Where do tax dollars go? The idealistic—and probably hopeless—plan to educate Americans about the budget by sending them itemized…

Commentary about business and finance.
April 15 2011 5:10 PM

Can I Get a Receipt for That?

An idealistic—and probably hopeless—plan to educate Americans about the budget by sending them itemized "tax receipts."

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"With a well-designed receipt, myths and misconceptions about taxing and spending that refuse to die would be met with a mortal blow," Third Way's think-tankers wrote, proposing the taxpayer receipt. To boot, they noted, it would cost only about $15 million. (The White House's online calculator works pretty well and presumably cost far, far less than that.)

Still, not all good ideas prove revolutionary—and misconceptions die hard. Maybe sending a receipt to Americans' homes or inboxes will make them take a close look at it, softening their resistance to Social Security cuts and wondering why we don't spend more on schools. But really, who ever reads receipts?