Monday, October 22, 2007

Are Tax Preparers Evil Blood-Sucking Parasites?

Recently, I decided to take an income tax preparation class, with the goal that if I make it through, I may land a part-time gig with a tax preparation service in the spring doing returns for people. As thoroughly anti-tax as I am – indeed, all taxation is theft, and the income tax is the most immoral form of taxation there is – I have been challenged by some acquaintances to explain this seemingly blatant contradiction in my moral standard. By seeking to be employed as a tax preparer, am I not then seeking to benefit from the system that I so despise? Am I not earning "blood money"?

I admit, it is a very good question, and worthy of a response. In short, my answer is…well, yes, and no. Let me explain.

I agree - a job called "income tax preparer" should never exist. The income tax is a profoundly immoral form of revenue generation for the State. People who get up in the morning and go to work, applying their mental and physical skills to produce things they need to survive – food, shelter, clothing, healthcare – must first pay-off the politicians in order to get the privelege of earning the wealth needed to acquire life necessities. It is the politician who asserts the primary claim over the fruits of a person’s labor….not the person themselves. Workers only get whatever crumbs are leftover after the politician has "withheld" his toll. How insulting.

As bad as this system is, with the State plundering the wages and salaries of hard-working, peaceful people, I think that studying the system in order to help people process their paperwork is, while regrettable, not entirely dishonorable. The tax preparer exists to help people who otherwise cannot make sense out of what the theiving politicians are extorting. A tax-preparer is helping a person to minimize his theft and, at the very least, keep them out of jail.

As an analogy, consider the case of defense lawyers. The fact is, there are many stupid laws on the books. And while we can agree that they are stupid, shouldn’t be enforced, and should be repealed, the fact is, they are on the books, and all too often enforced. So do we say that a person taking up a profession as a defense lawyer is dishonorable? I don’t think so, because we must compare it to the alternative: one where the State’s victims are totally defenseless to its predations. So, while a tax preparer does make money off of an immoral system and, it can be argued, has a interest in seeing the system perpetuated, his role is fundamentally that of ally to the taxpayer, created as a reaction to the implementation of a revolting tax regime. He helps the taxpayer to defend himself against the State.

Now, in my view, what is absolutely unjustifiable, would be to take a job working for the IRS as a tax collector. In a role like that, a person’s sole function is to be the violator of a basic, natural human right. Every individual has the unconditional right to continue his existence. In a developed economy, this is done through the division of labor, specialization, and trade. A person who works for the IRS is a violator of this. The IRS agent tells a person, "before you may acquire the resources you need to feed yourself and your family, you must let me take out my portion. If you do not, we will throw you in jail, and you will not be allowed to earn." The tax-evader is, in essence, an economic criminal – a classification that was very prominent in Communist Russia.

So there you have it. While the existence of a profession called "tax preparer" is regrettable, it is not fundamentally evil. The State, through all its actions, distorts the natural economy in a myriad of ways, big and small, that it is virtually impossible to find some way that any activity isn’t impacted to some degree or another. At the very least, the money I earn will better enable me to prosper and donate time and resources to causes that seek to repeal the income tax, and create a freer, more just, more moral world.

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