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Old December 12th, 2012, 04:33 AM   #1

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Taxation as a moral issue

Politicians in the UK, as well as in various places around Europe have recently been saying that the payment of taxes is a moral issue.

PM David Cameron has condemned the tax arrangements of comedian Jimmy Carr as "morally wrong" when Carr was found to be a member of a completely legal tax avoidance scheme.

Starbucks, Amazon and Google have been singled out by politicians for not paying enough UK corporate tax. Starbucks has paid no corporation tax in the UK for the last 3 years, and have announced that they will pay £20 million over the next couple of years, regardless of profitability, in a response to customer outcry. But in its own response, the tax office has said that payment of taxation is not an optional choice that companies can choose to do to satisfy their customers.

Amazon and Google have said they pay all the taxes that they are liable for under all jurisdictions that they operate in. It's surprising - or perhaps not surprising - how many companies are have their European headquarters in Luxembourg.

French film star Gerard Depardieu has moved to Belgium to avoid a French wealth tax, payable by people with over £1 million in assets, as well as a 75% top rate of tax. The French Prime Minister has described the move as "shabby", and has said that "paying tax is an act of solidarity, a patriotic act."

What do you think? Is it wrong for people to use perfectly legal means to avoid paying as much tax as possible? If YOU could or do reduce the amount of tax you pay by using the law to your advantage, would you and do you see it as morally wrong?

Are politicians wrong to link taxation and morality? Is it just a legal matter? If they don't want people using the law to their advantage, should they just write better laws instead?

So that we can be clear, tax avoidance is using the law to pay as little tax as possible, and is perfectly legal, whereas tax evasion, which is not paying taxes that you should do is illegal, and is not part of the scope of this discussion.
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Old December 12th, 2012, 06:10 AM   #2
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Let me put it this way:
It is morally right to have a law that enforces taxation.
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Old December 12th, 2012, 06:41 AM   #3
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Everytime a claim rests on empty legalism you can be sure a politician will add the word 'moral' in there.
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Old December 12th, 2012, 07:02 AM   #4
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It doesn't seem possible to force someone to feel like they are so much a part of a culture that they would pay any amount requested of them to stay.

It would be a lot better for governments to focus on eliminating incentives to collect huge pots of money in the first place, instead of taxing them to oblivion once they have been collected.
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Old December 12th, 2012, 08:25 AM   #5
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The power to tax is the power to destroy. It is also the way to finance what you want with Other Peoples' Money.
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Old December 12th, 2012, 09:50 AM   #6
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You can not have civilization without governance, and taxation funds governance.

The problem of morality versus legality comes wrapped in the fact that wealthy individuals and large corporations purposefully spend large sums of money to influence legislation in ways that create, speciicaly for them, or their industries, means to evade taxation.

these means are unavailable to the majority of income earners, and constitute a method whereby the wealthy Shift the burden of paying for governance that the wealthy derive greater benefit from, onto the shoulders of those who derive Less benefit.

Thus, here in the States we have an entire party utterly dedicated to pushing the interests of the wealthy- even to the point of holding the Nations credit rating hostage, and undermining economic recovery, for the sole purpose of preserving a tax code that has resulted in the greatest income inequality in the past 100 years, and the literal decimation of the middle class.

It is ridiculously inequitable that the 5% who claim 70% of ALL income pay HALF the tax rate that the lower 95% pay on 30% of all income.
It is even more ridiculous that they only pay that small rate on the small portion of income that they actually admit to... the portion they could Not otherwise shelter, offshore, or tie up in tax exempt strategies or cons.

So, yes. It is a moral issue when folks who have way more than they actually need to live on complain about paying a fair share for the civilization that has done so very well by them.

None of these billionaires are self made men. They derive their fortunes from inheritances, from the infrastructure and trade laws provided by Governments, from tax incentives and breaks that governments offer to spur economic development... and, frankly, from massive corporate welfare in which governments pay their industries and businesses directly, using public funds.

There is nothing wrong with the rich collecting huge pits of money... it is an incentive to produce.
But Capitalism is a zero sum game... left to itself ALL money would collect into one or two pools, and leave everyone else with nothing.

That is not an economy. An economy is the circulation of money.

In the USA of the 1950's the wealthy's income over a certain large amount was taxed at 90%. And they STILL got richer. Their inheritances were taxed as well... policies that pulled money out of those large pools and redirected it into the blue collar jobs that built the interstate highways system.

This caused growth in the middle class and the reduction of poverty. And that, plus the economic infrastructure of the new highways literally Tripled the GDP of the US.
EVERYONE got richer... Because taxation was used effectively to take money out of large pools and rain it down onto the dry highland of our economic terrain.

From there it flowed thru the pockets of tens of millions of people, buying goods and services, ALL of which, ultimately, funneled profits back into the pockets of the wealthy.

The idea that the rich or corporations should be allowed to evade taxation, or that taxation is a bad thing is fundamentally imbecilic.

There is NO economic model that actually works, without a government acting as regulator, tax collector, and monetary re-distributor.
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Old December 12th, 2012, 10:08 AM   #7

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There are plenty of people who do not fall into the category of "rich" who use legal tax avoidance to minimise the amount of tax they pay.
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Old December 12th, 2012, 10:16 AM   #8

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I think that there can be legal ways of exploiting loopholes in the tax laws that count morally as a form of tax evasion, enabling people with high earnings to avoid making their proper contribution. But I don't see anything wrong otherwise in trying to minimise what one pays in tax.
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Old December 12th, 2012, 10:23 AM   #9

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i wouldnt go as far as to say that taxation is immoral but definitely not a desirable thing.
a state should be an intermediator between people not a tyrant putting his hands inside its citizens' pockets. why do i have to pay VAT? why do i have to pay road tax? if i have a car then i can pay a "road fee" not a tax for i am using the roads. you get the idea.
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Old December 12th, 2012, 10:34 AM   #10

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Taxes are a necessity to civilization as a whole. Society needs to function at some sort of collective group and the way some people are pushing for further individualism is, to me, a shameful disgrace.

Taxation needs not to be increased but needs to be reformed. Tax avoidance needs to be reduced, to near nothing for corporations. It's pathetic how businesses get richer, the poor get poorer, then the poor want the removal of taxes and elimination of welfare and the government. Christ, as if they don't understand the businesses control the government and are turning the working class against one another. That's, to me, is a shameful disgrace as I mentioned in my first paragraph.

The government is the working man's best ally against injustice. But we cannot separate politicians and the political process, resorting to blaming the entire system for the greed of the politicians.

The United States badly needs tax reform and needs far harsher punishments for fleeing capitalists. That French actor, made his career by the payment of French citizens in French threaters, wants to leave France so he doesn't pay taxes for benefits to the French citizens? It's a disgrace.

But oh well. If corruption doesn't end, tax code isn't going to change anyway. The least we can do is not vote Republican.
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