Anyone who has ever filed an income tax return in the state of Minnesota has encountered the box: Check here to donate a portion of your tax refund to the political party of your choice to help pay for election campaigns.

Did you know, though, that regardless of whether you checked any box or whether you want your tax dollars used this way or not, you’re still subsidizing political campaigns in Minnesota? The state’s campaign subsidy program distributed nearly $2.4 million to candidates for statewide offices and for the Minnesota House this year, according to data released by the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board on Tuesday. Of that, only $1.4 million came via check-offs. The rest came from all taxpayers, both the willing and unwilling, through the state’s general coffers.

That can change. In the interest of responsibly using public tax dollars, it ought to change. Participating candidates can start by accepting their share from the $1.4 million raised through check-offs and by refusing the rest. The Legislature can follow by changing the law so the program is funded through voluntary donations only. Candidates and lawmakers can show themselves as responsible stewards of the public’s money through such actions.