February 15, 2015

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Now, he was not accused of paying no tax; he was accused of having paid less tax than if other arrangements had been made. There is no suggestion that he did anything illegal; he and his family took advantage of the tax laws as they stood at the time, as many people do, and as many people think it right to do for the sake of their children. Not everything that is legal is moral, and to think otherwise is to hand total power over human life to the government. Moreover, Mr. Miliband is in theory in favor of higher taxes, particularly on the rich such as he, and has made appealing to the envious a large part of his electoral platform, so that he can be branded a hypocrite.

But it would a very severe judge indeed who condemned a man for trying to preserve his money or property from appropriation by the tax authorities, for if death and taxes are two constants of human existence, so are tax avoidance and evasion. Very few people seek to maximize their tax payments; there has been no peasant revolt in favor of higher taxes; and those who do not try to avoid tax are usually those not in a position to do so, or to whom it would make very little difference by comparison with the effort necessary to do it. Tax is no doubt the consequence of human nature, but so is tax avoidance. 

The economic worldview being promoted by the deliberate conflation of tax avoidance and tax evasion is that the first call on anyone’s money is that of the state. Tax avoidance and tax evasion are in essence the same because everyone has a duty to pay as much tax as he can: the Earth is the state’s and the fulness thereof. Everyone has the right only to what the state thinks ought to be left to him after it has taken what it considers its share; all our money is, in effect, pocket money, doled out by the government-parent to the citizen-child. We are the wards, not the masters, of the state.   


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