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Tax Avoidance

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At what point, if any, do you believe disobeying an immoral law would be moral?

When the processes that lead to rights violations can no longer be reversed through intelectual means meaning when ideas can no longer be freely exchanged. It is then that actions taken against the function of government become moral.

Maybe there is an individual context but one thing I do know is that tax evasion is not one of those situations.

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By this reasoning Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were traitors and outlaws as well. And they were, but does that make them immoral?

No. The were prepared to put their lives, liberty, and property on the line in defence of their position. I see little evidence that modern day tax evaders are prepared to do likewise.

I very often break osha regulations since their one size fits all restrictions cause no less then a 50% drop in productivity and very often put me at more physical risk then I would otherwise be. Am I also cheating? If so who? Should I go down to the osha office and say," I am going to break your laws when they put me in danger. Thought you should know." And then wait for them to put me out of business? All the while hoping that my principled stand will convince them of the error of their ways.

No. I am not asking anybody to fall on their sword. Nor am I here to defend govenment tax policy or regulatory policy. There are government regulations that I skirt as well, but I do not pretend that dont exist. I try to abide by them as best as possible and as often as possible. They are often contradictory, irrational, unnecessary or just plain incomprehensible. I try to operate within the legal framework, not outside of it.

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Maybe there is an individual context but one thing I do know is that tax evasion is not one of those situations.

I disagree with that assertion. I have known people in circumstances where they could avoid taxes without significant risk and did so for many years without consequence.

To state absolutely that one must always submit to the government is no different then saying one must always submit to the demands of an armed robber. Or one should always go to college. You can't determine absolutely that in all circumstances of a particular set, submission is the best policy. Context always applies to decisions we make and one answer does not fit all. You can believe that it is usually not in ones best interest to oppose the government and avoid the damage they cause, and I would agree with that. But that is a far cry from it being immoral because that implies that it is always the wrong decision.

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No. The were prepared to put their lives, liberty, and property on the line in defence of their position. I see little evidence that modern day tax evaders are prepared to do likewise.

That is what tax evaders are doing. Their lives,property, and liberty are on the line when they take those chances. They may lack the means to take a loud public stand but that isn't their responsibility. They are doing what they believe is best for them and refusing to sanction their attackers. Money being a far more powerful sanction then their words(not anyone's just theirs)

No. I am not asking anybody to fall on their sword. Nor am I here to defend govenment tax policy or regulatory policy. There are government regulations that I skirt as well, but I do not pretend that dont exist. I try to abide by them as best as possible and as often as possible. They are often contradictory, irrational, unnecessary or just plain incomprehensible. I try to operate within the legal framework, not outside of it.

If they are "contradictory, irrational, unnecessary" and immoral I would add, why is it immoral on the part of evaders to avoid them and not just a cost benefit analysis with a different outcome then you came to for yourself? If they acknowledge the risk and take it anyway, as bobsponge has undoubtedly done, where's the immorality?

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I disagree with that assertion. I have known people in circumstances where they could avoid taxes without significant risk and did so for many years without consequence.

How is your argument here different from the one presented by Garry in prudent predator tread?

To state absolutely that one must always submit to the government is no different then saying one must always submit to the demands of an armed robber.

I have already explained why those two are not the same.

Or one should always go to college. You can't determine absolutely that in all circumstances of a particular set, submission is the best policy.

Notice that I did not say that and even provided you with a scenario in which it is proper to take such action.

Context always applies to decisions we make and one answer does not fit all.

Consider what would happen if everyone thought that wheather or not laws should be followed depends on individual context and acted accordingly.

You can believe that it is usually not in ones best interest to oppose the government and avoid the damage they cause, and I would agree with that.

Again, I provided the principle behind it which goes beyond simply avoiding the damage in case of getting caught.

But that is a far cry from it being immoral because that implies that it is always the wrong decision.

I did not say that it is always immoral - most of the time it is - the consenquences of which will depend on context. If one feels they can afford such consequences - that is a different issue all together.

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That is what tax evaders are doing. Their lives,property, and liberty are on the line when they take those chances. They may lack the means to take a loud public stand but that isn't their responsibility. They are doing what they believe is best for them and refusing to sanction their attackers. Money being a far more powerful sanction then their words(not anyone's just theirs)

What they are doing is hoping they will fall through the cracks and even if they succeed - unjust laws still exist. That is not the same as taking an open stand against injustice.

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How is your argument here different from the one presented by Garry in prudent predator tread?

Because the "crime" in this circumstance is victimless. As with drug usage or osha regulations, the only possible harm is to oneself. For some people, the risk of wrongful incarceration is less upsetting then 5 months of slavery every year.

Consider what would happen if everyone thought that wheather or not laws should be followed depends on individual context and acted accordingly.

I would not apply this to all law enforcement. For example, if I thought a trial went the wrong way, I believe it would be immoral for the reasons you state to attack the defendant. This issue where an obviously immoral law creates a criminal where none exists is categorically different for me though.

Again, I provided the principle behind it which goes beyond simply avoiding the damage in case of getting caught.

I did not say that it is always immoral - most of the time it is - the consenquences of which will depend on context. If one feels they can afford such consequences - that is a different issue all together.

OK...I did not see before that you allowed for circumstance. I misunderstood you.

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What they are doing is hoping they will fall through the cracks and even if they succeed - unjust laws still exist. That is not the same as taking an open stand against injustice.

It isn't required of them to take a stand against injustice. One could devote their entire life and fortune to attempting to overturn a single immoral law. If someone chooses to do that, great for us, but it isn't a requirement for morality. He has no duty to do so. His only duty is to do what he perceives as best for himself. If he can make it so that he is free of the impact of the injustice in any manner, I think that is a wonderful thing. Sometimes the two are the same, but often times not.

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If they acknowledge the risk and take it anyway, as bobsponge has undoubtedly done, where's the immorality?

The immorality in my mind, beyond the utter disregard for the law, is that tax evasion is not a rational act. It is totally self-destructive. I have seen people loose everything because they wanted to cheat the system. All they succeeded in doing was cheat themselves out of a productive existence.

Only a fool, or a revolutionary would make such a choice. I dont see any modern day Jeffersons around anywhere, so I have to assume that most tax evaders are of the former variety. And as Sophia said, these people are not trying to change the system, they are trying to slip through the cracks. That reason alone should nullify any relationship between the founders and modern day tax evaders.

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Because the "crime" in this circumstance is victimless. As with drug usage or osha regulations, the only possible harm is to oneself. For some people, the risk of wrongful incarceration is less upsetting then 5 months of slavery every year.

If there is an injured party, including yourself, the action is not victimless and if choice was involved - morality applies. The conditions are not much different from prudent predator scenario in which the consequences of his actions on others are negligible. His actions, as with individual drug use, are still immoral (and they will remain so even if he never gets caught - don't you agree?).

Prudent predator relies on others living a productive life. Someone who knowingly breaks the law - relies on others not to do the same as it would negate the law and create anarchy. It is only because others are not choosing the same that the consequences of his actions seem affordable.

I would not apply this to all law enforcement. For example, if I thought a trial went the wrong way, I believe it would be immoral for the reasons you state to attack the defendant. This issue where an obviously immoral law creates a criminal where none exists is categorically different for me though.

The key here is that an individual can not be allowed a choice of which laws he will and will not obey as that would result in negation of the concept of law. What makes a criminal is not violation of a moral law but violation of law. Again it is not the faulty system but a faulty law and properly that is what ought to be fought.

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It isn't required of them to take a stand against injustice. One could devote their entire life and fortune to attempting to overturn a single immoral law. If someone chooses to do that, great for us, but it isn't a requirement for morality. He has no duty to do so. His only duty is to do what he perceives as best for himself. If he can make it so that he is free of the impact of the injustice in any manner, I think that is a wonderful thing. Sometimes the two are the same, but often times not.

I never said that they are required to do so. I was arguing against equating tax evaders actions with fighting injustice of taxes.

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The immorality in my mind, beyond the utter disregard for the law, is that tax evasion is not a rational act. It is totally self-destructive. I have seen people loose everything because they wanted to cheat the system. All they succeeded in doing was cheat themselves out of a productive existence.

Only a fool, or a revolutionary would make such a choice. I dont see any modern day Jeffersons around anywhere, so I have to assume that most tax evaders are of the former variety. And as Sophia said, these people are not trying to change the system, they are trying to slip through the cracks. That reason alone should nullify any relationship between the founders and modern day tax evaders.

The similiarity to the founding fathers is not nullified. Their actions were criminal acts of treason. I brought them up as an example of why obeying the law, as such, has nothing to do with morality. The context determines that.

I see 3 main arguments which you and Sophia have brought up.

1. That it is not rational because the consequences which can be imposed by an unjust government are too severe.

2. That one ought to obey the law simply because it is the law.

3. That because they do not necessarily act to eliminate the injustice for everyone else, their actions are unjustifiable.

In the case of number 1, I believe that it is a cost benefit analysis to be performed by each person individually and that all that can be said, is that for you personally, the risk of incarceration is worse then being a slave 5 months out of every year. Sometimes it works out for them, sometimes it does not. Without omniscience, though, I would hesitate to call it immorality even in circumstances where they are persecuted for their crimes. I would call it, rather, a mistake of knowledge.

Number 2 is the strongest argument because of the possibility of a descent into anarchy when no one obeys laws. While I agree with that principle generally, I see it as only applicable in circumstances which require the use of force by the perpetrator. In circumstances like tax evasion, drug use, disobeying osha regulations or euthanasia, no one is harmed except possibly the person committing the so called crime, and even then, mainly by an irrational group of people with a lust for power, and not by true consequences to their actions. Sophia's point that victimless crimes are not victimless, because the individual committing the crime is harmed, I wholeheartedly disagree with. They do suffer the consequences of their actions, but those consequences are chosen by them in trade for what they consider to be of more value. To call it a crime and to call them victims of it is too do a disservice to actual victims and to destroy the true concept of crime.

In the 3rd instance, performing an act or series of acts to help people generally, in order to achieve a moral state can be closer to altruism then rational self interest. Everyone else may in fact be helped by one individuals struggle, but that does not lend morality to it. The morality is derived from acting according to their best interests.

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If there is an injured party, including yourself, the action is not victimless and if choice was involved - morality applies. The conditions are not much different from prudent predator scenario in which the consequences of his actions on others are negligible. His actions, as with individual drug use, are still immoral (and they will remain so even if he never gets caught - don't you agree?).

It is victimless. I do not accept the notion that one can be one's own victim. (except maybe with multiple personality disorder, but that will really convolute the issue :thumbsup: ) I do not agree that drug use is necessarily immoral. Up front, I do no drugs. Not even alcohol. But I can conceive of situations where drugs might help to alleviate the pain of a chronic untreatible condition or even be used as a recreational device without harm to the individual. I think individuals are best at determining their own best interests.

Prudent predator relies on others living a productive life. Someone who knowingly breaks the law - relies on others not to do the same as it would negate the law and create anarchy. It is only because others are not choosing the same that the consequences of his actions seem affordable.

It's not the same at all. Nothing bad and everything good would come of everyone choosing not to pay taxes. It does not require everyone else to continue paying. It shines as an example of why everyone should not. How much better our lives could be with the other 40% of our paycheck.

The key here is that an individual can not be allowed a choice of which laws he will and will not obey as that would result in negation of the concept of law. What makes a criminal is not violation of a moral law but violation of law. Again it is not the faulty system but a faulty law and properly that is what ought to be fought.

That is what can be fought and should be fought if you are trying to change the world, but changing the world isn't on most peoples schedule. People who avoid paying the extortion money simply wish to live life on their own terms. Using spongebob as the example, he does not use many government services, and the few he does, he is more then willing to pay for. He simply does not wish to finance the corrupt banking monopoly or or communist beauracrats. He wants to live his life without being trampled over. He has no responsibility to become a martyr or attack the laws. His only responsibility is to himself. To live his own life. I am not harmed by his doing that and neither is anyone else.

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It is victimless. I do not accept the notion that one can be one's own victim. (except maybe with multiple personality disorder, but that will really convolute the issue :thumbsup: )

I think a person can be a victim of their own irrationality. Victim (someone injured by some action) does not mean that there is always someone else to blame for injury.

I do not agree that drug use is necessarily immoral.

Neither do I. We are arguing here the issue of morality and I was just pointing to the fact that even if the only harmed party is yourself (because you brought it up as an argument) - the act can still be immoral.

It's not the same at all. Nothing bad and everything good would come of everyone choosing not to pay taxes. It does not require everyone else to continue paying. It shines as an example of why everyone should not. How much better our lives could be with the other 40% of our paycheck.

Notice how you switched from breaking law to breaking this particular law (because it is a bad law). I have already pointed out the consequences of individuals choosing which law they will obey and which one they won't. That is the principle here and not the fact that this particular law should not exist (something we all agree).

That is what can be fought and should be fought if you are trying to change the world, but changing the world isn't on most peoples schedule. People who avoid paying the extortion money simply wish to live life on their own terms. Using spongebob as the example, he does not use many government services, and the few he does, he is more then willing to pay for. He simply does not wish to finance the corrupt banking monopoly or or communist beauracrats. He wants to live his life without being trampled over. He has no responsibility to become a martyr or attack the laws. His only responsibility is to himself. To live his own life. I am not harmed by his doing that and neither is anyone else.

Everyone is free to live their life on their own terms and make choices regardless of their moral or legal standing (as long as one is willing to pay the consequences). Neither you nor I are preventing spongebob from doing so. I will however not agree that what he is doing is moral (good for him) for reasons I already explained.

Edited by ~Sophia~

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Gruss Gott! What a can of worms this has become.

Let me clarify some things.

I do not oppose fair taxation. I oppose income taxation, its roots, and its current use. The US government needs to learn that it should not (A) shoot itself in the foot by taking an interest loan out for its own bloody currency, and (:thumbsup: should not bite the hand that feeds it. Income taxation is immoral on all counts, no matter how you chop it up or break it down, and none of you can argue against that fact. Turning-in of such a protestor would be immoral as well-- you'd be aiding in the removal of the rights of someone else by proxy-- someone who is protesting the immoral suppression of his rights in the first place. Support of income taxation is also immoral for the same reasons. Opposition or protesting of an immoral law by noncompliance is not immoral. It's called civil disobedience, and it happens all the time. It's how Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus, and how the patriots dumped tea into Boston Harbor. It's how Ghandi sat down in nonviolent protest. Just because a law is on paper does not make it right. The acts of the Nazis were legal in Germany, yet they denied people their basic human rights. Did that make it ok?

In closing, I'd like to add something, oddly enough from Malcolm X: "You're not to be so blind with patriotism that you can't face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it."

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3. That because they do not necessarily act to eliminate the injustice for everyone else, their actions are unjustifiable.

This is not my argument. You equated tax evasion with fighting injustice. I was adressing that statment by pointing out that it is no such thing.

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I read on this forum something which I agree with so I will repeat:

Tax evasion among many other things is a sacrifice of a higher value for a lesser one. One is placing their grip on life, liberty, and the pursuit of hapiness in a grave danger in order to preserve X amount of dollars.

Edited by ~Sophia~

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Tax evasion among many other things is a sacrifice of a higher value for a lesser one. One is placing their grip on life, liberty, and the pursuit of hapiness in a grave danger in order to preserve X amount of dollars.
To you, tax evasion is risking life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

To another, preserving X amount of one's own dollars is a means to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

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To you, tax evasion is risking life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

To another, preserving X amount of one's own dollars is a means to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is all well and good for them to say that, and great if they can somehow avoid paying taxes and not go to prison or have some other huge crippling penalty thrown on them. But I would find it pretty hard to conceive of a situation where refusing to pay taxes and having to suffer the usually severe consequences of continuing this, would be worth it. Making a moral stand is one thing, but at the cost of your life when I do not see it making much difference at this stage? I dont see that as particulary rational.

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This is not my argument. You equated tax evasion with fighting injustice. I was adressing that statment by pointing out that it is no such thing.

It's not fighting injustice. It is refusing to sanction it with the product of your labor.

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I think a person can be a victim of their own irrationality. Victim (someone injured by some action) does not mean that there is always someone else to blame for injury.

I do not believe that to be a correct use of the term in the current context. To equate being one's own victim with someone being an actual victim of wrong doing opens the law to all manner of irrationality including but not limited to the horrible laws I brought up earlier.

Neither do I. We are arguing here the issue of morality and I was just pointing to the fact that even if the only harmed party is yourself (because you brought it up as an argument) - the act can still be immoral.

It can be immoral(not in your best interests) but that has no proper connection to it's legality. Any harm an individual incurs through their own actions is the only price which ought to be paid. That point was in response to the claim that tax evaders are "cheaters", which implies some harm to someone outside of themselves. Because the breaking of these laws only affects oneself, the comparison to cheating in a fair game with agreed upon rules is not helpful.

Notice how you switched from breaking law to breaking this particular law (because it is a bad law). I have already pointed out the consequences of individuals choosing which law they will obey and which one they won't. That is the principle here and not the fact that this particular law should not exist (something we all agree).

There was no switch. I am differentiating between breaking a law which has an impact on other people and noncompliance with edicts from the master. I have stated repeatedly that I do not advocate anarchy or taking the law into your own hands. Not paying taxes is not an act. It is a refusal to act. Refusing to act is categorically different from acting in order to enforce a law or break a law which restricts behaviour. It's a very clear differentiation.

Everyone is free to live their life on their own terms and make choices regardless of their moral or legal standing (as long as one is willing to pay the consequences). Neither you nor I are preventing spongebob from doing so. I will however not agree that what he is doing is moral (good for him) for reasons I already explained.

I don't suppose you or I know enough about him and his circumstances to make that assessment. I have known people for whom it did and did not work out. His belief, obviously, is that it is in his best interests and that the likelihood of getting caught is small for him. It is entirely possible that an individual is clever enough to avoid a gaggle of government bureaucrats.

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I read on this forum something which I agree with so I will repeat:

Tax evasion among many other things is a sacrifice of a higher value for a lesser one. One is placing their grip on life, liberty, and the pursuit of hapiness in a grave danger in order to preserve X amount of dollars.

Let's say I am a good boy. I work real hard. 70-80 hours a week for the whole of my life. Pay all my bills and then give the communist, thieves all of my discretionary income. So I don't go to school, or start a new business, or retire early and take up painting or whatever else I might have wanted to do with the excess value of productivity. Instead, I work like a slave for 47 years, give them the 40% of my income that matters most because it makes life worth living, retire and die 10 minutes later wondering what the hell the point was.

Now this doesn't describe my life and circumstances but it describes that of the majority of people in the US. Median income here is 30K/ year at a job they don't like and can't escape. That means the average guy takes home about $20K a year if he's lucky. Take out rent, food, and electricity and there's not much left. It's existence and not living in what most would consider a meaningful sense of the word. So again...maybe for you, risking you life, liberty, and happiness is not worth X amount of dollars, but for others, getting back that 3rd of their life... that discretionary money and time, and living a full life for as long as they can get away with it(which I know for a fact can be done for long periods of time-even indefinately ) is worth the risk of a few years in a federal prison.

If any tax evader can get away with it, shelter the money in offshore accounts and have it well invested, he might be comparing 2 years in federal prison to retiring 20 years sooner to pursue his passions. Prison aint that bad when you add up the math. 2 years in federal prison as compared to 20 years of hard labor for the benefit of someone else? See what I mean. People have different values and different tolerances for risk and discomfort. Your own standards determine the relative value of these values and disvalues. People can be and are different and as a result the right answer may be very different for you then someone else. That doesn't make it the wrong answer.

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It's not fighting injustice. It is refusing to sanction it with the product of your labor.

A forced compliance does not constitute a sanction.

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A forced compliance does not constitute a sanction.

You are probably right about that. What I meant by sanction was that it lends support to that which you find to be opposed to your existence. So in my example above, the poor fellow who loses his $10,000 of discretionary income might utilize his remaining freedom of speech and voice his opposition to said theft, but cannot voice it nearly as loud as his $10,000 voices support of the theft in the form of a radio commercial or add in a newspaper by the looters. So we get this self-perpetuating system where money is taken and the means of disseminating information (schools, newspapers,etc) are owned or tightly controlled by those opposed to freedom. The stolen wealth and confiscated properties amount in actuality to a limitation on free speech. It's only a less obvious and more insidious way of doing it then an overt tyranny would attempt.

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