Paying Taxes IS Patriotic

Back in 2008, Joe Biden received a lot of criticism for saying that it is patriotic for wealthy Americans to pay more in taxes. While some may disagree, I actually think he should have gone further and said that paying taxes is one of our most patriotic duties as Americans. Let’s face it, most of us will not join the military, work at a government job, become a member of Congress, etc. Instead, we may fly the United States flag, say we support our troops, and try to help our fellow Americans through charities or just random acts of kindness (I would like to see more of this), etc. When it comes down to it, besides voting in elections or being part of jury duty, paying taxes becomes one of the most patriotic things we do to help our country.

From 2010 to 2011, the number of Americans who tell the IRS it’s OK to cheat “as much as possible” on your taxes doubled and the U.S. Treasury says that $250 billion or more in tax revenue is lost each year due to unreported income. Far too many people, who consider themselves patriotic, try to cheat our country out of tax revenue. They tend to use the argument that our country spends too much money on things that they don’t want or need. However, we, the people, vote in our government representatives that make the laws and set the policies such as tax rates and tax brackets. If we don’t agree with the laws that they enact then we should protest or vote out those representatives that passed the laws. Taxes support our government and military. I find it difficult for some to say that they support our troops while they cheat on their taxes which fund those very troops.

Republicans argue that Obama is employing class warfare and trying to pit the poor and middle class against the rich. However, look at some of the recent examples of what some of the rich do when they are about to be hit with a big tax bill:

1. A great example is that of Denise Rich, a wealthy America-born socialite and former wife of billionaire trader Marc Rich. Denise recently renounced her American passport, which will likely save her tens of millions of dollars or more in U.S. taxes over the long haul, tax lawyers say.

2. In a higher profile case, Facebook co-founder, Eduardo Saverin, renounced his citizenship shortly before Facebook conducted its IPO. According to Forbes, the move is reported to have saved Saverin millions in taxes on his Facebook stake. He claims this was a practical matter as he is planning to live in Singapore, but how can you ignore the timing of this move?

As CNN states,

The practice of renouncing U.S. citizenship, though still extremely rare, is becoming more common: 1,781 Americans did it in 2011. That’s up 16% from 2010 and is nearly eight times the number who expatriated in 2008, according to the U.S. Treasury.

This doesn’t sound very patriotic to me.

These two people, from what I can tell, lived in the United States, made most of their wealth in the United States, and made their wealth from mostly United States citizens (basically lived the American dream). Then, right before the tax bill came, they slipped out of the restaurant to avoid the bill. Sure, you can say I’m making an assumption, but the facts speak loudly. This thought that income is all that matters and a social responsibility to your country shouldn’t come into the picture disturbs me.

I find it frustrating that individuals are doing things like renouncing their United States citizenship or setting up offshore bank accounts so they don’t have to pay United States taxes. These same individuals are perfectly fine with the idea of living here and taking part in the American dream, but once they achieve it, they like to protect their money every way they can. This is not what the American dream was meant to represent. This is capitalism run amuck. Some of the wealthy take capitalism to the extreme that it is all about making as much money, whatever it takes, and keeping as much money, also whatever it takes, that they lose their morals, ethics, patriotism, and decency in the process.

According to an article from The Fiscal Times, the super wealthy and their families have between $21 and $32 trillion in hidden financial assets in offshore accounts, representing up to $576 billion in lost income tax revenues for our country. Our current Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, reportedly has more than $30 million in the Cayman Islands alone! Why won’t Mitt Romney release more of his tax returns to the general public? What is he afraid that we will see? The figures show that the top 1% hold 36% of our nation’s wealth. How much further will we let this go? Some of the wealthiest people in this country are the ones complaining the loudest that they pay too much in taxes, even as they use tactics unavailable to the poor or middle class to avoid taxes allowing some of them to pay a smaller tax percentage than middle class individuals.

Let me tell you a personal story. In 2001, my wife and I moved from Iowa to South Carolina and decided to buy a home. Getting a mortgage when you own a small business is a little more complicated because you have more expenses, income sources, etc. So, we got help getting our mortgage from a mortgage broker. We gave them all our financial documentation including tax returns, balance sheet, etc. After our financial consultant reviewed it, she met with us and said, You have the most honest tax returns I have ever seen. This should be a statement that makes you proud that you are not trying to hide things from your country and are performing your patriotic duty by paying your fair share. Instead, you feel like a sucker because you aren’t getting the same advantages as many others.

This isn’t about class warfare with the poor and middle class against those that are rich and successful. It’s about the rich employing tactics against our own country and basically looting this country of all that it is worth. It is wrong and it needs to stop!