Richard Carnes: Taxes, charities a bad mix in Vail Valley |

Richard Carnes: Taxes, charities a bad mix in Vail Valley

Let’s say, for hypothetical sake, a local taxing authority took it upon themselves to donate your tax dollars to selective local nonprofits of their collective choosing.

And let’s say it was around $100,000 annually, a mere pittance when compared to the entire budget of said local taxing authority.

Imagine the same donation being made for the last 20 years or so.

Now visualize the authority’s 2010 budget being slashed by, coincidentally, around the same amount that had been donated away over the last few decades, along with the residual job losses and service cuts necessary to balance their new, more efficient budget.

I can make this even easier to follow.

What if you discovered that a local Girl Scout troop was receiving your tax dollars?

What if you don’t like the Girl Scouts? What if you don’t like Scouts in general? What if you don’t like girls?

Then you discover that a member of the authority just happens to have a little girl that just happens to be a Girl Scout in what just happens to be the same Girl Scout troop that is receiving your tax dollars as an annual donation.

Remembering that all of the above is hypothetical and that I am not fingering any particular taxing authority or group (I may be an idiot, but I’m not stupid), would you be upset to find out that the general parameters involved above actually exist here in Happy Valley, and have for many years by more than one taxing authority?

Of course you would.

I rallied against this annual process of “gift-giving with tax dollars” as a town of Avon council member back in the mid-’90s, constantly questioning government’s role in many ways, but especially in how they spent money collected from taxpayers.

I was publicly raked over the coals by many on the receiving end of the public’s give-away cash, yet privately praised by those who agreed but were afraid of somehow being connected to anything that might be construed as “anti-charity” (sort of like what happens today when I point out the hypocrisy of magical beliefs).

For me it was simple, no one pays an extra 4 percent when purchasing a SpongeBob SquarePants thong at Wally World in order for a single penny of that 4 percent to be given away to a local charity chosen at the personal discretion of a local taxing authority.

Not only are most of you agreeing at this very moment, you’re probably saying to yourself, “Whoa, I didn’t know SpongeBob wore a thong.”

Anyway, the point should be painfully obvious:

Even if we were not in a recession, even if government coffers were overflowing with unexpected windfalls, even if the sun shined every day and it snowed every night, local taxes are paid for the purpose of funding a local government, not local charities.

Taxes are mandated by law, while supporting a charity is a simple matter of choice for private donors. I’m pretty sure none of you would be happy if I were to offer a donation with your money, right?

Like religion and politics, the two should never be mixed.

Richard Carnes of Edwards writes a column for the Daily. He can be reached at

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