YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The United States Department of the Treasury has what it calls its Conscience Fund. People who have stolen from or defrauded the government, or stolen from anyone, can send money to it, and they do.

President James Madison started it in 1811, and someone sent in $5. Over the years, it has collected more than $6 million.

Donations to the Conscience Fund are all different.

A Massachusetts man sent in nine cents because he reused a three-cent postage stamp.

One donor sent handmade quilts to settle her tax bill.

But the biggest sum so far, $155,502 in 1990, was given with no explanation.

Some people send cash through an attorney and the Treasury Department asks no questions. When there’s a return address, it responds with a thank-you note.

Most gifts to the Conscience Fund are from anonymous donors. Sometimes someone from the clergy forwards money after a deathbed confession.

One letter read, “Dear Internal Revenue Service, I have not been able to sleep at night because I cheated on last year’s income tax. Enclosed find a cashier’s check for $1,000. If I still can’t sleep, I’ll send you the balance.”

Just address your letter to Conscience Fund, U.S. Government, Washington, DC.

Donations to the Conscience Fund are not tax deductible.

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