Recent Links of Interest to Tax Resisters

Today I’ll share some links about tax policy and tax resistance in the United States that have caught my attention recently.

First, though: I’ve started a Wikipedia page on Tax resistance in the United States that covers how theories about tax resistance have shaped (and been shaped in) the U.S., and how tax resistance in practice has played out in the country. Wikipedia is an open, collaborative project that anyone can help to edit, so I encourage you to learn what it’s all about and how to help make it better.

Now on to the links:

Tax Evasion

  • The New York Times got its hands on a trove of financial documents concerning the real estate empire of Fred C. Trump, Donald Trump’s father, and published a well-done exposé on what they found. From the point of view of today’s political squabbles and tomorrow’s history lessons, the takeaway is that Donald Trump’s brand in which he is a self-made business prodigy is a laughable con job. From our vantage, however, what’s interesting is the extent to which the Trump family used legal, effectively-legal, and illegal methods to evade taxes. They paid a fraction of what they owed, again and again. This may help bolster the widespread feeling that rich people commonly get away with tax evasion, sticking it to the little guy. This in turn erodes “tax morale” which causes voluntary tax compliance to fall.
  • Another bit of journalism hammering on this theme (though more free-wheeling and not as methodically precise) comes from GQ: “How Puerto Rico Became the Newest Tax Haven for the Super Rich”. Apparently if you can convince the IRS that you’ve become a permanent resident of the U.S. Territory of Puerto Rico, you’ll find yourself in “the only place on U.S. soil where personal income from capital gains, interest, and dividends are untaxed.”

General Government Failure

IRS Follies

Miscellaneous

  • Republicans are prone to complain about the percentage of U.S. households who are so poor they don’t have to pay income tax (remember Mitt Romney’s revealing “47%” comments way back when? Or the Wall Street Journal’s “lucky duckies” editorials?). But that didn’t stop them from crafting their major tax legislation (the recent “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act”) in such a way that it will increase the percentage of American households who pay no federal income tax. The Tax Policy Center estimates that fully 44% of American households will pay no federal income taxes at all (2% more than ). About 25% will pay no payroll tax either, or their payroll tax will be offset by a refundable income tax credit.
  • “Millennials” (says the New York Times) are joining together to swap techniques for quitting the rat race and retiring early, in something called “the FIRE movement.” They begin to live more frugally, squirrel things away, take greater care of their investment decisions, and eye an early modest retirement or semi-retirement. Most of the examples in the article are of pretty well-off people who really just needed to stop living at or above the lifestyle they could afford. But it’s people like them who pay the taxes, and by stepping off the treadmill, they stop doing so or at least stop doing so much. So if you know anyone in that category, send them a link.
  • About ten years ago the number of Americans renouncing their U.S. citizenship began to shoot up, from what had been a normal range of two to eight hundred people a year to a high of 5,409 people in . But things seem to have leveled off since then. Why? Your guess is as good as mine, maybe better.