Tag Archives: taxes

How You, too, Can Avoid All Taxes!

MossackThe media this week has been full of chatter about corporate inversions, the Panama papers, Mossack Fonseca, shell companies, and the mountains of $$$$ and other currency units that the world’s elite has anonymously stashed in some 70 to 92 swarmy tax havens worldwide. We’re talking about maybe $21 to $32 trillion according to the Tax Justice Network, an international research and advocacy organization.

Oh yeah, for years, governments have talked about cracking down on the elite tax cheats. The U.S. government famously requires all “U.S. persons” to report annually all their foreign-based financial accounts and assets and has conducted a high profile shakedown campaign against a variety of large overseas banks that had previously provided their American clientele with banking privacy, i.e. tax avoidance. But while Uncle Sam self-righteously collects $billions in fines from those cheating foreign banks, it overlooks the tax-avoiding shell game run by its own states of Delaware, Nevada, and South Dakota! Talk about hypocrisy.

Most nations’ governments realize that they just can’t keep up with the high-priced and highlysecreting cash creative “financial gunslingers” that the rich and infamous hire in order to keep their money safely beyond the reach of national revenue agents. So the tax man often resorts to making deals in order to collect even a token amount from the wealthy elite. As the CBC journalist Don Pettis noted:

“If you have enough money to move your funds overseas, you have enough money to retain lawyers and accountants and, rather than fight, because of a lack of resources the revenue agency folds like a cheap suit,” said PEI Senator Percy Downe in a CBC interview. Governments need revenue to go on operating. If corporate tax goes abroad and rich people’s taxes go abroad, who is left paying the taxes? Well, you and me, of course.” http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/inversions-panama-revenue-quandary-1.3521358

It’s painfully easy for governments to collect their taxes from us. We can’t hide our salaries, pensions, property, or the daily goods and services we need in order to live. For the most part, the ordinary citizen is pretty transparent, while the wealthy elite is mostly opaque to the government’s tax man. The core message about ubiquitous taxation in the Beatle’s 1960s song “Taxman” remains contemporary.

Anywise, we already knew that the rich and powerful elite who run this world — these One and Two Percenters who also own the majority of this world’s assets — avoid much of their lawful tax obligation. After all, they’re the aristocracy of this present society, and we’re just the peasants. We are made to pay the bills. This has been the story throughout the history of humanity. Kings and their ruling elite make ordinary “Joes” pay the taxes. Jesus of Nazareth understood this perfectly:

“After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax (a tax equal to two days’ work) came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”  “Yes, he does,” he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?” “From others,” Peter answered. “Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. “But so that we may not cause offence, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours,” Matthew 17:24-27 (NIV).

Jesus’ point to Peter was that for now, in this world of darkness held captive by the Adversary and his collaborators, we, the people of God, pay taxes and put up with what is unfair. This is not our kingdom. And that’s a good sign because we’re looking for a new world in which righteousness dwells and a never-ending life of peace and prosperity that no amount of the ruling elite’s money could buy. Consider, once again, this updated story about Jesus and taxes:

Ben FranklinThe rich and the powerful of the world’s ruling elite sent some of their agents, along with some of the national government’s tax collectors and informants, to meet with Jesus. “Teacher,” they said, “we know how honest you are. You teach the way of God truthfully. You are impartial and don’t play favourites. Now tell us what you think about this: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” But Jesus knew their evil motives [they were looking for grounds to accuse him]. “You hypocrites!” he said. “Why are you trying to trap me? Here, show me the coin used to pay your tax.” When they handed him a Roman coin, [like a U.S. $100 bill with Ben Franklin’s image on it]  he asked, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?”  “Caesar’s,” they replied.“Well, then,” he said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.” His reply amazed them, and they went away. Matthew 22:16-22 (my paraphrase).

There is a spiritual payoff for those who now give God His due. In the coming Kingdom of God they will become the children of God the Father, and brothers and sisters of the King of kings [Christ] and so will be far freer from the exaction of every debt and obligation than even this world’s elite is today from the tax man.

Economic Inequality: Putting Off the Day of Reckoning

Right before our eyes the common person’s hope for the “good life” is unraveling, like a loosely woven tapestry being steadily picked apart thread by tread. Life, as we know it, is getting progressively more difficult and more insecure for billions of people in this world due the dramatic rise of economic inequality.income_inequality teeter

In its just released annual report, the United Nation’s Development Program warned that much of the 20th Century’s “improvements in longevity, education and income—the three main components of what is called the index of human development—are slowing due to worsening inequality and economic disruptions, to droughts and other natural disasters and to poor government policies.” (The Associated Press, “Improvements in people’s lives being put at risk, UN says,” Times-Colonist, July 25, 2014)

This UN report noted that the 85 richest people in the world now have as much accumulated wealth as about half of all humanity–some 3.5 billion people or 48 percent of the world’s population. Think about it! Eighty-five individuals have as much as roughly half the world’s population! Something is seriously out of balance and systemically broken or, if you prefer, distorted and corrupted.

wealth-pyramidThe financial writer Paul Rosenberg asserts that this chasm of disparity wouldn’t have been possible without the rise of the modern nation-state and what we call democracy. Before the rise of the “modern” state, the debts of the chief rulers of a country were his personal responsibility alone. However, such men surely made their problems the people’s problems, too! Obviously such wealthy, ruling elites of old would shake down the populations under their control to raise funds to pay THEIR debts–just like old King John of England and his nobles, who were made famous for such a tale of avarice through the Robin Hood legends.

But now loans are not taken out in the personal name of a “King John,” but in the name of an entire nation’s population. As Paul Rosenberg writes:

From the institution of democracy onward, loaning money to a government gave the banker [the central bank, international banks, etc.] a claim against the taxes of the people… a claim that never expires. All the citizens, and their children [and all the succeeding generations], become responsible for repaying the loan.

This was a clever trick: The person who signs for the loan ends up bearing almost no responsibility, and gets to spend all the money. At the same time, millions of people who greednever approved the debt—who probably had no way of even knowing about it—are left holding the bag… and passing on the obligation to their children. (Casey Research newsletter, The Room with Dan Steinhart, July 25, 2014)

Ballooning indebtedness is happening not only to the West, but throughout the entire world. According to Switzerland’s Bank of International Settlements [the B.I.S. is the central banker to the world’s central bankers like the U.S. Federal Reserve], since the financial crisis of 2007, the worldwide debt load has soared more than 40 percent to the current 100 trillion dollars! http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-09/global-debt-exceeds-100-trillion-as-governments-binge-bis-says.html

sminequality_scanlon_r2U.S. Federal debt alone is more than US$56,000 per American. Total European Union public debt averages about 23,000 Euros or about US$ 31,000 per person. http://www.eudebtclock.org/

But, of course, skyrocketing debt isn’t the only factor fostering the growing inequality. Consider what Rex Van Schalkwyk, a financial writer for the Casey Report newsletter says:

The real cause of the inequality that so troubles politicians [are they really bothered?] is the systematic destruction of the free markets over the last century. The essential wealth-building effects of those markets became, at first, more elusive and finally, altogether inaccessible to all but the privileged elite: those who have systematically benefited from an exclusive arrangement. This includes the unlawful front-running of equities and other financial markets through the mechanism of high-frequency trading, a device of the exclusive economy.

Because there is today no free market in the cost of money (interest rates), there cannot be a free market in anything that is counted in money. Low interest rates—systematically depressed by the Federal Reserve over the past two decades—have enriched the bankers, the borrowers, the financial institutions, and the speculators at the expense of the frugal, the pensioners, and the teachers.

Financial asset and property prices have exploded, making them accessible only to those richest getting richerwho already have them. The result is that 90% of the wealth has gone to the 5%, while 10% has gone to the 95%. The predictable outcome is that the 95% have experienced no real income growth in the past 30 years. The middle class has been eviscerated. (Casey Research newsletter, The Room with Dan Steinhart, July 25, 2014)

Actually the real cause for the growing erosion of the world’s hope for a better material future is more profound, and more foundational than even the UN’s Development Program, the Bank for International Settlements, or the writers of Casey Research might suggest. I’m not saying they’re wrong, but that what they point out are just symptoms or consequences of something more foundation to this issue of our obscene inequality.

The actual roots of the inequality problem can be found in the fact that humanity, generally, and certainly this world’s governing financial and political elite, specifically, have turned their backs on and completely rejected the revelation on the financial and economic fairness principles that were presented to us all for all time by our Creator.

From our Creator’s perspective, human society by its very nature needed a financial system that would systematically, and regularly purge accumulated debt from both individuals and society as a whole. It also needed an episodical re-distribution of what constitutes the foundation of wealth accumulation in this world –  land. Specifically, land that is or can be economically productive. By periodically re-distributing a nation’s economically productive real estate, a society can avoid concentrating wealth in the hands of the few and the disenfranchising the majority from owning the foundational source of economic wealth – land. The Creator of humanity instituted two main features in His program to maintain social equality, economic balance and fairness – the Sabbatical Year and the Jubilee.

“At the end of every seven years [the Sabbatical year] you shall grant a release. 2 And this is the manner of the release: every creditor shall release what he has lent to his neighbor. He shall not exact it of his neighbor, his brother, because the Lord’s release has been proclaimed.” Deuteronomy 15:1-9 (ESV)

“You shall count seven weeks of years [seven Sabbatical years], seven times seven years, so that the time of the seven weeks of years shall give you forty-nine years. 9 Then you shall sound the loud trumpet on the tenth day of the seventh month On the Day of Atonement [an annual event designed to restore spiritual harmony between God and man, as well as that of everyman with his neighbour] you shall sound the trumpet throughout all your land. 10 And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants [The inscription of this verse is found on the American Liberty Bell in Philadelphia]. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan. Leviticus 25:8-10 (ESV) 

politics how worksOf course the bankers, multi-nation corporations, and wealthy elite would hate the Sabbatical Year and the Jubilee for obvious reasons. But what they don’t understand, is that such a godly system would provide them with security and peace instead of a day reckoning, a time of financial disaster and social turmoil, that is coming.

The richest get richer while you get unemployment and taxes

It used to be that we in North America like to hear about rising profits and business success in our large corporations. Why? Because we hoped that such good news would translate into more jobs and better paying jobs for us—the middle and working classes. Sadly, this is not the reality for 21st Century North Americans. According to The Economist newsmagazine,

Corporate America has bounced back impressively. The quarterly results season that is now nearly over has revealed that profits are back within a whisker of the all-time highs achieved before the downturn in late 2008,” (p. 62, August 7, 2010).

Why are corporate profits back up to 11% of the U.S.A.’s GDP? Well, big business squeezed down costs through a combination of layoffs, wage cuts, reduced hours, and reduced benefits. Many people have discovered that their once full-time work with benefits has been reduced to part-time work or independent contractor status with few benefits. As The Economist noted “US unit labour costs falling at their fastest clip in the post-war era” made those healthy big business profits possible.

Actually, this trend is not new. It really started more than a generation ago and merely reflects a speeding up of the erosion of the standard of life for the North American middle and working classes.  Our national wealth is rapidly shifting into the pockets of the richest of the rich. Diane Frances said in her article “In most countries people work harder than in U.S., Canada,”Financial Post, Aug. 17. 2010):

In 1980, the richest 1% in the United States received 9% of its total national income. In 2007… the  [top] 1% took home 23% of the income. In the 1970s CEOs made 40 times the average compensation of workers. Now it is 350 times. The top 25 hedge-fund managers (the people who brought you the 2008’s Great Recession) made an average of US$1 Billion and paid 17% income tax, a lower marginal rate than paid by middle-class families.

I still remember the outrage I felt about our economic system some thirty years ago when I was working as a real estate agent in Los Angeles. Back then I was making about $40,000 a year and was paying far more in taxes than some of my clients who were making several millions a year in profits. As Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labour during the Clinton presidency and now a university economics professor, observes,

Bottomline: higher corporate profits no longer lead to higher employment. We’re witnessing a great decoupling of company profits from [North American] jobs ( The Economist, August 7, 2010).

In essence, big corporations have shifted many jobs overseas to much lower wage nations like China while those jobs remaining here are under intense pressure to cut wages/benefits. In his August 28, 2010 commentary in the National Post newspaper entitled “American Apocalypse” Conrad Black notes that while American unemployment is officially listed at about 9.6%, when the chronically underemployed are added into the statistic the real lack of work is around 18% of the U.S. workforce—misery levels approaching those of the 1930s Great Depression.

Nevertheless, the fat cats, the richest of the rich, have successfully manipulated our North American political system to give themselves advantageous tax and securities law treatment. And, of course, the richest of the rich– because they have the power and corporate control–have been rewarding themselves with spectacular pay increases and fantastic bonuses even while they squeeze the pay of their employees in order to keep the gravy train of corporate profits rolling for their own benefit.

Sadly, the avaricious human nature has not changed much over thousands of years. As the Roman Empire became increasingly corrupt, the wealth of the empire became increasingly concentrated into the hands of the wealthy few while the small landowners and free labourers of Italy were increasing squeezed by taxes, cheap imports, and slave labour that undermined their ability to make a decent living. Eventually, the Roman Empire collapsed because few found it in their interest to support it against the “barbarians.” While some aspects of barbarian culture seemed less appealing, like wearing itchy furs, styling one’s hair with rancid butter, and being deeply involved in the weapons culture of the day–on the other hand–the taxes were low to non-existent and one had a shot at dumping debts and getting a new start at life. So area after area of the Roman Empire gradually fell to the control of the freedom-loving “barbarians” moving West—who, of course, were the ancestors of many North Americans. Ironic?

The love of money and social inequity is a serious spiritual  challenge to our present society. Jesus of Nazareth warned us to beware of materialism.

Mark 10:23-25 The Message: Looking at his disciples, Jesus said, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for people who ‘have it all’ to enter God’s kingdom?” The disciples couldn’t believe what they were hearing, but Jesus kept on: “You can’t imagine how difficult. I’d say it’s easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye than for the rich to get into God’s kingdom.

This is a real challenge for those of us today who believe that life’s “winners” are those who accumulate the most toys. The real winners, however, will be those whom God will call His very own children, giving them eternal life in His everlasting Kingdom. They will have an exciting, abundant life that never ends.

Reaping what we sow–gendercide and abortion

“The right to liberty… guarantees a degree of personal autonomy over important decisions intimately affecting his or her private life. … The decision whether or not to terminate a pregnancy is essentially a moral decision and in a free and democratic society, the conscience of the individual must be paramount to that of the state.” (Morgentaler et al. v. Her Majesty The Queen, [1988] 1 S.C.R. 30 at 37)

As a consequence of the above legal opinion by Canada’s supreme court, abortion is entirely unrestricted in Canada. In our brave and free True North country, there are about 100,000 abortions to Canadian women each year. Statistics Canada says in its most recent 2005 figures that there were 96,815 abortions, while in 2004 this figure was 100,039. This is more than all the people who live in Nanaimo and its surrounding suburbs! Since 1989 roughly 2,100,000 Canadian babies have been aborted, roughly equivalent to half the population of the province of British Columbia. That’s quite a crowd of not-to-be taxpayers, moms, and dads.

Is abortion negatively affecting Canadian society? Well, I know this is a silly question that has only one answer. Our B.C. provincial finance minister when presenting his post-Olympics austerity budget for the coming year gloomily forecast eroding worker to retiree ratios and warned of a disappearing tax base. To make up for the dearth of native-born workers paying Canadian Pension Plan and other taxes to support our current social schemes, our government admits that it must beat the drum more loudly to convince outsiders to immigrate to our presently affluent but increasingly unsustainable society.

So hey, you would-be immigrant strangers, come to Canada and pay our bills so we can maintain the lifestyle to which we’ve become accustomed! We couldn’t be bothered to have enough kids to take care of us in our old age, but come on you all, and do it in their place! We’ll even let you wave those little plastic Canadian flags on July 1st.

What will happen here in B.C. as the number of babies born to our women continues dropping? We presently whine in our letters to the editor about school closings and other unpopular school program cuts being made by those nasty school boards year after year due to declining attendance. But in the near future many Canadian businesses will start struggling to get the workers they need to replace the aging baby-boomers in order for the economy to just keep running in place. Will we be able to keep our stuff and our society as a whole fixed, running, and safe till we die? Who knows?

But consequences of abortion are affecting other nations in even more serious ways. Consider the case of some of the largest Asian societies. Due to governmental one-child policies, and ancient prejudices favouring sons, millions of baby girls have been aborted in China and India amongst other East Asian Nations. Twenty years ago in 1990 the Indian economist Amartya Sen estimated this “gendercide” at approximately 100 million baby girls. By 2010 the figure has undoubtedly grown much higher. There are now scores of millions of young men with little prospect of finding wives and establishing families.

According to the March 6th issue of The Economist magazine’s article on the subject, “Throughout human history, young men have been responsible for the vast preponderance of crime and violence—especially single men in countries where status and social acceptance depend on being married and having children as it does in China and India.” The problem of this disparity between single men and available women is just getting worse in Asia. One thing The Economist didn’t mention is that also throughout history states have used the aggressiveness of unattached single men, the bare branches, as soldiers in their armies.

Did you know that a vision of hundreds of millions of desperate men on the move in Asia was actually prophesied in the book of Revelation?

Then the four angels who had been prepared for this hour and day and month and year were turned loose to kill one-third of all the people on earth. I heard the size of their army, which was 200 million mounted troops (Revelation 9:15-16 New Living Version).

Just one hundred years ago the idea of a 200 million man army coming out of the East was assumed to be preposterous and just another example of a biblical flight of fancy. Considering the actual facts of what is developing right now in China and India, such a prophecy should sober us considerably.

Asian societies do not have the heritage of the Judeo-Christian scriptures. The massive slaughter of girl babies in Asia reflects their traditions and would appear logical according to their values. That is their excuse. What is ours?

A foundational moral teaching of both Old and New Covenants is that “you shall love your neighbour as yourself.” Aren’t our unborn children the closest neighbour any parent could ever have? If we are willing to consign an innocent neighbour to death for our mere personal convenience, don’t we deserve the same? Perhaps the future holds out something far more ominous from the East than merely hordes of immigrants whom we import to pay our debts in the places of sons and daughters who never were.