Proposed Bill Would Allow Private Donations to Government Agencies

‘Taxpayers already give up a chunk of their paychecks … but people don’t normally feel like they get much of a say in how it is used…’

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Mike Enzi/Photo by AMSF2011 (CC)

(Michael Barnes, Liberty Headlines) A new, bipartisan bill seeks to empower those who want the federal government to do more—by letting them write a check.

The proposal, co-sponsored by Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., would facilitate donations by directing them to specific agencies and for specific purposes rather than the U.S. Treasury.

As a growing number of liberal billionaires recently have petitioned for a “wealth tax” on those above a certain threshold, Enzi said the legislation should motivate well-heeled big-government advocates to put their money where their mouths are.

Instead of pushing for higher and higher taxes on those unable or unwilling to support the ballooning bureaucracy, the plan would more closely resemble the revenue streams of private philanthropies and nonprofits that allow donors to designate a usage.

“Taxpayers already give up a chunk of their paychecks in the form of taxes to the government, but people don’t normally feel like they get much of a say in how it is used,” Enzi said.

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., the bill’s other co-sponsor, said he considers the measure a “good government” plan.

“This bipartisan bill is a straightforward, good-government bill that would make it easier for taxpayers to donate charitable gifts to federal projects or programs of their choosing and, at the same time, create more transparency in the process,” said Carper.

“This bill would also allow federal agencies to transfer unspent gift funds back to the Treasury Department to help reduce our growing deficit that is projected to near $900 billion this year.”

Officially called the Donations for Our Nation’s Advancement, Transformation, and Enhancement Act, or DONATE, the bill would allow heads of federal departments and agencies the discretion to use privately donated funds according to a donor’s wishes.

The senators said they are aware of a glaring concern that wealthy donors could fund their own government projects—which they pass off on the Government Accountability Office.

The GAO would examine all gifted funds, they said, along with how each department manages them, and how departments would provide their own oversight for any such funding.

The bill, however, does not mention whether taxes would decrease in light of the increased government funding.