An Alternative to Using Tax Law for Non-Tax Purposes

Readers of MauledAgain know that I am not a fan of using federal tax law to encourage or discourage particular behavior. If Congress wants to influence people’s decisions through monetary benefits, it ought to permit the relevant agency to design the details of a program and to issue checks or make electronic transfers. Yet Congress too often puts the benefit in the form of a tax credit, requiring the IRS to become an expert in things such as alternative fuels, higher education, electric vehicles, orphan drugs, and dozens of other products and services. My guess is that the Congress trusts the IRS more than most of the other agencies, though its members are reluctant to admit this publicly.Now comes news that the Bureau of Land Management plans to pay $1,000, in two installments, directly to anyone who adopts a wild horse or burro. This initiative is designed to deal with the ever-growing numbers of wild horses and burros, which requires the Bureau to spend money caring…

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