I was reading some political articles, and the writer was arguing that tax rates should be substantially higher for their tax bracket. So that raises a theoretical in my mind: say you believe that and you want to practice what you believe. Is it possible to pretend that you owe a substantially higher amount (%70 instead of %30, for example) without any issues? Will this raise red flags or cause any accounting issues? Or will the (United States) government happily take your money?

In other words, if you make a tax error in the government’s favor by a large enough margin, would that get noticed and corrected? Cynical me would be surprised if the government did care, but there might be rules that prevent that. And I know that some accountants are absolute sticklers about justifying every line item, so some of them in the IRS might see an error like that and raise a stink (at least I would hope so).

I know that Colorado has a law that requires excess taxes to be returned to the residents (but that’s from government budgeting issues, not individual tax errors) and Alaska has some sort of stipend they return to residents because of excess corporate taxes (or so I’ve heard, but then someone said it was more complicated than that).

Sadly this question is hard to google, because everyone is focused on getting your money back if you overpay, not making the government keep it :).

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    Are you aware of fiscal.treasury.gov/public/gifts-to-government.html ? Just want to clarify if any method of giving to the government would be acceptable or you want specifically to send a message about paying more tax. Commented Jul 12, 2020 at 9:33
  • 2
    Congrats user #100,000 😀 Commented Jul 12, 2020 at 18:28
  • 1
    @ChrisW.Rea - I don't get it. We even had flashing lights to tell him about the car he won. Obligatory xkcd.com/570
    – Kevin
    Commented Jul 12, 2020 at 20:43
  • @ChrisW.Rea Haha, that's hilarious :). Neat. Commented Jul 13, 2020 at 17:08
  • @GS-ApologisetoMonica I was not, thanks! Commented Jul 13, 2020 at 17:08

1 Answer 1


The Federal government doesn't have to refund money if you don't file a return. In fact if you wait too long you will forfeit the refund.

This from 2019:

Unclaimed income tax refunds totaling almost $1.4 billion may be waiting for an estimated 1.2 million taxpayers who did not file a 2015 Form 1040 federal income tax return, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

To collect the money, these taxpayers must file their 2015 tax returns with the IRS no later than this year's tax deadline, Monday, April 15, except for taxpayers in Maine and Massachusetts, who have until April 17.

"We’re trying to connect over a million people with their share of $1.4 billion in potentially unclaimed refunds for 2015,” said IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig. “Students, part-time workers and many others may have overlooked filing for 2015. And there’s no penalty for filing a late return if you’re due a refund.”

The IRS estimates the midpoint for the potential refunds for 2015 to be $879 — that is, half of the refunds are more than $879 and half are less.

Now this can be a dangerous game. If you haven't filed a return and the IRS has documents showing income, they will be expecting you to file. They will guess the numbers based on the data they have, and use zero for the rest. If they think you owe them money they will find you.

Now you could decide to donate a ton of money to a charity and never claim the deduction. You aren't required to. There is no 1099 or like form sent to the IRS that they will try to match to your return.

Of course you could just decide to write a check to the US government.

How do I make a contribution to the U.S. government?

Citizens who wish to make a general donation to the U.S. government may send contributions to a specific account called "Gifts to the United States."

This account was established in 1843 to accept gifts, such as bequests, from individuals wishing to express their patriotism to the United States. Money deposited into this account is for general use by the federal government and can be available for budget needs.

some people do make a gift:

Fiscal Year to Date   Totals 
2020                  $1,106,388.84 
2019                  $4,991,215.70
2018                    $775,654.63 
2017                  $2,611,428.24
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    I'm kind of surprised that gift amount totals is so variable. That suggests to me that there are relatively few gifts or that they heavily correlate with outside events.
    – Teepeemm
    Commented Jul 12, 2020 at 18:12
  • @BenVoigt. fixed it. Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 20:28
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    They could have just called that $879 figure... the median.
    – user19035
    Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 21:58
  • There's also pay.gov/public/form/start/23779454 specifically for reducing the US national debt
    – AakashM
    Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 9:01

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