People Grumble on Tax Day, but So Rarely Take Action

Here are some words of wisdom from Anthony Gregory, who wonders whether anything will come of the annual Tax Day grumbling, when “the libertarian side of each wage earner emerges anomalously like the Groundhog on its day”:

It is notable how little concern there is for the oppressed taxpayer coming from the progressives, the liberals, and the left. Although they might complain about poor priorities and busted budgets, few of them attack the institution of income taxation for what it is: violent exploitation of the worker by the most monopolistic, immense and predatory corporation to be found: the national government.

The organized conservatives, for their part, complain about taxes and yet favor the most extravagant and vulgar spending projects. They are smart enough about economics to understand the contradiction. They are not really anti-tax. It was the Republicans who gave America the Income Tax, under Lincoln and then more permanently through Taft. The GOP has always been for the big tariff, too. When push comes to shove, the right has always found ways to make others pay for its wars and police brutality. Despite the pervasive misconceptions, Republicans characteristically jump at the chance to raise taxes and inaugurate new ones, and when they do cut them, the cuts are nearly always an illusion.… income tax is the price we pay so the Bush administration can continue to wreck civilization. Here and abroad.

Sheldon Richman seconds that motion:

Taxes are not the price of civilization, as Oliver Wendell Holmes once propagandized. They are not club dues. They are not voluntary payment for services. They are not payments to ourselves. Pure and simple, they are exactions under threat of punishment, including incarceration. They are the chief way that the exploiters exploit the exploited. They are the device that distinguishes the predators from the productive. They are what divide the world into tax-payers and tax-consumers.

“How is a mugger different from the Internal Revenue Service?” asks Jacob Sullum. “Both take your money, but the mugger doesn’t make you fill out forms.”

And that’s just a ha-ha until you add up all of the hours people spend filling out those forms — six billion hours last year — which corresponds to an extra cost of over $265 billion (over and above the cost of paying the taxes in the first place).

That amounts to 22 cents for every dollar collected… And the compliance burden does not include the costs associated with litigating tax disputes, operating the IRS and the U.S. Tax Court, or tax planning aimed at minimizing liability.

How’d we get in this mess? It’s a long story, and depending on how far back you want to go, you might enjoy The Rocky Road of American Taxation by Charles Adams, which walks us through the various taxes that irked the American colonials, up through the Boston Tea Party and then on to the taxes revolts that came after America had cut off the King — Shay’s Rebellion and Fries Rebellion.

David B. Berrian ain’t buying it:

I can’t do this any more. I will no longer pay for war — the murder of civilians — with my tax dollars.

For more than , I have paid federal taxes accurately and regularly. I’ve often supported new taxes when the proceeds would help people. Now I have to stop. Attached is my tax return that shows I have taxes due. I won’t be paying them voluntarily.…

The costs of war (past, present, future) now take nearly 50 percent of every federal tax dollar. U.S. expenditures on the military are now more than the military spending of all other countries in the world combined.

War is no longer a battle of armies. Today it is the policy of our country to fight an endless war against terrorism — against virtually anyone, anywhere that political leaders find it expedient to call an enemy.

To be true to my conscience, I have to stop my collaboration with war. I realize that not all of my taxes go for war; there are many government services I support. If I could pay only for those, I would gladly do it. But I know that for every dollar I pay you, you’ll take half to perpetuate war. So I need to stop altogether. Every year I will calculate my taxes, and I’ll make sure to provide at least that amount to community groups that provide human services and that promote peace and non-violence.