is living off tax money right living?

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davidbrainerd
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is living off tax money right living?

Post by davidbrainerd »

The reason I ask is although the government may give you tax money, they extorted it form someone else unwillingly, so can it truly be viewed as given?
Reductor
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Re: is living off tax money right living?

Post by Reductor »

If you believe that government is inherently immoral, then the case could be made that living off tax money is wrong livelihood. Since I don't think government is inherently immoral, I do not think living off tax money is inherently wrong livelihood. If, however, the government did collect taxes while also failing to provide a proportional level service to the populace it is taxing, then to live off the taxes collected by that government would be wrong livelihood. That is, I would extend my definition of wrong livelihood to encompass this form of livelihood.

EDIT:
More to the point, if someone obtains money from the government through dishonesty, then yes, that is certainly wrong livelihood.
ieee23
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Re: is living off tax money right living?

Post by ieee23 »

Vanijja Sutta: Business (Wrong Livelihood)

AN 5.177 PTS: A iii 208


"Monks, a lay follower should not engage in five types of business. Which five?

Business in weapons
Business in human beings
Business in meat
Business in intoxicants
Business in poison

"These are the five types of business that a lay follower should not engage in."

Nothing in the description of Wrong Livliehood about collecting social assistance if you unable to work.

Right Effort is the effort to get out and stay out of unwholesome mental states:

Greed/desire
Hatred/ill will
Delusion/ignorance.

Right Effort is the effort to get into and stay in wholesome mental states

Generosity
Good Will/Love
Wisdom
Whatever a bhikkhu frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. - MN 19
Phena
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Re: is living off tax money right living?

Post by Phena »

davidbrainerd wrote:The reason I ask is although the government may give you tax money, they extorted it form someone else unwillingly, so can it truly be viewed as given?
Since when has paying tax been considered extortion? I would be interested in how you've come to this conclusion. Not only is it not extortion, but it is a responsibility to pay tax in a civilised society for essential services.To avoid paying tax and and thereby not contribute to society is just another manifestation of greed.

How our tax dollars are spent and what on is another question altogether though, which does raise some moral issues.
ieee23
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Re: is living off tax money right living?

Post by ieee23 »

Phena wrote:
davidbrainerd wrote:The reason I ask is although the government may give you tax money, they extorted it form someone else unwillingly, so can it truly be viewed as given?
Since when has paying tax been considered extortion? I would be interested in how you've come to this conclusion. Not only is it not extortion, but it is a responsibility to pay tax in a civilised society for essential services.To avoid paying tax and and thereby not contribute to society is just another manifestation of greed.
:thumbsup:
Whatever a bhikkhu frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. - MN 19
davidbrainerd
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Re: is living off tax money right living?

Post by davidbrainerd »

Phena wrote: Since when has paying tax been considered extortion?
The Boston tea party guys thought it was, and thus came the phrase "no taxation without representation."
Phena wrote:I am would be interested how you've come to this conclusion. Not only is it not extortion, but it is a responsibility to pay tax in a civilised society for essential services.
Some people think they have no real representation, the game is rigged, both parties are the same, both parties are against the people, my tax money is being extorted from me, being wasted not used on "essential services".

Now if the government gives me money that comes from these guys, they resent it. From their perspective, I have stolen from them or received stolen money from the thief. So the question then I guess is, does their perception matter or not?
Phena wrote:To avoid paying tax and and thereby not contribute to society is just another manifestation of greed.
I wasn't suggesting that I was going to avoid paying taxes. But think through your statement.

Some local governments are essentially trying to make it illegal to grow your own vegetable garden in your yard. Why do they care? Because you don't pay sales taxes that you would pay if you bought the same vegetables from the store. Is it greed to grow your own carrots? I trow not.

What about the notion that if some friend gives you housing free you're supposed to pay taxes on that? This is the IRS opinion, that housing for free is income because had you not received it you would have paid rent, therefore the lessening of your spending by the free housing from your friend is now taxable "income." If they began to apply this to monks, saying the housing provided by the monastery is income and the monks must pay tax on it, would it be greed for the monks to object?

In any case: I'm not accusing anyone of anything. This is a hypothetical question.
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mikenz66
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Re: is living off tax money right living?

Post by mikenz66 »

Hi David,

I presume from your posts that you're in the USA? Be aware that many of your examples have no relevance to many of us on this forum, since we have very different tax/welfare systems.

:anjali:
Mike
davidbrainerd
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Re: is living off tax money right living?

Post by davidbrainerd »

mikenz66 wrote:Hi David,

I presume from your posts that you're in the USA? Be aware that many of your examples have no relevance to many of us on this forum, since we have very different tax/welfare systems.

:anjali:
Mike
Yes that makes sense. But I think the question is still pretty generic. I can't imagine any place where there exists 0 people who feel taxation is extortion. Maybe they don't talk about it as publicly, perhaps because there is no political freedom of speech, but I can't imagine any utopia where people are lining up to happily give the government as much as it wants to pay for those "essential services"...not even San Francisco.
ieee23
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Re: is living off tax money right living?

Post by ieee23 »

davidbrainerd wrote: Some people think they have no real representation, the game is rigged, both parties are the same, both parties are against the people, my tax money is being extorted from me, being wasted not used on "essential services".
Thinking it doesn't make it so.

A lot of Americans are fed anger producing propaganda to serve the needs of other people. Since that anger and the propaganda that produces it provides a distraction from their lives many Americans welcome it and fester o it it rather than using their mental energy to cultivate Buddhist states of mind like generosity, good will, equanimity, sympathetic joy. I think it is better to turn mental energies toward wholesome mental states or concrete acts to help myself or the country.

There are always going to be taxes. There are always going to be uses of taxes that the people who pay will not be 100% in agreement with. There will always be people who will need help.
Whatever a bhikkhu frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. - MN 19
davidbrainerd
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Re: is living off tax money right living?

Post by davidbrainerd »

Reductor wrote:If you believe that government is inherently immoral, then the case could be made that living off tax money is wrong livelihood. Since I don't think government is inherently immoral, I do not think living off tax money is inherently wrong livelihood. If, however, the government did collect taxes while also failing to provide a proportional level service to the populace it is taxing, then to live off the taxes collected by that government would be wrong livelihood. That is, I would extend my definition of wrong livelihood to encompass this form of livelihood.

EDIT:
More to the point, if someone obtains money from the government through dishonesty, then yes, that is certainly wrong livelihood.
I think this answers the question very well.
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mikenz66
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Re: is living off tax money right living?

Post by mikenz66 »

davidbrainerd wrote: Yes that makes sense. But I think the question is still pretty generic. I can't imagine any place where there exists 0 people who feel taxation is extortion. Maybe they don't talk about it as publicly, perhaps because there is no political freedom of speech, but I can't imagine any utopia where people are lining up to happily give the government as much as it wants to pay for those "essential services"...not even San Francisco.
It's not a matter of lack of free speech, it's a matter of attitude, I think. I don't think anyone is "happy" to pay taxes, but I see a general acceptance in most Western countries that there is a variety of infrastructure and social support that is best provided by central coordination. I certainly don't object to paying taxes to ensure my country is well run and peaceful.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Pe ... x_rankings

However, that sort of discussion belongs in Politics, not Sila. To go back to your Sila question, are you asking as someone concerned that you should not be accepting social support, or are you writing as someone who objects to supporting others?

:anjali:
Mike
davidbrainerd
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Re: is living off tax money right living?

Post by davidbrainerd »

mikenz66 wrote: To go back to your Sila question, are you asking as someone concerned that you should not be accepting social support, or are you writing as someone who objects to supporting others?
Just a general knowledge question. Not pushing an agenda.
alan
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Re: is living off tax money right living?

Post by alan »

You nailed it Mike.
Phena
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Re: is living off tax money right living?

Post by Phena »

davidbrainerd wrote:The Boston tea party guys thought it was, and thus came the phrase "no taxation without representation."
So are the British still taxing you? This has no relevance.
davidbrainerd wrote:Some people think they have no real representation, the game is rigged, both parties are the same, both parties are against the people, my tax money is being extorted from me, being wasted not used on "essential services".
Vote for someone else then. But there will always be and should be taxation. Do you believe there should be no taxation?
davidbrainerd wrote:Now if the government gives me money that comes from these guys, they resent it. From their perspective, I have stolen from them or received stolen money from the thief. So the question then I guess is, does their perception matter or not?
This is the crux of your problem. You hold a pernicious view that the government is somehow stealing from you through taxation and so do others who consider this a form of theft. Why not hold the attitude that paying tax is a form of dana? Then you won't have to worry about the ignorant perceptions of others. It is not incorrect livelihood if you receive government assistance. You will spend this money and stimulate the economy, not horde it, and thereby contribute to society also. Be generous with what you have.
davidbrainerd wrote:I wasn't suggesting that I was going to avoid paying taxes. But think through your statement.
I wasn't accusing you of avoiding taxes. I was making the point that the avoidance of tax if a form of greed.

The greater crime of governments is not that that apply taxation, but that they allow wealthy individuals and corporations off the hook by not making them pay their fair share of tax and thereby society ends up carrying them. These are the entities that are not abiding by correct livelihood, not you.
alan
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Re: is living off tax money right living?

Post by alan »

Great post Phena!
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