Taxes and Fees… or: Fees Instead of Taxes
Work with me here…
I started with this article on 529 plans. Essentially the White House decided to back off taxing 529 plans because, well, because it was a dumb idea. For all the claims that they want to enable kids to go to school, the idea of hitting people who were smart enough to save for a kid to go to school was probably the easiest way to deter kids going to school. And I get that not everyone can supposedly save. I also get that punishing people who can is the worst way to increase any savings rate.
But this comes back to something I’ve thought of on occasion. Here’s an example. According to this document, the total National Parks budget is $3.6B (give or take). That says that every person in the us pays about $10 a year to run the parks. How do we remove the burden for the parks service from the normal tax burden on the average citizen and put it more on the backs of the people who actually use the park? First, you’d have to actually make the parks run like a business… you can’t dump all the central federal funding, but about $2.6B of that total is discretionary, so that’s a start for the target. Then you drive the fees up to go into the parks drastically, and run a funding campaign on everyone donating $10 a year to support the parks. Say you get an average of $10 a family, (who pays this tax-free), which still leaves you severely underfunded… so fees to actually get in likely go to $200 a day or so for actual visitors. Or for $1000 you get free access annually. That’s still a lot of people that need to move through the system, but it starts to drive a streamlining of the system.
It’s not workable, and I’d have to spend more than five minutes looking through the report. But my point is… what if we gave people a ton of their money back and actually let them pay to use formerly taxpayer-funded resources as a super-tax?
I suppose the biggest losers in this would be social work programs, but then again, a lot of people think that social work programs are the worst part of government spending anyway.
Hmm, I have to think about this more…