Thursday, 22 October 2009

it's a very personal crime

there are only two certainties in life - death & taxes. i'm sure you've all heard that one. and the combination of the two gives a nice negativity to tax - such an unfair burden on us all, no?

well, i don't mind paying taxes. of course i don't want to be paying more than i have to, but the concept itself doesn't bother me. taxes are a means to a fair and just society, a means to the provision of social services and to many other benefits that improve my life directly or indirectly.

it appears that there are many people who don't think that way. my evidence for that assertion is gathered from the work i do. i'm a chartered accoutant after all, tax is what i deal with throughout my working day. so i get a pretty good idea of how people think about paying their taxes. and i can't say i always like it, but i don't mind their attitude as long as they pay up.

what really annoys me is the people who try to cheat on their taxes. and there are plenty of them out there. the ones who don't put all their cash from sales into the business bank account. who pocket the money, without paying the GST component back to the government, and without paying income tax on that income. and who feel absolutely no guilt in doing so.

of course such people know better than to disclose such behaviour to their accountant. but we do all know it happens. what amazes me though, is how they feel as if they are doing no wrong. the government is a huge and impersonal institution which collects billions of dollars. it doesn't seem so bad if you don't put in as much as you're supposed. and you can convince yourself that those fools just waste your money anyway, so they don't deserve.

the depersonalisation of the governmental institution makes it easier to feel no sense of wrong-doing. i come across people who will, in every other aspect of their life, claim to have the highest morals, and who will happily look down their noses at others for behaviour or actions that don't measure up to their own standards. the hypocrisy is quite breathtaking.

it makes me really angry, and for one simple reason. these people are stealing directly from me. every cent they don't pay is a cent that someone else has to pay. those of us on the PAYE system can't hide our income - it's taxed before we get it. and our tax rate is higher than it should be, because some people aren't paying their fare share.

it's not an impersonal crime, it's a direct crime against individuals. when people fail to pay their taxes in full, they are cheating their own family members and friends. it's an immoral act, the same as sneaking into someone else's house and taking their stuff.

i guess there are more than two certainties in life. there will always be people who cheat on their taxes, well that's another one.

1 comment:

Dave Moskovitz said...

Thanks for bringing this up, Anjum. I agree with you completely.

We live in New Zealand, a country where we can feel proud to pay taxes. Sure, the government doesn't get it right all the time, but for the most part our taxes are going toward good stuff. If we don't take responsibility for our own destiny by putting our money where our mouths are, then we'll turn into a kleptocracy.