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Wednesday, March 26, 1975

Gifts to Government

Published: Toronto Star, page B4

Hearing the suggestion that the gift of a swimming pool to the Prime Minister had been ruled to be a gift to the crown and hence was tax deductible aroused a fantasy in my mind as to how the Government of Canada might become more responsive to the people. I must admit that this fantasy arose from my misunderstanding of the news item — I thought that the gift was to be in lieu of taxes rather than merely a deduction from income.
Anyway, I thought "Why Not?" Let gifts to the government be acceptable in lieu of taxes. That way one could support the government services each of us thought useful.
Instead of just a minute fraction of my own tax dollar going to social services for example, I could, by donating a gift to the appropriate department, make sure that my whole tax dollar went to the services that I wanted. In this way each of us could support the services he or she wanted.
All the retired colonels who crave for a military presence in the Arctic could club together and pool their tax-gift to raise a regiment for the defence department. Those who cry for law and order could earmark their gifts for the RCMP; others could specify their gift as support far the unemployed.
This has a glorious. anarchic ring to it — everyone paying for his own thing. My own guess is that under such a system there would be little actual change in the budgetary allocation — there is enough diversity of interest in the country.
There would of course be no reduction in the total sum received by the government. The difference would be that we might be more satisfied with paying our taxes; we would be paying for things that we wanted the government to provide rather than for things government wanted us to have.
Still, government would never permit such anarchy. Maybe they could keep some control by limiting the proportion of tax payment we could earmark in this way or by offering us bargains—when a department was failing to meet its budget and the government wished to maintain that budget then they might offer a $1.10 tax credit for each gift of $1 to that department.
This system, of course, provides a strong incentive for the government to perform In terms of its programs: those that are successful will continue to draw gift support, those that fail will not.
Just maybe, the government should give anarchy a try.
Griffith Evans is a Toronto Teacher

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