In our current issue, Ethan Porter, former managing editor of Democracy, and David Kendall, senior fellow for health and fiscal policy for Third Way, introduced the idea of a taxpayer receipt: a personalized receipt that would break down for taxpayers where their tax dollars went. It turns out the White House may have been paying attention.
Today, the White House unveiled its own version of a taxpayer receipt in time for Tax Day. The receipt asks users to enter their federal, Medicare, and Social Security taxes. It then automatically breaks down where those dollars went, similar to the taxpayer receipt calculator that Third Way launched to coincide with the publication of Porter and Kendall’s piece.
But the White House’s move isn’t the only sign that Washington likes the idea. Last month, Sens. Bill Nelson and Scott Brown introduced the “Taxpayer Receipt Act,” which would require the IRS to send itemized receipts to all taxpayers–exactly what Porter and Kendall propose.
In their piece, Porter and Kendall write, “Rather than simply demanding tax cuts—or hikes, for that matter—we can work to open the tax system up, to show taxpayers how it works and where their money goes.” By giving taxpayers more information about where their tax dollars go, a receipt can elevate our discourse by exploding myths about the budget and ensuring that we start our fiscal debates from the same premises.
It’s a good idea, which is why we published it–and why we’re pleased our leaders are noticing as well.