, when we end automatic withholding of income taxes, and Oregonians render unto Caesar his tribute but once a year, you can bet We the People will get real smart real quick.

Kurt T. Weber is vice president of Portland-based Total Consulting Strategies and Senior Advisor to State Policy Network.

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