Paul L. Caron

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Lavoie: Patriotism and Taxation -- The Tax Compliance Implications of the Tea Party Movement

Richard Lavoie (Akron), Patriotism and Taxation: The Tax Compliance Implications of the Tea Party Movement, 45 Loy. L.A. L. Rev. 39 (2011):

Given the rise of the tea party movement, which draws strength from the historical linkage between patriotism and tax protests in the United States, the role of patriotism as a general tax compliance factor is examined in light of the extant empirical evidence. The existing research suggests that patriotism may be a weaker tax compliance factor in the United States than it is elsewhere. In light of this possibility, the tea party movement has the potential to weaken this compliance factor even more. Further, when considered in light of the broader tax morale factors that contribute to tax compliance, the tea party movement also poses a risk of destabilizing the social contract framework that underlies our established taxpaying ethos. In order to strengthen the impact of patriotism on tax compliance and lessen any adverse impact of the tea party movement on the country’s taxpaying ethos, the government should take steps to disentangle American patriotism from its anti-tax roots. Important first steps in this regard are outlined in this Article, including the creation of a voluntary “Patriotic Remittance Tax.” Making such changes will strengthen the bond between taxpayers and the government and help promote a vision of American patriotism that is positively associated with taxation rather than antithetical to it.


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The tea party is the result of frustration with current system in Washington. Taxes are just an excuse.
There are more problems than just taxes.

Posted by: Alex | Jun 3, 2012 3:55:30 PM

Based on that author's own writing we can assume that he is not patriotic at all. Until Mr. Lavoie volunteers 50% of his wealth he cannot even be half loyal. Ergo Mr. Lavoie is advocating the abolition of the U.S. government. May Gaia have mercy upon his aura.

Posted by: Jim | Jun 1, 2012 11:08:26 AM

If ppl felt that the govt treated tax money as the taxpayers treat their own money. And the govt stuck to its constitutionally delineated roll, then maybe ppl would more willingly comply with tax laws.
IOW stop wasting money, redistributing wealth, paying off those with political connections by loaning them money or giving them govt contracts etc...

Posted by: m fox | Jun 1, 2012 8:04:34 AM

If this Libtard or any other Libtard wants to send the government more money, the Treasury has an address for that.

Of course, if Libtards thought that paying taxes was patriotic, they wouldn't tolerate a Treasury Secretary who didn't pay his.

Posted by: SDN | May 31, 2012 7:31:57 PM

"No one is patriotic about paying taxes." - George Orwell

Posted by: Joe Redfield | May 31, 2012 6:24:28 PM

Unfortunately, I could not read beyond the first 3 sentences. As a formal law journal editor, I can't believe anyone thinks this is a piece worthy of publication. Let's take the first three sentences one at a time and discuss:

Sentence 1 -> "America is one of the most patriotic countries in the world." Technically, America is not a country. Our country is formally the United States of America. Additionally, the cited source does not support the proposition that the United States is objectively one of the most patriotic nations in the world. Rather, it would support a proposition that the citizens of the United States are more likely to self-report that they are patriotic than citizens or subjects of other nations. Whether the tendency to be more likely to report that one is patriotic is actual evidence of patriotism is a different question entirely.

Sentence 2 -> "Yet, while we take great pride in our country’s accomplishments, Americans hate paying the taxes necessary to support their government." The use of yet is inappropriate, as this sentence does not, absent a transition, necessarily conflict with the prior sentence. Moreover, the author incorrectly uses "while" instead of "although," which is just awful. And once again, the sources cited do not support the proposition that "Americans" hate paying taxes "necessary to support their government." Rather, the sources would support a proposition that U.S. taxpayers have consistently opposed tax increases and taxes viewed as unjustly or unnecessarily imposed.

Sentence 3 -> "Our aversion to taxes has become part of our national psyche, along with the unfounded belief that we are overtaxed." The latter clause of this sentence has more theoretical holes than a piece of Rousseau Swiss. As an initial matter, the author relies on a source in support for this assertion which contains nothing more than comparisons between effective tax rates in different countries. The fact that the people of one country are taxed more or less than the people of another resolves absolutely nothing about whether the people of a country are "overtaxed." Indeed, if "overtaxed" has objective value (and that is the context in which the author uses the term), each country's people could be "overtaxed." Therefore, evidence that other countries tax more than the United States barely even begins to prove that a belief in our overtaxation is unfounded. The author still has to prove one more premise: that the other countries are also not overtaxed (i.e. that there is some clear, universal, global line representing "optimal" taxation not based solely on presuming that a certain amount of revenue is necessary).

If the author edits these sentences, I might read the rest, although the fact that he makes the fundamental yet common error of equating support for the government with support for our nation leaves me less inclined to follow up.

Posted by: Merf23 | May 31, 2012 5:41:05 PM

"The existing research suggests that patriotism may be a weaker tax compliance factor in the United States than it is elsewhere." Than where? Russia? Italy? Greece? Iceland? Taxes are onerous. Who the hell feels patriotic filling out form 1040 or 941? If voluntary compliance rates are high in the US, and they are, it is because most taxpayers realize the necessity and obey the law and fear the consequences of noncompliance. The Tea Party are no more scofflaws than the rest of the population.

Posted by: Zhombre | May 31, 2012 4:50:17 PM

This author is a moron. Advocating for lower tax rates is not the same as advocating not paying legally owed taxes. I dont like taxes, and want them to be lower, but that does not mean I will not pay what I legally owe. And I see nothing patriotic at all about arguing for tax hikes on other people, like the dems do.

Posted by: richard40 | May 31, 2012 4:36:24 PM

Libtard claptrap.

Posted by: TaxDudeSC | May 31, 2012 3:00:17 PM

Does anyone worry about the tax system being undermined by the Occupy crowd?

"Throw me a bone, pay my tutition!" (Video)

Q. Why should anyone pay for your college tuition?

A.'s what I want.

Posted by: Woody | May 31, 2012 11:10:30 AM

The Tea Party is not "anti-tax," as the author claims. ("But, but...I've seen signs at rallies that say that.") Yeah, well, I've seen signs at opposing rallies that said George Bush is Hitler and Dick Cheney is Satan.

What do Tea Party participants primarily want? They want the federal government be a good steward of tax money and, additionally, stay within the bounds of the U.S. Constitution.

But, naturally through the pink eyes of the reactionary left and the "Obama gives us tingles" mainstream media, that makes it racist and extreme, and the author adds (unbelievably) that the Tea Party is unpatriotic! -- ("Yeah, did ya' see all them Tea Party members running off to Canada like those anti-Vietnam war protesters?") The author then joins in the chorus for the government to halt free speech that he opposes and to destroy the Tea Party.

He writes, "...the government should take steps to disentangle American patriotism from its anti-tax roots. ...To the extent the tea party movement is regarded as a minority view in society, the negative impact of its guiding principles on the taxpaying ethos in the United States is likely to be small. But, if the movement succeeds in gaining broad middle class acceptance, then it could impact broader societal viewpoints quickly and create a tipping
point upending the stable tax compliance equilibrium that exists today. What a bunch of malarkey! Note to author: The IRS of Barack "Milhous" Obama is already trying to destroy the movement.

More from the author: "...the government should explicitly assert that there is in fact both a moral and patriotic duty to support the government." Note, again to author, the government has the duty to insure freedoms of its citizens, from whom it derives its authority. ...Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.....

More: "Consequently, this Article proposes that Congress adopt a voluntary 'tax' that citizens could pay as an expression of their patriotism." Please see: How to make volutary contributions to the U.S. Treasury.

Continuing: "...So, the entrepreneur whose business had a bumper year might be reminded that his success derived, in part, from the capitalist system and entrepreneurial spirit fostered and protected by the government." Help me! I can't stop laughiing! Yeah, all those increased mandates and regulations were a big help. Home Depot Founder Bernie Marcus Couldn't Create a Home Depot Today.

But, as the commercials say, "Wait, there's more!" -- "Or a Wall Street banking executive receiving an overly large year-end bonus might feel a pang of guilt at his good fortune, recalling that the government bailed out his employer. Or even a recent law school graduate finally picking up a hefty paycheck after years of hard study might pause to reflect on the fact that his education, costly as it seemed, was in fact heavily subsidized by government spending for education." (Okay, enough, enough!")

This professor not only gets points for publishing something, he gets bonus points from the University of Akron by attacking the Tea Party and (extra bonus!) Sarah Palin, too, in his article. (Is political propaganda and sophomoric conclusions what passes for academic research these days? Probably, as long as it's footnoted.) I'm sorry and I don't want to upset the author should he read this, but "really."

Oh...and no, I'm not a member of the Tea Party, but I, too, am sick of federal waste and deficits, aka deferred tax increases...and, there's a point at which I feel the need to correct rather than suffer fools any longer.

Posted by: Woody | May 31, 2012 7:44:59 AM