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Last Week's Tea Party

Published on: 12:31PM Apr 23, 2009

As I was driving through Madison last week, I was witness to 8000 protesters.  They seemed like good mild mannered people, several of them even brought their kids.  They weren’t protesting the war, or George Bush, or Barack Obama.  8000 people gathered in Madison to protest taxes, and the way their tax dollars were being spent by the government.

Now if I would have had more free time I would have joined them, mostly to be part of a protest that I actually agree with.  I’ve lived in Madison WI, for over 10 years, and there have been a lot of protests, not too many that I agreed with.  After watching the news that night, there really were 2 sides to the protest, the first is how the government spends or mis-spends our tax dollars, which I completely agree with.  The other side of it is how much we get taxed by the government, I agree with this also. 

The next day I was listening to Dave Ramsey on the radio talking about how we have to take responsibility for things in our own lives, and I thought back to the protestors from the previous day.  What could they really do?  They could try tax evasion, although there are plenty of people who’ve tried that and are now either serving time or are working for the federal government.  The other thing would be to try tax avoidance.  This is really a legal way to avoid paying taxes on your income.  There are plans to do this that many of our employers already offer.  They are 401K, Roth IRA, and Flexible Spending Accounts.  For people that are self employed, these plans are Individual 401K, IRA, AgriPlan, and BizPlan.   All of these plans are legitimate ways to avoid paying taxes whether that be to put away for retirement, or pay for healthcare.  Are you using the tools the government gave you to avoid paying taxes?

I’ll leave you with a story from a judge that I read about 6 months ago.

“I live in Alexandria Va.  Near the Supreme Court chambers is a toll bridge across the Potomac.  When I rush, I pay the dollar toll and get home early.  However, I usually drive outside the downtown section of the city and across the Potomac on a free bridge.

This bridge was placed outside the downtown Washington D.C. area to serve a useful social service – getting drivers to drive the extra mile and help alleviate congestion during the rush hour.

If I went over the toll bridge and through the barrier without paying the toll, I would be committing tax evasion.

If, however, I drive the extra mile and drive outside the city of Washington to the free bridge, I am using a legitimate, logical and suitable method of tax avoidance and I am performing a useful social service by doing so.

For my tax evasion I should be punished.  For my tax avoidance I should be commended. The tragedy of life today is that so few people know that the free bridge exists.

Justice Louis D. Brandeis”
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