Stealing from the government

A quote from Benjamin Franklin sparked my curiosity on the amount of people who feel it’s OK to “steal” from the government.

There is no kind of dishonesty into which otherwise good people more easily and frequently fall than that of defrauding the government

So I entered the following search into Google: “statistics cheating taxes”. Click the link to see the full results, but here’s a sampling:

cheating taxes — “101 ways to cheat on your taxes and not get caught”

tax cheating software

Leave No Tax Cheat Behind

I didn’t find any concise statistics (although I must admit that I really didn’t look very hard) . But obviously there is plenty of interest in cheating the government. I have a few friends that pride themselves in being able to hide earnings from the IRS. And it seems that others don’t condemn these actions. It’s as if when they hear of these triumphs over the evil IRS, they want to know the secrets in order to take advantage.

Is it really stealing? Is it truly dishonest? If there is a loophole in the tax laws that you are able to exploit, is it honest to take advantage of that loophole? After all, you are obeying the law.

I think most would agree that we need taxes. Without taxes, our communities, states and nations could not function. Roads would not exist (at least not in the condition we expect). We would have no such thing as parks. Schools would all be private and only those who are wealthy would be able to afford to send their children to acquire an elementary education.

We all complain about taxes because it’s a huge chunk of money that comes from our “hard earned” paycheck. So does that justify our desire to withhold the taxes we owe? Does it justify “stealing” from the government?

When we find loopholes in the tax laws, we are only hurting ourselves and our neighbors. If we don’t pay for the parks and schools, then the neighbors will. Some people are fine with “letting” the neighbors pay, but the truly honest will realize that it’s not right.

{democracy:2}

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7 Responses

  1. They tax you when your born, they tax you when you die, they tax you when you make money , they tax you when you spend money, they tax the large things you own, they force you to get insurance and then tax the insurance companies for your service, they tax you in on a recurring basis for your property, they even tax you for your airtime minutes on your cellular phone.

    And what do I get out of all that… A park taken over by thugs and hoodlums, a crappy freeway with construction on it all the time, a few public servants that actually give a hoot if my house burns down or some guy is going to kill me. But they get paid miserable wages and are told, “You don’t take this job for the money!”.

    So if I could find a tax loop and get away with it, I probably would.

  2. Dave W. says:

    Dan, the “tax gap” (between what’s owed and what’s paid) is estimated at about $290 billion. That’s nearly 10% of the nation’s annual budget. That’s a lot when only about 17% of the budget is discretionary.

  3. Reluctant says:

    Just to clarify, are you saying that the citizens overpay their taxes by $290 billion? WOW!

  4. Dave W. says:

    No, the tax gap is how much money that is owed but is NOT collected. In other words, about 10% of the govt’s supposed revenue is never collected. I’m sure this shortfall is built into the budget. Just imagine what good could be done (or what tax cuts could be RESPONSIBLY implemented) if people accepted their roles and paid their fair share.

  5. Dave W. says:

    Josh, how would using a loophole help all of the maladies you cite? Cheating the government isn’t going to clear the thugs out of the park or get civil servants to be paid what they deserve. It might end road construction, but then the freeway and surface streets would be even crappier and you’d be begging for construction. Saying that we’re “cheating the government” implies that taxes are money taken from us–taxes are the dues we pay to be a part of this great society. I’m the first to say they are often not spent well, but withholding taxes due is not the correct or moral way to improve their allocation.

  6. Dave W. says:

    By the way, referent to your poll, the rich will not pick up the tab. They are the ones who hire the best tax men in the business to find and exploit these loopholes. And (call me a cynic) I think some of the loopholes are put and left in place expressly for the use of the rich. Don’t count on the shortfall being pulled out of the banks in the Caymans.

  7. Oh my bit about the construction and otherwise was just my silly remark. I wasn’t taking the post very seriously. I didn’t really want to do the research to speak about how the tax dollars are spent for a $400 Hammer or how funds have been allocated for eduction, but the benefactors of those funds are all school administration, Deans or Presidents.

    But Mr Engineer wanted me to post to his blog so I did. =).

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