Recurring Decimals…..

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Should charity be enforced ?

with 4 comments

I am all for helping the poorer countries in world, especially when it comes to buying much needed medicines. However, financing such efforts by forcing people to pay additional taxes while boarding airplanes, I think is misdirected.

Passengers boarding planes in France are now paying a new tax on their tickets to help the world’s poor, after the measure came into effect on the weekend.

The tax, championed by President Jacques Chirac and backed by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, adds a surcharge of between one and 40 euros (1.25 and 50 dollars) depending on the destination and class of seat. Money raised is to go to an international fund to buy treatments for AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

Depending on class of travel and destination, it looks like one could be paying anywhere between one to fifty US dollars in such taxes. The amounts are not very high compared to the cost of the ticket and conceptually, this is not any different from the airport taxes (which are now conveniently bundled and not always itemized on your ticket price).

Personally, I would not mind parting with that extra 4-5 dollars. But generally, I am vehemently against any type of coercion in such matters. Philanthropy must come from your heart. Forcing people to give up money, especially with generally high airline prices and flying itself being a not-too-pleasant experience, will only serve as a turn-off for charitable causes in general.

I remember that few years ago, British Airways, Jet Airways and some others would have an envelope in their goody bag in which you could place any spare change you had. The money would go to UNICEF or some such UN organization. Passengers on international flights would be encouraged to drop in the enevelope any small changes of currency they had from the departing country. Many passengers would do it – lot of them would not care. But that is how it should be – personal choice.

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Written by BongoP'o'ndit

July 3, 2006 at 3:49 am

4 Responses

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  1. It maybe is not quite as obvious as an additional item on a ticket bill, but the income tax deduction for charitable giving in the US amounts to the same thing.


    July 5, 2006 at 11:04 am

  2. Brian: But the income tax deduction, as I understand it, is ideally an incentive for charitable contributions. But in the French case, you are forced to pay-up the money (dont they if you can eventually write it off as a tax-deduction!). I am not totally sure if I understand your point though.


    July 5, 2006 at 11:31 am

  3. Well, it wasn’t a great point, but if someone gets a deduction for a charitable contribution, then the rest of the taxpayers must make up the difference, essentially making everyone donors whether they agree with the specific charities or not. In the case of the current administration, that just means more debt, so it is more like making one’s great-grandchildren pay for one’s charitable contributions.


    July 6, 2006 at 11:38 am

  4. Brian: Got your point. I guess you are right in a way.

    The goverment probably provides the break thinking that charities do some of the welfare work – hence less need for taxes ? I am sure it doesn’t work out that way in reality.


    July 6, 2006 at 2:32 pm

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