But Matt Gardner, senior fellow at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, said there is a distinction between tax dollars and taxpayer dollars.
“User fees are, technically, not ‘tax dollars’ in that they are not the product of our tax system,” Gardner said. “But the broader claim that these are not ‘taxpayer dollars’ doesn’t seem right. When we pay the $20 entrance fee to visit a national park, we’re not paying a tax. But most people would say that $20 is ‘taxpayer dollars’ in that the government collected it from people, and will spend it on some public services.”
Gardner likened a $20 park fee to the fines and penalties paid by federal offenders. Read more