The Atlantic has just published an article by Rene Chun, a contributing editor at Wired magazine, that perfectly demonstrates political obtuseness. Entitled “Why Americans Don’t Cheat on Their Taxes,” the point of the article is to explain why Americans have a high compliance rate with respect to the payment of income taxes.
Chun’s explanation? Patriotism and loyalty. That’s what his thesis boils down to. Unlike such European countries as Italy and Greece, he says, Americans have a deep devotion to government and feel morally compelled to pay their taxes. He says that Americans feel “obliged to pay.” He says that Americans have an 84 percent “voluntary compliance rate,” which he attributes to a high “tax morale” among the American people.
What is absolutely amazing is that Chun doesn’t even mention the real reason for this “voluntary” compliance rate: The IRS, one of the most tyrannical and feared governmental agencies in history, along with the Justice Department, both of which are ready and eager to harass, audit, abuse, arrest, prosecute, incarcerate, and fine any American who fails to “voluntarily” pay his income taxes.
In fact, when he was writing his article surely Chun was familiar with the federal criminal prosecution of Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign manager. Among the charges that the feds were going after him for was income-tax evasion. Even though Chun finished his article before Manafort’s sentencing, he had to know that the feds were seeking a high sentence in the event they secured a conviction. At Manafort’s sentencing hearing a few days ago, he got slammed with a 4-year jail sentence. And he was lucky because the feds urged the judge to sentence him to 20 years.
Make no mistake about it: Not only were the feds hoping to “turn” Manafort with testimony against Trump, they were also using Manafort to send a message to other high-income earners: Pay your taxes or else. That’s what passes for “voluntary” in the mind of a statist.
Sure, there was also a bank-fraud charge against Manafort but the real crime in the eyes of federal officials was the income-tax charge. By cheating on his taxes — or by not “voluntarily” complying with the mandatory federal income tax laws — Manafort deprived the welfare-warfare state of desperately needed funds to pay for its socialist, interventionist, and imperialist programs. You know, things like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education grants, farm subsidies, foreign aid to dictators, the military-industrial complex, Pentagon, CIA, NSA, secret surveillance, torture, assassinations, military tribunals, and forever wars.
What could be worse than that, from the standpoint of statists? For them, everything in life revolves around the maintenance and sustenance of their beloved welfare-warfare state way of life. From their standpoint, everyone in life exists to serve this massive collective. For them, everyone works to serve the welfare-warfare state. For the statist, that’s everyone’s purpose in life.
Voluntary? Don’t make me laugh. Chun is obviously a classic example of a public-school success story, a place where children’s minds are inculcated with fairy tales when it comes to the beloved welfare-warfare state. It is obvious that he really believes that the payment of income-taxes is voluntary.
Permit me to educate him on what “voluntary” means. If there were no taxes, people would be free to decide whether to support government or not. No one would be forced to fund the government’s operations.
Consider churches, for example. No one is forced to donate to them. The law doesn’t require people to contribute to churches. The church doesn’t have the authority to seize people’s money. Support of churches is voluntary.
Payment of income taxes, on the other hand, is not voluntary. If you refuse to pay your taxes, they will come after you with everything they have. The IRS will seize your assets, impose liens on your home, garnish your bank accounts, harass you at work, and, together with the Justice Department, will secure a federal indictment against you, prosecute you, and try to get you sentenced to at least 20 years in a federal penitentiary.
That’s why most people pay their taxes. They don’t want to have their assets seized by the IRS. They don’t want to be harassed and abused. They don’t want to go to jail and get hit with an exorbitant fine.
For more than a century, Americans lived without income taxation. That’s what our American ancestors called freedom — a way of life that that was income-tax-free and one that was welfare-warfare-state free. In fact, if the proponents of the Constitution had told our American ancestors that the new federal government that was being proposed by the Constitutional Convention had a progressive income tax, a welfare state, and a warfare state, there is no possibility that they would have approved the deal. That would have meant that the United States would have continued operating under the Articles of Confederation, a governmental structure where the federal government lacked the power to tax at all. Even with the Constitution and the new federal government it called into existence, the American people lived without income taxation for more than 125 years.
Americans would be wise to reject the statist nonsense spouted by Chun and the Atlantic and, at the very least, restore America’s founding principle of an income-tax free society.