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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tax shelters and the Fugitive Slave Act: Layton to announce plan for tax avoiders

NDP Leader Jack Layton will hold a press conference today outlining the New Democrats' plan to address tax havens.

In a media advisory from the NDP caucus, the party said “Every year, billions of dollars are shielded from taxes through the use of tax havens – unfairly increasing the tax burden for other Canadians.”

But do wealthy Canadians engaged in aggressive tax planning really burden the rest of us with high taxes, as the NDP is arguing? The answer, of course, is “no”. This burden comes from government, and those who attempt to escape this burden are simply trying to live free.

Consider this analogy:

It’s 1793 in America and the Congress has passed the Fugitive Slave Act. An African American slave – lets call him Mr. X – escapes a plantation for the Midwest, an early abolitionist strong hold. In his drive for freedom, he is forced to leave behind his family and friends. While many of the slaves left behind are happy for Mr. X, some are envious, and frustrated that they have been forced to toil harder in his absence. The slave master senses this envy and frustration and pronounces that run-away slaves like Mr. X are “unfairly increasing the burden for other slaves” and that the Fugitive Slave Act will help put an end to this unfairness. With this knowledge, the slaves go happily back to work.

So don’t be bamboozled by the slave master into blaming the run-away slave for your heavy burden. It’s not overtaxed Canadians in search of tax havens who are to blame for the unfair tax burden, it’s the government – and politicians like Layton who make unreasonable claims on our labour and property. But while I am a tax abolitionist in theory, as all serious libertarians are, I nevertheless pay my taxes and avoid tax shelters – and encourage others to do the same – not out of duty to my neighbour, but out of fear of my government. There is no surer path to financial ruin than a showdown with a tax authority.

I'm sure it is exactly this kind of personal cowardice on my part that the Father of the American Revolution, Samuel Adams, had in mind when he proclaimed these words in the Philadelphia State House on August 1, 1776:

If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.


Posted by Matthew Johnston on November 23, 2010 | Permalink


Just wonder if Layton realises that he is endorsing the American approach. He is your typical anti-American unless it pertains to stealing other people's money.

Posted by: Alain | 2010-11-23 6:01:48 PM

A good post, except for the silliness about tax abolition.

Posted by: Cytotoxic | 2010-11-23 6:17:45 PM

Typical N D P , instead of thinking maybe people have to much of a tax burden, they want to wage war on Canadians .

Posted by: don b | 2010-11-24 11:44:22 AM

Fairly typical of the statist mindset: all citizens are free, therefore, all citizens are criminals. Layton will go a long way to making more laws to ensure that no one dare move without some kind of rubber stamp of approval from some clerk in some bureaucracy. And Layton, with his head all puffed up with hot air, believes himself to be the great defender of all that is decent. Well, all that statists consider decent. I suppose, after he has ascended to power, Layton will declare himself a living god, like Alexander before him. And that tax burden is really the tribute paid to the living god, the Great Layton.

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Posted by: Cairns Backpackers | 2011-02-21 2:15:00 AM

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