After taxes

Conservatives jumped all over President-elect Bill Clinton in the days following his 1992 election victory when he claimed the possible need for a “broad-based contribution” from taxpayers to sustain his bold agenda. A “broad-based contribution” to the Clintonians on their way to Washington spelled tax increase to most Americans.

Now we have Fairfax, Virginia’s richest county, asking for contributions literally. Inserted in real estate tax bills this spring along with its more than 800,000 personal property tax bills will be a request for donations from residents to support the county’s schools, libraries and parks.

Fairfax is about to go through its yearly ritual of trying to balance its county budget which is supported heavily by homeowners paying real estate taxes with sky high assessments. Sounds familiar. This year, instead of giving to local charities, Fairfax County officials hope residents will give money to them. Actually the money will be funded through non-profit agencies to help the schools, parks and libraries but it still reflects the sad state of affairs north of the Occoquan.

While some Fairfax officials have pondered the idea of becoming a city to better tax its residents, there should be equal consideration to splitting this behemoth county into two parts. With more than 1 million residents, its bureaucracy has become too big to function as a single county under Virginia’s definition of the term.

Meanwhile, if Fairfax really wants to encourage its residents to give until it hurts if they’re not hurting already there should be some incentives involved. Perhaps a $100 contribution to the school system would get your kid front-of-the line privileges during lunch or a reserved seat on the school bus. A similar donation would give taxpayers instant amnesty on overdue library books.

While we’re on the topic of contributions, maybe the state will use this method to collect more money and provide drivers front-of the line-privileges at DMV for a $100 contribution.

The lesson here is simple: People who are taxed too much are rarely charitable toward their government.

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