Money speaks. You've just been given a microphone. Several religious leaders are calling for a special kind of tax revolution this summer. Their suggestion is to plan now to forward your tax rebate check for either $300 or $600 to a charity.
As Robert Buchanan, Presbyterian minister and editor of Christian Century points out, this money was not in your budget and, in that sense, you don't "need" it. What better way to express your opinion about the president's tax plan?
Whether you love it, hate it or don't understand it, you can still make a strong personal statement. The so-inclined could even include a note with their donation crediting the president who made it possible.
The plan calls for returning $1.3 million to taxpayers over the next 11 years. Yes, your $300 or $500 is a tiny fraction of that amount, but to a local program that helps young mothers, teaches teen-agers responsibility, encourages neighborhoods to take pride in their property, cares for the elderly, the homeless, the prisoner, (you fill in the blank) your gift could mean a great deal.
Major gift: Depending on your personal finances, it may be the largest charitable gift you make this year. Even if it's not, there is still the satisfaction of expressing your belief with action, by financially supporting something good.
Perhaps you had an excellent teacher or youth leader whom you'd like to honor. Why not give your gift in that person's honor? If your high school band (choir, sports team, drama club) helped you grow, mark that contribution to you with one from you. Or you might donate to a cause that has always interested you, but so far, never received your help.
You could get political and give to some cause that you feel is being neglected by the current national, state or local leaders. Did the recent executions offend you? Are you unhappy about President Bush's restrictions on sex education? Is there something you'd like to say about how our leaders are treating the environment?
If you wait until the check comes, there will be some crying need. Car repairs, home maintenance, an unplanned indulgence or just using it as pocket money will eat up this amount. But if you make a plan, you can make a difference.
Spread the word: It wouldn't hurt to speak to your relatives and friends about this idea because you may be able to group some of the rebates into a larger sum. You could start your own tax revolution, and it's not only legal, it's deductible.
ELSIE I. DURSI
X Ms. Dursi is the executive director of the Mahoning Valley Association of Churches.