Ateneo De Naga high school 1980

Those who do not remember history are bound to live through it again.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Taxes and Conscience

Back in 1811 (prior to the establishment of the Internal Revenue Service in 1863), the U.S. government agency that collected taxes decided to create a fund account that it can use to deposit monies voluntarily sent in by people who believe they stole or defrauded the U.S. government.

During the first year, first amount that was sent in for the fund was for $5. Later on, a $1500 check was sent in with a letter saying, “Suppose we call this a contribution to the conscience fund and get it announced in the newspapers, and perhaps we will get some more”. After reading the letter, the agency handling the fund decided to name the account, “Conscience Fund”.

People have varied reasons for sending in money for the fund. A person from Massachusetts sent in 9 cents because he reused a 3-cent stamp fraudulently. A lady sent in 44 cents because she reused two postage stamps. A person from New Jersey sent in $40,000 because he/she defrauded the government for $8,000. Some donations were sent by clergies who received death bed confessions. One man sent $2,000 to clear his conscience with the “IRS and with God”. The largest contribution was for $50,000 from an anonymous donor and gave no reason for the contribution. One amusing note came along with a $1,000 donation. The note read, “Dear Internal Revenue, I have not been able to sleep at night because I cheated on last year's income tax. Enclosed find a cashier's check for $1,000. If I still can't sleep, I'll send you the balance”.

175 years after the Conscience Fund was established, its balance rose to over $5.7 million dollars. Most of the donors are from citizens who are deeply bothered by their conscience.

Do you seek the counsel of your conscience when filing and paying your taxes? 


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