Recently, I read about the Rolling Jubilee – an offshoot of the OWS organization that focuses on buying up debt and forgiving it entirely – giving random Americans in crisis a surprise that could spell the difference between prosperity and a lifetime of poverty. (News article here http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/9666748/Occupy-Wall-Street-campaigners-buy-up-debt-to-abolish-it.html , read more about the organization here http://rollingjubilee.org/ .) An idea struck that by attaching a significant tax benefit to this, we could encourage wealthy Americans to invest a small amount of their resources in America itself by helping its most financially vulnerable citizens on the road to solvency. Rolling Jubilee estimates that with $50,000, they can buy up one million dollars of debt and forgive it, no strings attached. That is a remarkable return on investment. If the IRS considered debt forgiveness of this nature a charitable donation valued at the full value of the debt being forgiven, that would give debt forgiveness a compelling tax incentive for those in a position to donate. To this end, I have sent the following letter to my Senators and Representatives, and to those entering office:
Recently, I read about the Rolling Jubilee project ( http://rollingjubilee.org/ ) – an effort by citizens to buy up debt of Americans in crisis for pennies on the dollar, and forgive it – giving a much-needed hand up to Americans working hard to maintain solvency. This is a bailout of the people by the people – and it’s not costing Uncle Sam one dime.
I have a proposal that could make this charitable option very attractive for those Americans blessed with more disposable income than most – categorizing no-strings debt cancellation as a charitable donation for tax purposes, valued at the full value of the debt, not the price paid to purchase it. This would allow wealthy Americans to see an immediate tax benefit to voluntarily sharing their wealth to assist those less fortunate, at a much greater return on investment than traditional charitable donations.
This would, of course, represent less tax revenue for the federal government over the short term. However, the assistance this would provide to Americans in financial crisis would allow them to step out of poverty and rely less on government-funded social programs and community-funded charities, and perhaps allow them to use their resources to become small business owners – thus decreasing the cost of social programs, and increasing tax revenue overall in the long term.
I urge you to consider proposing legislation that would give wealthy Americans a strong tax incentive to cancelling debt. It benefits the wealthy, it benefits those less fortunate, and it benefits America.
If you think this is good for America, I strongly urge you to send a letter (feel free to use the above) to your Senators and Representatives asking them to please consider it. This could benefit us all.
If you need help finding out who your Senators or Representatives are, visit http://www.senate.gov/index.htm and click the Find Your Senators area in the upper right of the page. For Congresspersons, visit http://www.house.gov/ and type your ZIP code into the ‘Find Your Representative’ area in the upper right of the page.