Some bits and pieces from here and there:
- Anne Grace’s study of the Beit Sahour tax resistance campaign from the Journal of Palestine Studies is now available on-line.
- This sort of news is always an embarrassment for the IRS and contributes to taxpayer cynicism and noncompliance: the agency paid out more than a million dollars in employee bonuses to IRS employees who were themselves not tax-compliant.
- The New York Times published an interesting piece on “Raising a Moral Child” that spotlights some of the current thinking on how children learn to become ethically engaged. The summary is that it is important to praise and guide children with an eye to making them value their own characters and to understand how their behaviors form their characters. Another data point that suggests the practical value of an Aristotle-style “virtue ethics” approach.
- Berry Friesen compared token war tax resistance to the sorts of taboos that set early Christians apart from their contemporaries.
- In an interview found on YouTube, Chris Coverdale explains why war tax resistance may be legally compulsory in a post-Nuremberg Trials world.
- Those of us committed to fomenting tax resistance would be wise to keep our eyes on the research of those committed to encouraging tax compliance, as their conclusions often have mirror-images that will be useful to us.
The latest in this series is a paper by Richard Lavoie entitled Vox Clamantis in Deserto: The Role of the Individual in Forging a Strong Duty to the Tax System.
Societies exhibiting high tax morale typically maintain stable levels of high tax compliance over time (establishing a societal “taxpaying ethos”) as these underlying foundational attitudes become enshrined as self-maintaining social norms. However, if the underlying social norms begin to erode over time, a society historically exhibiting a strong taxpaying ethos can quickly flip into a non-compliant one once a tipping point is reached.
With the exception of some aberrational sub-groups, the United States typifies a society with a strong taxpaying ethos. However, in recent decades the social norms forming the foundation of this ethos appear to have weakened. Scandals at the Service have weakened its public image. The rise of the tea party movement has questioned the efficacy and role of government, as well as promoting the highly questionable proposition that Americans are currently “overtaxed.” Politicians, who should defend the government that they were elected to run, often act to undermine its legitimacy and advocate for steep spending cuts in addition to tax reductions.
These forces, among others, threaten the very foundations of our tax system by undermining our historical societal faith in the fairness of our tax system and the obligation to fund necessary government services.
- The Tax Foundation has drawn up a map that purports to show how cigarette smuggling in the United States is correlated to the tobacco tax rates in those states. So, for instance: “New York is the highest net importer of smuggled cigarettes, totaling 56.9 percent of the total cigarette market in the state. New York also has the highest state cigarette tax ($4.35 per pack), not counting the local New York City cigarette tax (an additional $1.50 per pack). Smuggling in New York has risen sharply since 2006 (+59 percent), as has the tax rate (+190 percent).”
- The Hartford Courant recently published a look back at Julia & Abby Smith, the tax-resisting women’s rights activists of Glastonbury, and the Worcester Historical Museum and the American Antiquarian Society recently announced that they had digitized and made available on-line The Abbey Kelley Foster Papers, allowing us a deeper look into the life of another nineteenth century American tax resister for women’s rights.
- Wendy McElroy speculates that the IRS may be contemplating revoking passports from people behind on their taxes.
- The phone security consultants “pindrop” have done some back-of-the-envelope calculations on the massive ongoing criminal operation in which American immigrants are shaken down over the phone by people masquerading as IRS agents. They estimate that 450,000 people were targeted by this scam in alone. Pindrop also posted their analysis of how the scam works, and even some excerpts from a recording of one of the calls.