On the one hand, there is the ethical problem: budgets are continually running deficits and there is a trillion dollar debt now. You wouldn't give your kids money if they were being so irresponsible.

More to the point, if taxes go to buy bullets and kill people without a trial, are Americans being "responsible citizens" or performing illegal acts (like "aiding and abetting murder") in paying taxes?

There's also the issue of people's fear of the law. But that's a topic for another time...

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    This same dumb argument pops up on this Stack every few months. To save time for all of us, we could really just run a script that plays out: wacky interpretation of taxes and government, sincere attempts to explain the issue from various points of view (legal, philosophical, and otherwise), wackier replies to said explanations, finally the Stack system has mercy on us as the downvotes pile up and remove the question. Normalcy is restored until the next LaRoucher or similar ‘net denizen thinks they’ve got “the” way to convince everyone to stop paying faces. Haha. – A.fm. Apr 24 '18 at 15:09
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    Btw, the next step in the script / algorithm is to attack my character by asserting I’m either a useful idiot, an uninformed citizen, or part of the regime. Then I roll my eyes. The question is hopefully removed by Stack by that point! – A.fm. Apr 24 '18 at 15:11
  • @A.fm.: Your profile says "always educating self". Hmm. – Mark Rosenblitt-Janssen Apr 24 '18 at 20:04
  • 👍................ – A.fm. Apr 24 '18 at 20:05
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    The moral and legally-diligent thing to do is to get charged with tax evasion and argue your case in Court. Either you'll get educated or the government. – Mark Rosenblitt-Janssen Jul 26 '18 at 18:09

Don't even think of going there. If you refuse to pay taxes with this argument, the IRS will take this as a "frivolous tax return", and give you a fine of up to $5,000. If you are trying to argue that this is illegal, you only make things worse.

The IRS gets about 20,000 to 30,000 frivolous tax returns every year, so every argument you could come up with they have heard a dozen times.

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  • It's not frivolous. Citizens in a democracy have a MORAL DUTY to question their leaders and what their money is doing. If no attorney has the balls/tits to take on the government, then he/she isn't worthy of the Law of the United States. – Mark Rosenblitt-Janssen Apr 23 '18 at 21:18
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    As a legal argument, it is frivolous; as a philosophical argument, it is not. – bdb484 Apr 23 '18 at 21:37
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    Not that it changes the analysis, but the Bill of Rights does not guarantee a "fair trial." – bdb484 Apr 23 '18 at 21:43
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    @MarkRosenblitt-Janssen " Citizens in a democracy have a MORAL DUTY to question their leaders and what their money is doing." Your options are to run for a government position that can make such changes or lobby to your representatives who can. That may not be very effective from your perspective, but not respecting the rule of law has been shown to not be very effective in changing such policies either. – JAB Apr 23 '18 at 21:48
  • Why has it been shown to not be "very effective" to uphold the SPIRIT of the LAW? Isn't that what the Founders of America fought and died for? – Mark Rosenblitt-Janssen Apr 23 '18 at 21:52

This is less of a legal question and more of a moral one. I'll just say that, in the Bible, when asked a somewhat similar question, Jesus said, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." This did not mean Jesus condoned everything the Roman government was doing. Quite the opposite. But it does illustrate an important point:

Governments are not single human beings; they are run by many, many different people, who will not always govern the same way. Some of those individuals are better than others. Some are worse than others. By the time a given tax dollar (or denarius) is filtered all the way down to a corrupt official's pockets, and by the time it is used to the end of corruption, the responsibility lies with the corrupt official(s), not with the taxpayer.

There are a lot of good things that come from governments, as well as evil. Generally speaking, the evil that is performed by a government is not a central tenet of the purpose of that government's existence, and it is simply one or more individuals mishandling things on their own. Granted, certain issues will be systemically rampant within a given government, but are they still blemishes on the design, not part of the design itself. (There are exceptions, but the US government is not on that level.) And much of a given tax dollar will also fund the good that a government is doing. In the end, when somebody uses a government's treasury in an act of corruption, that is (generally) their responsibility, not the taxpayer's.

Once again, yours is less of a legal question and more of a moral one.

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  • The problem with the Caesar analogy is that America is a government of the People. This is the People's money -- not some dictator who will cut your head off if you don't pay. So, it remains a DISTINCT legal issue. – Mark Rosenblitt-Janssen Apr 23 '18 at 21:15
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    @MarkRosenblitt-Janssen - it's the people's money, and the people have elected a government to spend it for them, so ... – brhans Apr 23 '18 at 21:44
  • @brhans: ...so if they kill your mother, then.... – Mark Rosenblitt-Janssen Apr 23 '18 at 21:51
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    @MarkRosenblitt-Janssen - I guess I'm missing your point there. Who is 'they' and why would 'they' be killing my mother, and how is that related to paying taxes? – brhans Apr 23 '18 at 21:53
  • @brhans: Well, gee, they is YOUR elected government and MAYBE they killed your mother accidentally, because no American citizen was willing to be vigilant over their own government IN A GOVERNMENT BY THE PEOPLE. – Mark Rosenblitt-Janssen Apr 23 '18 at 21:57

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