Last week, President Clinton unveiled a wish list of new tax credits that he would like to see enacted by Congress'Congress, in the form of Bill Archer, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee (the group responsible for writing our “simple” tax laws), replied that since 2000 is an election year, there probably wouldn’t be any major tax legislation passed for a while'After all, we wouldn’t want any of our elected representatives voting on controversial tax laws in a year when their constituents are actually paying attention to what they are doing.
Anyway, one of my favorite tax credits that our President is pushing for is a $10 credit for people who file their tax return electronically'Representative Archer’s response to this credit was, “What’s next? A tax credit for good penmanship?” I quite agree'Tax credits may be getting a bit out of hand'But in case Congress wants to seriously consider new and bizarre tax credits, such as the electronic filing credit, here are my nominees for new credits to kick off the millennium:
- A tax credit for parents of children who have perfect attendance at school for the entire school year'If we’re going to develop a nation of new taxpayers, the first thing we need to do is get them educated, so they can learn how to earn a living and pay for the Social Security for all of the hard-working, latent hippie baby boomers'The tax credit checks could be mailed directly to the children, as extra incentive to attend school (as if paying astronomical rates of Social Security tax for the rest of their lives isn’t incentive enough)'
- A tax credit for people who go out and vote'I keep hearing that voter apathy is at an all-time high, but nobody does anything about it'If we’re ever going to get people in office who will pass laws like those suggested in this column, or maybe even try to get people out of office who continue to encourage over-complication of the tax laws, we need to have taxpayers cast their votes in all available elections'Maybe we can’t make voting fun, but at least we can make it lucrative'There are many places in the country (Chicago and Miami come to mind) where people get paid to cast votes'Why not make it a nationwide practice?
- Tax credits for reading books'The Marion County Public Library provides little prizes for children who read books in the summer'All you have to do to get a prize is check out the book, then take it to the librarian and say you read the book (it’s wise to let at least a few hours pass between these two events)'We could extend this policy to a national level and have people list on their tax return all the books they read in the past year'If the IRS doesn’t want to go by the honor system, book reports could be required along with the tax return'
- A weight loss tax credit'Everybody knows that we are the fattest nation on earth'This is evidenced by the fact that the United States is sinking into the ocean faster than any other food-eating country'Many different ploys have been tried to get people to lose weight, like making chocolates that look and feel like chocolate but don’t quite taste like chocolate, and encouraging people to drink milk shakes for lunch every day until they look like Cindy Crawford'I say, pay us to lose weight! This is just one more worthwhile area into which the government ought to get involved'Everybody weighs in on January 1st, then again on December 31st'Let’s have a tax credit for every pound lost'
- These are just a few of the good ideas I have that could go a long way toward making people look forward to filing their tax returns'There’s no rule that says we can’t have tax laws like these'As long as we’re going to keep making the tax laws more complicated, we might as well enjoy ourselves while we do it.
copyright © 2000 Gail Perry - Fun with Taxes