was a slow day at the VITA center. I helped three households do their tax returns and retrieve $1,832 from the U.S. Treasury.
One of these days I should write in more detail about how I feel about working with the IRS to help people file their tax returns. As you might expect, I have conflicting feelings about it. On the one hand, just about everybody I work with is getting a refund, and the sum of my work helps take money from the U.S. Treasury, with the money going back to families who have had it taken from them all year in the form of FICA and federal income tax withholding.
On the other hand, it requires me to collaborate in the tax filing system in an uncomfortable way. And to some extent I participate in the IRS’s attempt to recast itself from a bullying olympian of larceny into some sort of social welfare agency — “look at us giving money to the poor!”
And as much as I may promote tax resistance and tax evasion here on The Picket Line, when I put on the hat of a VITA volunteer, I play by-the-books. If someone wants to resist or evade taxes, that’s their decision, not one I’m going to try to make for them.
For example, one of my clients a couple of years ago — a rare example of a client who ended up owing additional taxes at the end of the year — told me that he was in the process of applying for political asylum in the U.S. If I had played fast-and-loose with his return to try to get him a refund, it might have made me feel clever, but it might have later caused him problems with his asylum application. It’s not my place to make other people take risks for stands I want to take.