It’s often a conservative rallying cry to say “I want my money back!” or something along those lines when talking about taxes. They believe that what the government takes throughout the year and especially April 15 belongs to them at all times, not merely while it sits in their pockets.
This is a false belief.
What the government takes in taxes belongs to the government, bar any bookkeeping errors. To claim otherwise is tantamount to claiming that the government has stolen money. I’m sure there are plenty of ignorant people out there willing to say as much, but I think that vast majority of citizens are intelligent enough to recognize that Uncle Sam isn’t robbing them, even if they do disagree with certain tax and spending policies.
The truth is, the moment money leaves a person’s bank account to head off to government coffers is the moment that money ceases to belong to that person. It is at the point that it belongs to the government. Fortunately, the government is of, by, for, along, about, concerning, since and perhaps a few other prepositions related to the people. That means that even though the money no longer belongs to any particular individual, it does belong to all citizens. What we collectively decide to do with it – which may include giving it to individual people – is up to us and those we elect to represent us. It isn’t up to John Smith or Suzie Q how the government allocates his or her specific portion of taxes – it’s up to all of us because it belongs to all of us.
So the fact is, the government can’t give you your money back. Once it taxes you, all it can do is give you some of the money that belongs to all of us (which may, as it so happens, match what you put into the system). That’s why we don’t jail politicians and IRS agents every time a new tax policy is put in place. Uncle Sam is not stealing from you.