Tuesday, April 03, 2012

How To Encourage a Nation of Tax Cheats

I was going to post on this because it is my beat, but my friends at Say Anything have jumped in while I drop the ball. This is one of the grossest revenue grabs that government has come up with in awhile. Gift cards, while a less than wonderful store of value, are still a mechanism to store value rather than hold cash. The arrogance and presumptuousness on display here to claim citizens' assets (and they are no less assets than your house, stocks, bonds, or other valuables) is astonishing if not surprising. This is like the government saying if you don't live in your house for 6 months, they can take it away from you because houses are for living in. This sort of usurpation signifies an "end game" taxation impulse - government officials no longer think in terms of what revenue ought to be raised, but what is there for the taking - if it is takeable, then it is theirs. This is how you arrive at Greek or Argentine levels of tax cheating - when citizens have to cheat to feed, cloth, and house themselves, they will cheat. Once they cheat, they'll cheat not just on food, shelter, and clothing, but everything else.


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