Wall Street Journal opinion columnist James Taranto has thrown down the gauntlet on tax reform. This week he challenged a pro-tax-hike liberal to put his money where his mouth is.

Francis Dummer Fisher wrote a letter to the New York Times last week saying that rather than indulge in consumerism, he would like his unused cash to be collected as taxes by the government to “buy better schools, more federal research on health, public roads without tolls, [and] financially sound Social Security.” But Taranto points out that Mr. Fisher doesn’t have to wait for Congressional passage of a new tax bill; if he’s so eager to give his money to federal projects, he could just as easily make an unconditional gift to the government.

According to the US Treasury:

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.” […] Money deposited into this account is for general use by the federal government and can be available for budget needs.

Taranto asks to see a copy of Mr. Fisher’s cancelled check to the US government for the amount he claims he wants to give up. The same invitation could be extended to the club of millionaires and billionaires who vociferously advocate higher taxes as a penance for their success.

The philanthropy of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett attests to their overwhelming generosity and good intentions. But despite their insistence that they long to support the federal government in the form of higher taxes, much of their charitable efforts are directed through private organizations. It’s easy to see why: private charities and non-governmental organizations are more efficient and better equipped to turn these funds into a direct benefit to a variety of causes than the unwieldy machinery of government. Otherwise, why wouldn’t these men make their own unconditional gifts to the government?

Rather than insisting on redistributionist policies that they themselves acknowledge, by their actions, are ineffective, these billionaires should be fighting to preserve the freedom over their own funds that allows their private charities to flourish.