Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ethical defenses for not paying tax

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The ethical defences for not paying taxation are:
1. Objective reality: Taxation does not achieve the goals that it purports to achieve. Whether its to help the poor, to create a better society. The reason why it cant is that its a denial of the facts of reality. It subverts people's minds, it does not help them. Why? Well it turns thew wealthy into suckers who bedrudgingly give their money as slaves do, and turns the poor into poor who take no responsibility for their lives, and who are bound to develop a sense of entitlement. This value proposition is the antithesis of our current values, and if it took hold, the result would be fascism.
2. Political breach: There are few countries that have a constitution that would protect people from their breach of rights. Its clearly apparent why governments are against the idea of 'bill of rights'. Many people have canvassed the idea of having one, usually intent on protecting the rights of majority, but the worse fear of government is that thet majority might start wanting rights defined in law. If they really people looked, theyt would see that they have 'rights' by permission, not as a result of any law or principle. Only in the USA is there a fading light of principle in people's minds, but they are comfortably numbed as well by the 'good life', failing to realise it could be much better.

What are the justifications for paying tax?

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The justifications that people have for paying tax are:
1. Its the moral thing to do: There are those who would argue that its moral to help those who are less fortunate. Well that is the communist-socialist creed, so its a rather strange argument given that the West has been fighting communists from Libya to Vietnam to Cuba. Why is their communism any less legitimate than theirs? Well, they might claim that their collectivist has the sanction of the public. Hmm... Castro and Hitler had popular support too though. And since when does it matter how many thieves or despots raid your house. But yes, altruism is consistent with religion, which preaches self-sacrifice for the sake of others. I just have no stomach for the notion of being a slave to a state that does not represent me.
2. Essential services have to be financed: This is a lame argument because essential services are precisely the type of services that dont require expropriation because people will willingly pay for them because they need them. Afterall thats how taxation was conceived - to fight Britain's enemies at sea. But look where money is being spent by governments. Libraries, daycare, even subsidies to encourage people to give birth, foreign aid. Are these essential?
3. There is a price to be paid for living in a prosperous society: Yes, but who decides how much should be paid and for what. We are no more prosperous for having taxation, as generally governments are very poor at allocating funds.

Is evading tax ethical?

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Tax evasion is illegal because its an attempt to deny the government, which has a legal 'right', of the tax receipts that it has the power to recover from you. In the US, the foresight of the US Founding Fathers actually created a Constitution which offered alot of protection to taxpayers. But that has not stopped the Federal government from levying a income tax upon citizens that is not in fact constitutional. This breach of the constitution is on the public record, but most Americans continue to pay income tax, when they are in fact not required to file a tax return.

Given that 'its the law' to pay tax, are we required to pay it ethically? Well, the answer is self-righteously No! Ethics is based on arguments of logic. The political system subjugates any individuals judgement on the matter, right or wrong, to the will of the majority, right or wrong. So arguments of logic are not the standard of value in politics.

So what role should logic play?
Well I have yet to see a legislator make a rational case for taxation, so they are likely to downplay the role of logic in favour of the common good, the will of society, and other collectivist terminology. They will of course be acting in their best interests, as opposed to what is good for society.

Should one accept the rational argument or live by the law?
That is a personal decision because clearly you might feel good saving money, but there are other taxpayers who would feel betrayed by your indifference to their cause. Their greater concern however is likely to be:
1. Their tax bill is bigger because you dont which to support services that they feel compelled to support, even if they didnt approve of them.
2. They fear government retribution so are unlikely to come to your defence

If you are in any doubt about the morality of taxation consider the following question - By what moral right can one person, or person claiming to represent any number of other people, seek to force another to pay taxation. Expropriation is robbery. The tax act is contrary to the principles of Common Law that extend back far greater than taxation. Taxation, as conceived in the UK, was a voluntary tax to defend rights. It was only dispotic monarchs that used the proceeds for their only political ends, and so it was for government when they ultimately sought to do the same thing. How is taxation different from any other crime? Its legitimatised theft.

Is evading tax legal?

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There is no desputing that fact that evading tax is illegal in most countries on account of the fact that collecting tax is enshrined in law. But there are instances where governments have acted with impunity. The Federal government of the United States actually illegally collects income taxes. There is no law in the United States requiring individuals to file income tax returns. So why do people pay them? Because they were lead to believe they had to, and most people just accept that there is a gun pointed at their heads, and didn't want to be the only defiant person. You can expect that defiance will be growing in the USA. You can also expect that at some point defiance will become a political issue, and the government will overtly act with the threat of a gun, that is....real consequences. But of course the US government does not want to force people on the issue yet because it really doesn't know the level of community resentment. There are several reasons for thinking that the USA government is mindful of public opposition to tax:
1. They have been lied to about their requirement to pay tax
2. They didn't realise they didn't have to pay taxes, so might feel a sense of power or autonomy and not pay it
3. The legacy of under-funded government budgets has highlighted the irresponsibility of the US Treasury
4. Opposition to public opinion, such as the war in Iraq might incense people to the extent that they no longer want to pay tax
5. Just basic opposition to the idea that the government can expropriate your wealth

Certainly in most countries taxation is illegal. The question to ask yourself - Is it immoral, and what is the relationship between morality and the law.

Why people pay tax?

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I think if you were able to get an honest judgement from people, or were able to convey all the facts, and were able to join all people that dislike tax, I think they would conclude that taxation is one of the greatest scourges of all time, one of the biggest scams. I have outlined what I believe are the reasons why people pay tax - some of them are related:

  1. Fear: A lot of people pay taxes because they are worried about the negative consequences of paying taxes. They are worried about being powerless to prevent the tax office from trashing their lives, or from being sent to prison. The implication is that there is a gun pointing at their heads requiring them to pay taxes. Few are willing to call the bluff of the tax office. Few are willing to publicly air their grievances, and they would likely get little support from the media. In the modern era, principles have little status. Lobby groups have standing. Irrational unions have power not because they have a good argument but because they are a threat to vested interests. Intellectuals are cowards. We have soldiers that go off to war to fight the physical battle, to risk their lives, but intellectuals duck for cover at the sight of an intellectual battle. Why? They have no army. In fact, most intellectuals are the enemy because as academics, bureaucrats or teachers, they are supported by government. They live safety, they hate accountability.
  2. Priorities: I guess a lot of people look at their hierarchy of values and decide to place the limited freedom they have (ie. paying ≈40% tax and accepting a string of other immoral laws) above the risk of even greater expropriation or a prison sentence. These risks are real for a few people, but governments don’t have a moral argument, so if enough people are critical of government’s right to tax, then there is the prospect of change.
  3. Illegal: Not paying tax is illegal. Alot of people stop there and dont question the legitimacy of laws. I have listed helplessness below, which breeds acceptance of bad laws. The foundation of legitimate law are moral arguments, but a great many intellectuals throughout time have undermined the status of reason. For this reason, if you were to mount a philosophical/ethical argument against taxation, a lot of people would discount it as having no objective foundation. They would say 'its just your opinion', 'there is no objectivity'. This anti-science, anti-reason thinking, or non-thinking has permeated society for a long time. Its why we listen and embrace the 'mob', the majority, but the problem is the current system gives the majority a moral righteousness they dont deserve, resulting in government in having powers they dont deserve, and more importantly the capacity to act with impunity, free of accountability. There is no rational justification for one person, collective, representative or claimant being able to initiate the use of force upon another as a system of government. Its indefensible. They dont defend it. They just act with impunity. No country has debated the ethical legitimacy of taxation - it was imposed by tyrannies, feudalist governments, or accepted by default, for lack of an intellectual debate of the matter.
  4. Perspective: A lot of people accept taxation because they have known no other system. Only students of history might question the legitimacy of taxation because they understand how tax was introduced. Other people tend to accept that the system was there when they were born, it will probably be there long after they die.
  5. Hopelessness: A lot of tax payers might disagree with taxation or the amount they pay, but consider themselves as having no power to change the system. That lack of power stems from recognition that throughout their life, reason has not been the standard of value. Power is what counts, and power is won by controlling perceptions, and you need an audience to do that. The mainstream media are gatekeepers with powerful political friends, they are not allies.
  6. Alienation: A lot of people would not consider not paying tax because, quite apart from the physical threat of having their wealth expropriated, they are worried about being alienated from society, who seems to embrace the idea of paying tax. If tax evaders were organised as a group, they would have a possibility of gaining credibility by mounting a moral argument in defence of a freedom without taxation - which is actually a contradiction in terms.
  7. Guilt: Related to alienation is the sense that people without a strong conceptual grasp of the immorality of taxation are inclined to feel guilty for not paying, whether its because they have some level of doubt over not paying tax, or because they might be hurting family, or might genuinely want to help people through taxation. These people are not likely to oppose tax because they have a collectivist psychology.
    Practical: At some level there are a lot of people that think its more practical to pay tax. Aside from the fact that they get to stay out of prison, their thinking is that whilst the taxation rate is 40%, their happy with 20% of the way tax is spent, and 60% of the services they get. Of course they are not inclined to evaluate the depth of the impact of government – that is another post in itself. But in some sense they rationalize that ‘if the government only expropriates half’ then you are free. Never mind that you are taxed in income, taxed on savings, taxed on superannuation, and then death duties. They only stop with what they can get away with.
  8. Diminished responsibility: A lot of people don’t believe in paying tax, but they nevertheless do it because they don’t want the responsibility of being a victim. They would rather be a victim paying 40% tax and dealing with the frustrations of poor government, than being the type of victim who confronts the uncertainty of having their savings expropriated from their bank account, or the type who spends time in prison for evading tax. They would rather someone else shoulder the responsibility. We have soldiers that go off to war to fight for freedom, fighting a brutal physical battle, but it seems intellectuals are such cowards when it comes to fighting battles against lesser minds. You might ask why? I think the reason is that they have no army. They are not organized. They are all frustrated individuals who live in hope, and just keep their heads down. Ducking for cover.

People of different countries of course have different attitudes towards paying tax. Americans ans Chinese seem to have the greatest contempt for taxes. Americans are the most vocal in expressing their contempt for them. In fact the US constitution gives the US government no power to tax ordinary citizens, only companies. Yet that has not stopped the US government from doing just that. You might ask why it happened. Clearly there are political leaders who have little regard for the role of the constitution, and still less respect for reason, that they feel compelled to disregard people’s rights and just impose laws that they are not legally entitled to enact. See the documentary for more information.

Why taxation is wrong?

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I have a lot of built up anxiety related to the notion of paying tax. I just can't get used to the idea of paying tax. This isn't some silly childish position. Yes, I know there are practical reasons why we should...well actually I could only think of might just keep me out of prison, but you know prisons are expensive, and I just think that if just 40-50,000 odd Australians refused to pay tax, that would be all it would take to undermine the fascists running government. So what are my justifications for opposing taxation.....

  1. Public externalities - Having a pool of public money results in positive externalities, eg. Public swimming pools get built and everyone gets to share the benefit, so there is a community profit. True enough if the pool is well located. But often such public infrastructure is poorly spent or spent to appease certain interest groups for political motives, not because it makes commercial sense. These expenses are made for marginal votes, not general benefit of all people, and seldom with some strategy for public good in mind. Its for the politicians good.
  2. Experienced leaders - Well I think few politicians actually demonstrate the kind of values that I would want to see in a politician. They have no integrity clear enough because they have signed onto political parties which requires them to sell their souls for greater power. Most politicians are career politicians, so they really lack life and commercial experience. They have always had the support of public money and the party. Its all about getting along, saying one thing, and doing another. They are not critical thinkers so they have to rely on the opinions of vested interests, so they make bad decisions, eg. Defence contracts that need not have cost billions, dubious strategies that have us invading countries with no plans.
  3. The unethical treatment - The fact that the tax office seems to wield this power of its own, and can take money from your bank account. They are hardly accountable. Where is the justification for it. I dont care if my money is expropriated by 1% of Australians or 51% of Australians, its still a crime to take people's money. The tax act is inconsistent with common law. It was a rationalisation created to preserve the power of unjust government. We are governed by parasitical politicians, not by statesmen. These parasites have no interest in solving crime, poverty. They have a vested interest in you believing that they are capable of it. Yet it always remains elusive. Perceptions are made more important than reality.
  4. Impact on people: Taxation or public tax receipts promises so much, but actually takes something away from people. It undermines people's sense of justice, their sense of empathy, their sense of objectivity, it undermines reason as a standard of value, subjugating it to mob rule, albeit a more organised and farcical variant. It creates a sense of entitlement and ultimately is a force for the spread of collectivism. The paradox is that whilst government is sponsoring 'democratic collectivism' abroad in the name of 'freedom', it is undermining actual freedoms, and attacking individualism at home. Does anyone really think modern civilisation is defended in Iraq? Yeah Iraq is a frontier to fight for freedom, but I'm more concerned about the cancer in western society.
  5. Guilt ridden society: The concept of taxation actually engenders a sense of envy in benefactors for accepting something that they are not capable of producing, whilst at the same time engendering a sense of guilt in those that question the moral legitimacy of taxation. Sadly too few people have the conceptual capacity to disect the rationalisations. It really turns society intellectually into a society of perpetrators and parasites, so we even have traditional producers like business looking for hand-outs, government favours or privileges. Its hard to know where is justice, as a great deal of reality is lost trying to preserve the myth that this is system is moral.
  6. Concept of humanity: It actually implies a pretty negative concept of humanity, the idea that humans dont respond to reason, that the mob will always have the upper hand.

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