Tuesday, August 31, 2010

This is from a Mises.org piece called "The Bankrupt Finnish Welfare State"

by Kaj Grussner (link to article):
As a rule, the tax authorities don't care about the law, in the rare event they even know it. Not only that, but it is clear from the way they act that they consider every penny to be their money, and may only be retained by the taxpayer at their discretion. It even happens that they make up arguments that are blatantly false and without any legal ground whatsoever in order to levy more taxes and impose various other sanctions. When the taxpayers challenge their outrageous claims, they simply ignore the challenges and press on as if nothing has happened — even though the constitution mandates that all decisions and rulings made by a government agency must be based on law and thoroughly explained.

This doesn't seem to apply to the tax authorities though, and neither do other legal principles. In all other matters, you are innocent until proven guilty, but if the taxman charges you with something, it is you who has to prove your innocence. If you fail, you're guilty, and it is the tax authorities who decide whether you fail.

This type of behavior is certainly familiar to the American public, as the IRS has subjected them to all kinds of violations. However, these violations, taking place no less regularly in Finland than in the United States, fly in the face of the aura of utopia that seems to surround the social-democratic welfare states of Northern Europe.

The statists may be very comfortable with high taxes, but even they tend to become squeamish when they hear of the havoc wrought upon private individuals and their families by the tax authorities. And it is of course the private individuals and small businessmen who suffer the most aggression, because they seldom have the knowledge or the resources to defend themselves. Billionaires and big corporations at least have a fighting chance; the little guys don't. So much for the compassionate society.
Hey! I just looked at his blog (linked on his name). Stef's going to interview him. Cool!

Most of the article is, in fact, about the bankruptcy of the welfare state in Finnland. The tax bureaucracy is part of it. Grussner, btw, is a tax lawyer there.


The probligo said...

I always find this kind of critique more than a little strange. Why?

Well, look at it this way.

In NZ, we have the Inland Revenue Department. It doesn't differ (as I understand its function) from IRS or any other "democratic revenue gathering bureaucracy".

Like every other bureaucracy I know, the IRD has its Rules. Most of these Rules are set by Statute and one should not lose sight of this very important fact. The IRD does not make its own "Rules". There are processes and authorities it carries for the interpretation of the Rules but that is no different to the presence of a referee on the football field or an umpire behind home base. There are also - in the same NZ law, processes for the appeal of decisions made by the IRD. In those judicial processes the IRD is required to justify (as in any other civil case) the actions it has taken.

To cut to the chase, I have this strong feeling that Mise is doing nothing more than any talk-balk radio host - rarking the natives to keep their ratings.


Al said...

So you've actually got someone trustworthy "watching the watchers" in NZ?