Thank You, Mr. Taxpayer
I rarely burden my millireaders with political issues or current events. There's far too much present in all of our lives, and not nearly enough past and future. But there was a bit of a happening yesterday: President Trump's abbreviated tax return was "leaked."*
A copy of Trump's 2005 tax return summary somehow landed on a reporter's desk, and it disclosed that he paid $38 million in taxes that year. As far as we know, this is the amount he was obliged by the intersection of law and accountancy to pay, not some random amount funneled into a tank car strategically positioned on the tracks beneath his money-bin drain valve. While it is most likely that he kept even more for himself, he did contribute this amount to the United States Treasury. In other words, to you and to me.
Even today that's a lot of money. It could be used to re-pave miles of our benighted road infrastructure, buy 4 million packs of stroopwafels** at list price, purchase a really nice New York City apartment,*** or, most importantly, pay for this
Proposed New Government Program
I call it the "Thank You Letter Program" and it's simple enough that even USDUC probably won't manage to pervert it. No cabinet secretary, no inspector general, just a director, small staff, and a contractor with a computer, some stamps, and maybe a small warehouse.
Scratch a taxpayer and you'll find someone who wonders "What am I getting for my federal taxes"? If one were to answer literally, he might suggest such things as the common defense, air traffic control, The Smithsonian, some arts, subsidized solar panels (that would be me!), and, of course, paving on the interstate. This is just a start! I'm sure that, with further consideration he might think of more himself. But Mr. Taxpayer has never, ever received any communication from the government that didn't contain a threat, a demand, a requirement, or a warning of some sort. Let's remedy that!
The Mission of the Thank You Letter Directorate
Each year, the Internal Revenue Service would be authorized by congressional action to deliver to the Directorate a list of citizens who paid taxes. An indication of the amount could be coded in decimal steps by a single letter - A for under $1000 to, say, G for the very few individuals who have paid over $1 billion. The millions of As would get just a form letter, by email if possible, thanking them for their payment, the Bs the same but by post with maybe a "signature" with a different ink color. As we ascend the payment scale a certificate or even a scroll might be sent. The Es might, along with an ornate scroll get a small package of chocolate or even some stroopwafels if the balance of payments can handle it. The Fs, a Godiva gift basket. For the tiny number Gs, pull out all the stops, send an aircraft to pick them up, and have the Director him- or herself give them a tour of the Smithsonian at government expense.
Although I think $38 million will cover the whole program, it could be self-liquidating or even profitable. Imagine if you're obliged to pay only $999 million in taxes. Wouldn't you kick in an extra million for the networking opportunity on that charter flight?
Am I Being Realistic?
Of course not. As wonderful as the $38 million or so of thank-you notes will make the taxpayers feel, there are so many other ways the money can be spent. Modesty and the fear of torches and pitchforks prevents me from propounding my own suggestions. Nonetheless, I would like to thank President Trump for his $38 million even if I personally receive no specific emolument for my pro-rated share.