Grassroots group in Hanover eyes ‘third rail’ of revenue

Hanover County accepts donations.

Hanover Citizens for Liberty, a new grassroots group, wants local residents to know this is an option to raise revenues for county services.

Oscar Walker, speaking for the group, said Hanover Citizens for Liberty emphasizes personal responsibility and “The Golden Rule” of people treating others as they themselves would like to be treated.

They also feel people should be free to promote the well being of their own county.

“No one should be deprived of the opportunity to give as they see fit, and that’s why I contacted the county to see what their policy is,” Walker said.

Scott Harris, Hanover commissioner of the revenue, explained that state law grants counties the authority to accept monetary donations.

Any resident interested in making a donation would write a check to the Hanover County Treasurer. They should indicate on the memo line that the money is a donation.

Hanover Citizens for Liberty has dubbed this a “voluntary tax donation,” though technically there is no tax without an assessment.

The contribution would function as a charitable gift, similar to what a person might make to the American Red Cross, for example. As such, it could be considered a tax-deductible donation for purposes of federal or state returns, but people should consult their tax advisors to learn about income tax implications.

The Hanover Board of Supervisors decides how the county’s funds are spent. Harris said the board has no formal policy in place that would facilitate earmarking donations to specific services or departments.

Harris noted that Hanover County is not soliciting donations. He has been in contact with Hanover Citizens for Liberty to answer technical questions, but the group is independent.

Walker described taxes as “a form of coercion.”

“They have very little virtuous value, but whenever it comes to a donation which you freely give, then that has a different quality and value,” he explained.

The idea is that if enough people voluntarily give enough funds to the county, then fewer people will see justification for tax increases.

“Hopefully, people are going to step up in our community. We’ll see less of this adverse relationship between the people that want certain things and the people that don’t,” Walker said.

“I think this could be the third rail of revenue raising. We need to get creative. That’s one of the problems, quite frankly, that I think our country faces is that we need some fresh ideas in how to do things more efficient, more effectively,” he added.

Posted on Thursday, May 9, 2013 at 1:01 pm