Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Esteemed Minister of Finances:

    I was discharged with my pension two days ago after thirty-five years of faithful and conscientious service as executor of finances. I accumulated great amounts of experience during those years, and can say that I am better in my field than the majority of financial professionals. I have gained, with this experience, the understanding that almost everyone that I have met does not like paying their taxes. They do it unwillingly, even clearly distastefully, which they display quite clearly not only to the financial offices, but also among themselves (e.g. in private conversation, in the pub, in discussions with clients and the like). I have often heard this sentiment reflected aloud, in the sense that a man pays everything he has and does not know what for; or "there goes our money," but never “there isn't enough money to repair the roads in our region”, and so on. So I conclude that the reason the normal taxpayer does not like paying taxes is because he cannot imagine how our glorious treasury is using his hard-earned coin; he doesn't have the proof that it is being used for the common good and towards goals that he himself would agree with.

    According to my experience and after long thought, I have arrived at the idea that this state of affairs would not be difficult to confront. I envision that every taxpayer should receive a statement directly with their tax receipt as to what their taxes will be used for. For example: "Part of your taxes will pay for the wages of Josef Vrabec, schoolteacher in your city, for the months of September, October, and November." "Your collected taxes will be used to repair seven meters of the 451st kilometer of the national highway." "This portion will be paid as a pension to Mr. Adolf Kopecký, mailman in yr. building here and here." "Your taxes will be used to buy searchlights for such and such antiaircraft battalion." And so on.

    The rewards from this new method of assessment would be as follows:
  1.     The taxpayer would know what his taxes were going towards, which would calm him and put a stop to his habitual grudge against paying his taxes cheerfully.

  2.     It would awake in him a lively interest in the commonwealth, especially in the areas in which his money was to be spent.

    Concretely stated, in the cases that I have outlined above, a normal taxpayer would go have a look at Mr. Josef Vrabec, teacher at the local high school, and see if he were fulfilling his duties: if his hallways were swept, if he came in on time, if he were living above his means, to see if he were conducting himself as would be expected of a schoolteacher, responsible for our youth. The next would go have a look at the 451st kilometer of the national highway, making sure no crime was being committed there and ensuring that everything on his stretch of highway was in perfect order. The next would visit Mr. Adolf Kopecký, postal director, to see if the old man was lacking anything, to make sure he wasn't going to the pub too early and so on; he might even ask him to lunch on Sundays, to establish some sort of personal connection. The next would gain a greater interest in searchlights and military matters in general, which he would consider to be his own personal duty. "Well, our army," he might say, "now they have searchlights! I pay for them, so I know."

    I hope the honorable minister can judge how this simple little solution could increase the taxpayer's faith in what his withholdings were being used for: he could himself oversee the correct usage of his monies; and so too would his interest increase in common welfare, especially if his monies were used for a different purpose each year. Such a taxpayer would already know in advance what his money would be used for that year, and how to check up on it, to make sure if was being used for proper business, and how to follow up, if need be, with the disorderly schoolteacher Josef Vrabec or the highway worker who has not left kilometer 451 as clean as can be. Many people might even accept higher withholdings of their wages than they already had, to support a functionary of a higher rank: it could be a sort of matter of ambition to attain the monkish level of renunciation. Many a young clerk would be invited into the home of his contributors and might even meet their daughters; this would create tight bonds between the offices and the taxpayers, which would be to the gain of both parties. One can even imagine that even the slightest taxpayer would be proud when he understood that his meager change would be used to clean a bank. Or what a pleasant surprise it would be for the administration of the municipal brewery in Plzeň when they are informed that the taxes levied on their brewery would be added to the national prizes for poetry and literature! It cannot even be described how this would enliven taxpaying; instead of a hated duty, it would become fellowship, which would grant the individual taxpayer perpetually new interest and an inexhaustible source of various joys.

    Therefore may the illustrious treasury take into consideration this meager suggestion from its humble and loyal servant, N. N.

LN 21 February, 1937

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