Today, U.S. Representatives Mike Quigley (D-IL), Todd Platts (R-PA), Jim Cooper (D-TN), Aaron Schock (R-IL), and Dave Reichert (R-WA) introduced legislation to provide each American with an itemized tax receipt. The Taxpayer Receipt Act--H.R. 1527--would show how each taxpayer's dollars are spent, as well as how much the federal government is borrowing in their name.
"We check our grocery receipts to make sure our dollars are being spent properly, and there's no reason we shouldn't be able to do the same with our taxes," said Quigley. "A tax receipt will empower taxpayers with the information they need to hold government accountable."
The bill would provide a written receipt for those filing paper tax returns and an electronic receipt for those that e-file. The receipt would include a breakdown of each individual's contributions to Social Security, defense spending, Medicare, and other federal programs, as well as the total amount of federal debt and how much the federal government has borrowed per citizen.
"A "taxpayer receipt' is simply good government," said Platts. "Taxpayers deserve to know where their money is going. That knowledge in turn allows for an honest and thoughtful conversation about the budgetary challenges facing our Nation."
"Every time you make a major purchase, you get a receipt; the same should be true of tax dollars," added Cooper. "Every American deserves to know how their precious tax dollars are being spent. A Taxpayer Receipt just makes sense."
The Taxpayer Receipt Act was introduced--also in a bipartisan fashion--in the Senate last month by Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Scott Brown (R-MA). It is also "strongly supported" by the centrist think tank, Third Way.
"A tax receipt will clear up many misconceptions and it will allow individual taxpayers the chance to better understand how their tax dollars are being spent, so they can hold their elected officials accountable," said Schock. "Individuals and families review their own budgets all the time. Since taxes are one of the biggest expenses, people deserve the right to know how every dollar is being used."
"No matter where families in our communities go to spend their hard-earned dollars, they are offered a receipt. The federal government can and should live up to the same accountability and transparency standards observed by the small businesses in our neighborhoods," said Reichert. "At a time when many Americans feel that their government is detached from their daily lives, this bill could be an important first step to address their concerns and reassure them that their tax dollars are being spent on their security and to build prosperity."
A sample of what the tax receipt would look like can be seen here. The bill comes from a proposal Quigley put forward in Reinventing Government: The Federal Budget, a 70-pg. report on fixing the budget process. Part II of the series will be released in the coming weeks and will detail specific recommendations to reduce spending while maintaining important government services.