Three law professors have established a website (h/t RightCoast via Instapundit) where people can calculate how much they are saving by the extension of the current marginal tax rates and then donate that amount to one of four selected charities.

The website,, states that the purpose is as follows:

America’s shared prosperity is under threat. Even as the Great Recession devastates the American middle class, the wealthy continue to prosper.

The tax cut deal, while perhaps the best the President could get, will not end this crisis of American democracy. It does too little to help the middle class. And it expects too little support from those who can afford to give the most. Ordinary citizens can, by acting together to create a shadow fiscal policy, correct this failure of government and set the country moving toward a just prosperity. Here’s how.

Americans who have the means should collectively give back our Bush tax cuts by making donations to organizations that promote fairness, economic growth, and a vibrant middle class. Such joint action, by all visitors to this site, will begin to replicate good government policy, outside the government and free from the grip of obstructionists within it. Because contributions to all of the selected charities are tax deductible, donations made through this site draft the government as a partner in funding the projects that they support.

We can, in this way, begin to redeem candidate Obama’s promise that “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

The website calculates your “savings” as follows:

Our tax cut calculations are estimates only. We base them on the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center Microsimulation Model ( We follow the Tax Policy Center and base our calculations on a comparison of the Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010, as considered by the Senate, and the law as it would have been had no new statute been enacted. We interpolate within the ranges in the tax policy center’s data. More importantly, our calculations of the tax cut do not include the 2% reduction in the payroll (OASDI) tax rate on employees. That reduction represents the kind of fair and stimulative fiscal policy that we hope to mimic and encourage.

I like the idea.  I’ve always felt that those who want higher taxes should pay higher taxes. 

But I’m not sure the methodology is appropriate to the goal, since the money is not paid to the government and the donor gets a tax deduction for the donation.  So the net effect is that payment is not an act equal to paying higher taxes, in fact, it is just the opposite.

It also will be hard to know if the contributions actually represent a contribution of the tax savings from extension of current rates, or just a contribution which would have been made anyway.

Nonetheless, I hope that the creators of the site will honor Obama’s commitment to transparency, and will release the aggregate numbers of money donated through the website.

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