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Are Taxes Voluntary?





ocalhoun
On a related note, apparently Senator Harry Ried agrees with Handfleisch about this-- that taxes are not forcibly taken from anyone.

He 'objects to the phraseology' of saying the government 'forcibly takes' money from anyone.
And he insists that the US has a 'voluntary tax system'... apparently because we fill out tax returns and because some people get deductions.

(Favorite quote from video: "You don't go to jail [for not paying taxes], some people go to jail...")


Can someone explain this incomprehensible viewpoint to me, or do these people live in a fantasy world where everybody voluntarily donates money to the government because they love it so much?
handfleisch
Many grumble, but most know that taxes are a normal part of modern life that ensures our standard of living, and pay them willingly.
ocalhoun
Just trying to heavily emphasize a point I feel strongly about.
handfleisch
ditto
Bikerman
[Moderator - I agree that this should be in a separate thread and have split postings accordingly - Bikerman]
deanhills
handfleisch wrote:
Many grumble, but most understand that taxes help them and their families and societies.
When people fly into buildings because of issues with the IRS, then I can't understand how voluntary paying taxes could be. I have a cousin who lost a whole business because of the IRS, I'm sure he will laugh really hard when he hears about a reference to paying taxes being voluntary. The tax system of the United States is so very complicated for people who own private businesses, they may think they are doing well the one day, and then the next day discover taxes that they had no idea they should have paid. In other words, to have a private business you have to employ a professional accountant, and possibly a professional lawyer as well. "Voluntary" is not really voluntary, in fact it is sneaky. You pay one set of taxes, and the next day hear about taxes you should have paid and had not heard about. Imagine working through the reams of IRS legislation to figure out where you really stand, and they seem to be moving in the exact same direction with the new Health Care Reform Bill as well. When that Bill gets legislated I would hate to own a small business that employs people, imagine the paperwork alone in all of this.

I can understand where Reid is coming from as technically in comparison with other countries there is not a general holdback tax in the United States. He regards the filling in of a form a voluntary act. But maybe compulsory voluntary would be more appropriate wording for filling in that form.
handfleisch
deanhills wrote:
handfleisch wrote:
Many grumble, but most understand that taxes help them and their families and societies.
When people fly into buildings because of issues with the IRS, then I can't understand how voluntary paying taxes could be.


I don't think we have anything to learn from terrorists, from a madman murdering people in an act of suicide bombing, whether he's a religious zealot, an anti-tax wacko or whatever the reason.
deanhills
handfleisch wrote:
I don't think we have anything to learn from terrorists, from a madman murdering people in an act of suicide bombing, whether he's a religious zealot, an anti-tax wacko or whatever the reason.
If you studied his circumstances, you would have found a completely law abiding citizen whom everyone liked. He was your very normal average Joe. Not a terrorist. He was driven to extreme levels however because of the tax system. There is no doubt about that.

That was not the main point of my posting however, we were discussing whether the tax system is voluntary, with reference to the interview with Reid.
handfleisch
deanhills wrote:
handfleisch wrote:
I don't think we have anything to learn from terrorists, from a madman murdering people in an act of suicide bombing, whether he's a religious zealot, an anti-tax wacko or whatever the reason.
If you studied his circumstances, you would have found a completely law abiding citizen whom everyone liked. He was your very normal average Joe. Not a terrorist. He was driven to extreme levels however because of the tax system. There is no doubt about that.

That is not the main discussion of my posting however.


No, he was deranged, you should do more research.

I was not trying to change the subject to terrorism, but you cited this man's actions as proof in your argument, so it was a legitimate reply.
deanhills
handfleisch wrote:
I was not trying to change the subject to terrorism, but you cited this man's actions as proof in your argument, so it was a legitimate reply.
Fair enough, I have commented on this in the Man flies into building thread. Iam curious to know what your opinion is whether the tax system of the United States is voluntary or not? Do you think Reid's point is valid?
ocalhoun
handfleisch wrote:
Many grumble, but most know that taxes are a normal part of modern life that ensures our standard of living, and pay them willingly.


But what of the people who would rather not pay? Is it voluntary for them?
jmi256
ocalhoun wrote:
handfleisch wrote:
Many grumble, but most know that taxes are a normal part of modern life that ensures our standard of living, and pay them willingly.


But what of the people who would rather not pay? Is it voluntary for them?



Of course it’s not “voluntary.” The claim that they are proves one of two things: Either liberals are so ignorant of how the tax system works that actually believe that taxes are in any way voluntary. Or they are so dishonest and refuse to acknowledge the truth. Is there any other possibility?
I wonder if this small business owner would agree with the liberals’ claim that taxes are voluntary:
Quote:
Bob Shallit: IRS visits Sacramento carwash in pursuit of 4 cents
It was every businessperson's nightmare.

Arriving at Harv's Metro Car Wash in midtown Wednesday afternoon were two dark-suited IRS agents demanding payment of delinquent taxes. "They were deadly serious, very aggressive, very condescending," says Harv's owner, Aaron Zeff.

The really odd part of this: The letter that was hand-delivered to Zeff's on-site manager showed the amount of money owed to the feds was ... 4 cents.

Inexplicably, penalties and taxes accruing on the debt – stemming from the 2006 tax year – were listed as $202.31, leaving Harv's with an obligation of $202.35.

Zeff, who also owns local parking lots and is the president of the Midtown Business Association, finds the situation a bit comical.

"It's hilarious," he says, "that two people hopped in a car and came down here for just 4 cents. I think (the IRS) may have a problem with priorities."

Now he's trying to figure out how penalties and interest could climb so high on such a small debt. He says he's never been told he owes any taxes or that he's ever incurred any late-payment penalties in the four years he's owned Harv's.

In fact, he provided us with an Oct. 22, 2009, letter from the IRS that states Harv's "has filed all required returns and addressed any balances due."

IRS spokesman Jesse Weller isn't commenting "due to privacy and disclosure laws."

Zeff says he's as offended as much as anything else by what he considers rude behavior by the IRS guys. While at Harv's, he sniffs, "they didn't even get a car wash."

Source = http://www.sacbee.com/2010/03/13/2604016/irs-suits-pay-visit-to-car-wash.html
Moonspider
To borrow a page from President Clinton, it depends upon how you choose to define "voluntary."

It's just as voluntary as obeying the speed limit, committing murder, stealing, etc.

I can voluntarily choose to do whatever I want. However the laws in place insure that there are consequences, some severe, for not obeying the law.

Do I personally see taxes as "voluntary?" No. I'm required by law to pay my taxes. In some cases, like sales taxes, the tax is automatic.

That is not voluntary in my opinion. Donating to a church or charity is voluntary. Paying taxes is not.

Respectfully,
M
handfleisch
Moonspider wrote:
To borrow a page from President Clinton, it depends upon how you choose to define "voluntary."

It's just as voluntary as obeying the speed limit, committing murder, stealing, etc.

I can voluntarily choose to do whatever I want. However the laws in place insure that there are consequences, some severe, for not obeying the law.

Do I personally see taxes as "voluntary?" No. I'm required by law to pay my taxes. In some cases, like sales taxes, the tax is automatic.

That is not voluntary in my opinion. Donating to a church or charity is voluntary. Paying taxes is not.

Respectfully,
M


This is also my view, up to a point. Don't really understand the ending.

It's a not a simple thing. As your example mentions, I don't need laws to make me not murder, steal, etc. But do the existing laws mean I am "forced" not to murder, that it is not voluntary? I would say no. I voluntarily do not do those things, with or without the law.

Now, not paying taxes is not exactly in the same category as murder. But like most prohibitions, it is based on a generally accepted societal norm. Most everyone wants his neighbor to pay their taxes, not murder and drive sanely, because these things keep society together generally and maintain of everyday life specifically. So we agree on these things. There are those that disagree with some or all laws, but that is really just the way it goes. To me, it's the prohibitions of things like soft drugs that are truly wrong, that are forced upon people for the most wrong and corrupt reasons (I say this because I don't think it is a generally accepted societal norm -- I believe a thoughtful and in-depth analysis of American attitudes towards things like marijuana would show a positive majority to be for its legalization on its own, and then also due to the negative effects of criminalization. This doesn't hold so true for the other prohibitions.)
Bikerman
I think it isn't really much of a topic for this forum. In political terms then no, it isn't voluntary. There is compulsion/coercion - however you define it.
We could debate in the philosophy forum the nature of personal freedom and the extent to which ANY act is voluntary, but I feel that such a conversation here would be out of place....
ocalhoun
handfleisch wrote:

It's a not a simple thing. As your example mentions, I don't need laws to make me not murder, steal, etc. But do the existing laws mean I am "forced" not to murder, that it is not voluntary? I would say no. I voluntarily do not do those things, with or without the law.

And what of people who would not voluntarily do these things?
In your view, isn't the government then a system for enforcing 'generally accepted social norms'?
Sure, many people do these things voluntarily...
But there are some that only do these things because the government forces them to. (Or at least credibly threatens to force them to.)
Quote:

To me, it's the prohibitions of things like soft drugs that are truly wrong, that are forced upon people for the most wrong and corrupt reasons (I say this because I don't think it is a generally accepted societal norm -- I believe a thoughtful and in-depth analysis of American attitudes towards things like marijuana would show a positive majority to be for its legalization on its own, and then also due to the negative effects of criminalization. This doesn't hold so true for the other prohibitions.)

And taxes are never forced upon people for 'wrong and corrupt reasons'?
deanhills
ocalhoun wrote:
But there are some that only do these things because the government forces them to. (Or at least credibly threatens to force them to.)
A very good point. For example the enormous bail out package that put the citizens of the United States automatically in the red for 1.2-trillion dollars. The Bill was introduced like lightning with scarcely an opportunity to read it by the people of Congress, let alone a chance to share the contents with the people they are representing in Government.
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