After a day and a half writing to people twittering about #welovethenhs, my co-evangelist brought the following post to my attention:
@axiomthree you're comparing a violent act to taxation. There's a bit of a difference there.
With which I responded
@axiomthree Ask @lanej0 how violent things get when you refuse to pay your taxes. Hiring a crew to rob for you in uniform, that's taxation.
Naturally, Mr. Lane saw my post and had something to say about it
@Drizzten I got a letter asking me to kindly pay my taxes. Does that count as violence?
Thus began our chat about taxation, state power, and, as of right now, a few other interrelated subjects. To both bring you up to speed and save unnecessary clicking, here is the conversation we had in instant message format:
Charles (Drizzten): Write your own kindly letter telling them you've got better things to do with your own money. Keep telling them that and see how long it takes until the deputies show up with guns and handcuffs.
Jonathan (lanej0): interesting idea. I think that the one officer on the island probably has better things to so though.
Charles: I'm absolutely serious. Tell them calmly that you won't pay any income, property, or sales taxes. Watch how you, via no action endangering or hurting anyone somehow becomes a criminal. Indeed, you merely stated your refusal. For merely claiming what's already yours. Taxation is mundane-it's-so-routine, delayed, 3rd party theft.
Jonathan: I guess the difference is that I voluntarily pay because I know that that money is being put to a common good
Charles: So the ends (the ever-elusive common good) justify the means (forcing other Canadians to pay up).
Jonathan: I guess. I think of itmore in terms of insurance. You pay into it so that it's there if you ever need it
Jonathan: two kids delivered in hospital, and haven't had a massive bill to pay afterward. Family with cancer that still own their homes.
Charles: You certainly pay (because you support it), but suppose my Canadian cousin refused (for whatever reasons). Should he be ultimately subjected to arrest, confinement, and asset forfeiture if he continues to refuse to pay for everyone else's services?
Jonathan: If that's what the majority agrees to (I would wager that the majority of Canadians support our health care system).
Charles: I hope you don't mean that because I think that's a horrifying, contradictory argument. Deserves a full blog to discuss further.
Jonathan: It's extremely difficult to discuss via 140 char snippets. What I mean is that ideally laws are enacted through majority rule
Charles: Mind holding that thought? I'll whip up a proper post tomorrow if you'd like to continue.
Let me first refine my reaction to Jonathan's initial post. He is not strictly incorrect. There is
"a bit of difference" between violence and taxation. Violence in this context is a concept regarding how humans treat one another. This concept helps identify the instances when a human either touches or causes another object to touch another human without their permission in a way that does or may cause injury. In other words, and as my friend put it
that inspired Jonathan to make that initial post, "[robbing] a bank or an individual to get the money for my health care." Robbery occurs when someone threatens violence (or demonstrates it) against property owners and bystanders in order to coerce the property from the owner.
So what is taxation? Here's where I exit the conventional wisdom and enter the unsettling land of Extremism. Please bear with me.
Taxation as an idea is much more specific than violence. Taxation typically refers to a type of multi-party property transaction. In this transaction, an original property owner is supposed to give an organization called the government some amount of property (normally a quantity of money). The government says it will use that money for various activities which will probably generate some pragmatic or moral outcome. The government may say paying this amount is part of what keeps society possible, it may say paying this amount will help alleviate suffering or injustice, and it may even say paying this amount is an outright duty the owner owes to the government.
But, above all, the government says the owner should pay this amount because failure to do so will mean the government will get violent with the owner and it would be wrong for the owner to resist or retaliate against that violence. As I said to Jonathan, if you don't believe me, just watch what happens when you don't pay taxes.
Tax-Cheat Showdown: Fess Up or Stay Quiet?
There is no statute of limitations in the tax code for fraud. For those who want to keep the account, he said, "I remind them that they are committing felonies each year when they sign their tax return."
1,200 R.I. businesses face closure over sales tax
Copyright ©2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved
State tax officials have put more than 1,200 businesses across the state on notice this week that they are out of business unless they pay their overdue sales taxes immediately.
Tax inspectors given broad new powers to fight illegal tobacco
For most, that action came in the form of a personal visit from the state Division of Taxation, ordering business owners to lock their doors at once.
The letters hand-delivered by the hundreds this week reiterated the message that owners are now operating without a permit and that under state law “each officer of any corporation which so engages in business shall be guilty of a misdemeanor” for which they can be fined up to $5,000 and imprisoned for up to a year.
“Each day in which such person so engages in business shall constitute a separate offense,” the letter says.
© 2009 , Published by The Providence Journal Co.
The new act will also allow the provincial treasury to add an additional fine up to five times the tax that would have been payable on the illegal tobacco.
Debunking tax myths
Six hundred cartons of contraband tobacco, seized earlier this week in North Bedeque, would carry more than $20,000 in taxes.
Under the current law, the individual could be charged that $20,000.
The new act, if passed, would see the tax bill increase five-fold to $100,000 plus the fine.
Those charged could also be jailed and vehicles used in the importation of contraband cigarettes, whether it be a car, boat or plane, could also be impounded.
© The Guardian
(emphasis in the original):
There is no question that voluntary compliance is the cornerstone of Canada's self-assessment taxation system. This simply means that the government expects you to respect the law and comply fully with your tax obligations.
RCMP find $400,000 worth of cigarettes in truck
This approach does not imply that the law cannot be enforced if necessary. The Income Tax Act and other laws provide a range of penalties for offences such as tax evasion, failure to pay taxes, failure to disclose income, or refusing to file a tax return. These penalties can include fines, third-party claims, seizures, and criminal prosecution.
RCMP found 150 cases of illegal, unmarked cigarettes in plastic bags and 25 cases of "discount" brand cigarettes when the rental truck was stopped in the West Hawk Lake area.
Buying a Home in France: Prices and Fees
None of the cigarettes had proper tax stamps. The man could face fines up to $5,000, up to three months in jail, or a tax penalty of more than $970,000.
© 2009 Winnipeg Free Press. All Rights Reserved.
Don't be tempted by the French ‘custom' of tax evasion, where the sale price declared to the tax authorities (prix déclaré) is reduced by an ‘under the table' (sous la table) cash payment. If you're buying a property direct from the vendor, he may suggest this, particularly if he's selling a second home and must pay capital gains tax on the profit. (Obviously if the vendor can show a smaller profit, he pays less tax.) You'll also save money on taxes and fees, though you'll have a higher capital gains tax bill when you sell if it's a second home.
You should steer well clear of this practice, which is illegal. If you under-declare the price, the authorities can revalue the property and demand that you pay the shortfall in tax plus interest and fines. They can even prosecute you for fraud, in which case you can receive a prison sentence! The authorities can also decide to buy a property at the under-declared price plus 10 per cent within three months of the date of purchase.
© 2009 Parisvoice
Some jurisdictions have more paperwork and levels of procedure than others, but every functioning state will follow through with it's threats. Persistent tax resistance will eventually net you a visit from law enforcement to do exactly what that title says. The issue becomes crystal-clear if you begin resisting the arrest. Police have special immunity from prosecution and are professionally trained to use physical violence against others in their (and the military's) capacity as the ultimate instruments of government power.
Strike an officer - even in objective self-defense - and watch the hammer drop.
None of this should come as a surprise to anyone who pauses and thinks about it. Without the threat of police violence, many laws would be ignored outright. How much money would government revenue bureaus receive if these payments were actually voluntary? It does not take many demonstrations of the government's willingness to use this power for the majority of people subject to the government's laws to obey in general.
That general obedience should never be mistaken as full voluntary consent because the counterparty to each individual is an organization "negotiating" in bad faith.
Jonathan is correct. There is a substantial difference between violence and taxation. That difference is taxation is applied violence
. Though the violence is frequently threatened rather than carried out, it corrupts the exchange, coercing peaceful people to obey or eventually face an armed crew sent by bureaucrats claiming a representative mandate from the general population.
However, he's wrong on the substance.
One element not present in this analysis is from whom police receive their orders and by what right those orders are issued. This element is where Jonathan and I left off. This is a big subject by itself because it unavoidably involves ethics. Because it's late and I have a long Saturday ahead of me, I'll continue this tomorrow.