“Conscience Doth Make Cowards of Us All”
— William Shakespeare
The US Treasury’s Conscience Fund
Did you know that ever since 1811 the U.S. Treasury has operated a Conscience Fund?
Most people feel that they’ve already ‘contributed’ enough money to the government through taxation, but not everybody. For these folks The U.S. Treasury set up a number of special funds, including the Conscience Fund. This fund accepts donations from those who feel that they have cheated on their taxes or stolen from the government.
According to the New York Times: ” …the conscience fund has taken in more than $5.7 million. The ”gift fund,” repository for an astonishing number of contributions by people who simply want to help out the Government, has accepted nearly $56.5 million since it was established in 1843. “
Sometimes people send gifts of money to the Treasury for extremely weird reasons. One man sent in 19 cents, another person 42 cents, and still another 89 cents. They arrived as pennies and other coins taped to letters explaining that the money was found on the street!
Sometimes people want their contribution to go toward a cause such as rebulding the World Trade Center or the Pentagon, or hurricane victims. One gift came with a note saying it was “Simply as a token expression of my gratitude and love for this blessed land.”
The Treasury can’t promise that your money will go where requested. Instead, the cash from the fund is tossed into the nearly $2.5 trillion federal budget where it could pay for anything from soybean subsidies to Senator Ted Kennedy’s salary to secret containment facilities for extraterrestrials.
A gift to the military fund in February 1986 was addressed to President Reagan.
The letter opened: “I enjoyed your speech on our defense and have decided to pledge $5 a week for one year to help keep our country safe and free. I realize that this is not very much in total, but could you imagine if every person that has the privilege to live and work in this great country did the same, not only would we have a heavy defense but a unity of countrymen that you have strived for relentlessly.”
Another letter expressed this: “I am sending ten dollars for blankets I stole while in World War II. My mind could not rest. Sorry I’m late.” It was signed: an ex-GI. And there was this postscript: “I want to be ready to meet with God.”
In 1986, Americans who felt they had cheated their Government, one way or another, voluntarily sent $380,929.49 to Washington in restitution. That was more than in any year since an anonymous defrauder first contributed $5 back in the Madison Administration. Officials at the Treasury Department say that money has arrived in a steady trickle every day since the fund was set up 197 years ago. Strange but true! You might be asking yourself if these unexpected gifts to the US treasury are tax deductible?