Sunday, May 30, 2010

Tax Evasion

You know, of all the things I complain about, one of the most bothersome things to me is people who don’t pay their taxes. If you are not able to pay your taxes (as opposed to just not wanting to), then maybe there’s some excuse for you. However, if that’s the case, then maybe you’re living outside your means… If that’s not the case, and you just don’t like to pay them, then I don’t like you. Sorry, but that’s that. However, beyond the individuals who do this, something worse to me is companies who advertise the practice.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, let me describe one of the commercials these kinds of companies put out. Imagine a person in a pleasant, reasonably wealthy looking home environment. Maybe they’re in their driveway getting out of their Mercedes SUV and in the background, you see their weekend sailboat sitting beside the house. Not too modest, eh? Now imagine they start to talk, and this is what comes out their mouth: “I owed $250,000 to the IRS!” For some reason, they seem to be in a good mood about that. Most people would be quite upset about this, perhaps distraught with worry, and may even be ashamed to talk about it.

Now wait, though. The next utterance explains everything very clearly for us: “Then I called Company X and they settled my IRS debt for me. I only paid $500!” Well, now of course we can see why they’re so excited. They just got out of paying a huge sum of money, and now get to enjoy their sailboat without fear of being indebted to the government. Wouldn’t you just love to be excused from having to pay thousands of dollars as part of your responsibility as a citizen, all the while cheating the rest of us who follow the rules?

So what’s the problem with this? First, for every dollar they don’t pay in taxes, that’s either one dollar more someone else has to pay or that the national deficit increases. Second, whether it is actually the case or not, the company sells their services as if there are no consequences of going through this process. Now, I honestly can’t say that I know how the whole system works, and there may very well be no negative repercussions for the individual enlisting Company X’s help. While that might be the case, I’m inclined to assume that this would involve some sort of bankruptcy filing, which is something I’d rather not have to deal with, personally. Either way, regardless of the potential fallout, these companies encourage people to avoid paying their taxes, with the enticement that they will have the fault cleared for them at a future date.

With all the government spending – for everything that tax money is spent on, whether it benefits you or not – to withhold that money entirely does nothing but damage the system. Whether you support the ideology that government should provide everything to citizens or nothing or anything in between, the fact remains that they’re involved in just about everything. By helping yourself out by avoiding paying your dues, you end up hurting everyone else. Ultimately you hurt yourself as well in the process because you’ll be missing out on the services those taxes will provide. If you do this, shame on you. Double shame on these companies for trying to get you to do it!

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