As the saying goes, mo’ money, mo’ problems.
And when it comes to money, there are few people with more room for problems than Bill Gates. (Okay… to be fully accurate, there’s only one person, and that’s Jeff Bezos.) But Bill’s most recent challenge isn’t on the technology front, or even related to one of the many admirable, charitable causes he supports. You see, as Gates explained to Fareed Zakaria this weekend, he’s just got too much money. And he’d like the government to relieve him of this burden by taking more of it on tax day. (CNN)
Microsoft founder and billionaire Bill Gates says he should pay more in taxes and that the government should require other superwealthy people like him to contribute “significantly higher” amounts.
“I need to pay higher taxes,” Gates, who is worth over $90 billion, said in an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on Sunday.
“I’ve paid more taxes, over $10 billion, than anyone else, but the government should require the people in my position to pay significantly higher taxes,” he said.
Gates, the second richest man in the world after Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, didn’t mince his words when it came to the GOP tax law, which cut taxes for corporations.
It’s not as if we haven’t heard this from wealthy liberals before. Once your net worth is up in the tens of billions you can afford to say things like that. And the answer from conservatives is generally always the same. Go right ahead! You can give the government all you like without any new laws being passed or forcing your views on your fellow mega-rich citizens.
But is that really true? Like others who have written on the subject in the past, I was mistakenly under the impression that when you sent in your taxes you could just slip in a check to the IRS for an extra thousand if you were feeling generous. (Or perhaps an extra billion in Bill’s case.) Turns out that’s not true, though. Slate did an article on this a few years ago and revealed that sending extra to the Internal Revenue Service will simply result in a boomerang effect. But there are alternate ways to give your money to Uncle Sam and make it stick.
Can you really write the United States a check?
Absolutely—just don’t send it to the IRS. There are several ways for charitable patriots to augment their support for the federal government, but sending a little extra something with their tax payment isn’t one of them. When the IRS receives checks for more than an individual owes, it simply refunds the money. The agency recommends that you send your donation to the Treasury’s Bureau of the Public Debt. Your money will go into a special account to redeem outstanding government notes, bills, and bonds. Since 1996, Americans have donated about $26 million to reducing federal indebtedness, which represents 0.00018 percent of the current national debt. By the way, there’s no need to wait for tax time; the Treasury accepts contributions year-round.
Is anyone else shocked that Americans have donated $26M to help reduce the debt? It’s impressive to say the least, but also rather futile when Washington just keeps running up the tab even higher. And 26 million doesn’t sound like all that much when you think about the scale of our debt. Gates might be onto something here. Since he wants to pay “significantly more” in taxes, we could assume that he wants to kick in a substantial amount. If he wants to take $26B out of his fortune and donate it, that would be 1,000 times more than everyone else in the country has volunteered to date.
Still, I would hate for Mr. Gates to become confused, so here are two ways he can directly send money to the federal government, courtesy of their website.
At Pay.gov, you can contribute online by credit card, debit card, PayPal, checking account, or savings account.
You can write a check payable to the Bureau of the Fiscal Service, and, in the memo section, notate that it’s a gift to reduce the debt held by the public. Mail your check to:
Attn Dept G
Bureau of the Fiscal Service
P. O. Box 2188
Parkersburg, WV 26106-2188
Hope that helps, Bill. Now let’s get to writing those checks. That debt isn’t going to pay itself off, you know.