Feeling pissed that George W.’s disastrous “tax relief” plan was signed into law? Irked that so many Democrats rolled over, played dead, and voted for the bill? Horrified at the number of social services that will be cut as a result of this legislation, and at the big bonuses going to the richest citizens and corporations?
You’re not the only one. Countless progressives are fuming over this tax break and are doing something about it. They are donating their refund check to progressive organizations that are doing work Bush opposes, or work that may be jeopardized by Bush’s slash-and-burn budget. Many are donating independently to their favorite organizations, while others are going through programs specifically designed to encourage people to donate their tax refund, like Planned Parenthood’s Refund for Choice, DonateRebate.org, or Give For Change.
The donate-your-tax-refund movement is growing mostly by word-of-mouth, much like the “President’s Day Message Campaign” (see “How a Gag Gift Became a National Campaign”) earlier this year. That campaign started when writer Patt Morrison, after musing about the anti-woman antics of the Bush administration in her January 26, 2001 Los Angeles Times column, half-jokingly proposed that pro-choice supporters pull a fast one on Bush by donating money to Planned Parenthood in his name. Well, it was fast indeed. Within days, e-mails bolted across the country urging recipients to join the donation drive, and the reproductive rights group raised $860,000. And from the sound of it, the recent stir about tax-refund donations also has the potential to mix things up in this year’s political backlash brew.
The tax refund donation buzz began as another idea for left-wingers to act out as taxpayers. As soon as the tax bill passed, Planned Parenthood received phone calls, letters and e-mails from reproductive rights supporters asking if the organization was going to proceed with an official program for tax refund donations. So, Planned Parenthood instituted “Refund for Choice” in response to the growing interest in citizen activism that offers a return on an investment that no other donation can: revenge. “People are making a statement that the president’s fiscal policies are not in line with the public’s agenda,” says Molly Smith, in the Development Office of Planned Parenthood. “It’s like when you’re at a baseball game and the other team hits a home run with a fly ball that lands on your side. Well, the tradition is to throw it back.” So far, Planned Parenthood has received 20 tax refund gifts that supporters have made in advance of getting their rebates. But Smith says, “Stay tuned.” The organization expects more online and hard-copy donations as rebates are mailed in the coming months.
Not only are refund donators considering big-name groups like Planned Parenthood, but some are also planning to give to smaller, grassroots feminist organizations. “I am going to donate it to an organization that provides abortions to poor women,” wrote one Ms. bulletin board regular. “That way I won’t feel guilty about accepting a rebate that I really don’t need, plus I’ll get to stick it to W.”
The upcoming tax refund, allotted in increments of $300, $500 or $600 and meted out between July and October, is actually an advance payment of a 2001 tax credit. Three hundred dollars may not be a lot compared to the millions in profit “big business” is expecting during the Bush administration, but at least you