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I can now confirm that going through a government tax audit is every… - delta_november

Sep. 8th, 2012

08:31 pm

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I can now confirm that going through a government tax audit is every bit as unpleasant as you might think.  They need me to detail all of the GST/HST I paid between April and June, and how it relates to goods sold.  Every $2 bottle of distilled water for the ultrasonic cleaner, bought from the drug store with $0.26 of HST, needs to be properly described and documented.  Not my favourite way to spend a weekend.

This continues my generally poor relationship with the CRA.  I wonder how, in an ideal society, this could be made better.  If we privatized taxation, via tax farming, might an individual have a free market choice of which taxation agency to deal with?  Could I fire my taxman for being excessively annoying and go with a better one (possibly at the cost of slightly higher rates)?  I'm sure Heinlein has something to say on the subject.

Comments:

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From:kiwano
Date:September 11th, 2012 09:17 pm (UTC)
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I'd imagine that were such a thing actually to come to pass, we'd end up with tax collectors who work for a percentage of the taxes they collect, and who consequently overcharge the folks they collect taxes from, and fail to report all their collections to the government (so they can pocket more of the money themselves). The potential for abuses of this nature would quickly lead to regulation, and the consequent oligopoly, while failing to actually prevent the abuses.

Basically, in addition to the mandated robbery, the privatized tax collecters would engage in some additional forms of robbery, and provide you with all the customer service that you've come to expect from a telco, or a bank. :P
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From:delta_november
Date:September 11th, 2012 09:46 pm (UTC)
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Yes, I suspect you're right. Real life tax farming has a very poor history with exactly those abuses you mention. St Matthew, the gospel writer, was a Roman tax farmer which made him a social pariah.
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From:kiwano
Date:September 11th, 2012 10:15 pm (UTC)
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Sometimes when I want to think of the church as having some sort of sane basis for its authority, I like to think of the Bible as "this great big book full of mistakes that people have made in the past", and their moral prescriptions having more of a tone of "yeah, I know that seems like a good idea, but it was already tried around where the Suez canal is now, about 4000 years ago, and it had this unexpected side-effect which then freaked everyone out so badly that they started burning their children alive, so you might want to reconsider."

This is especially the case when I see how much of the study of theology seems to revolve around developing the technical skill of making sense of stories the way that people told them several thousand years ago (and which were then translated a few times just to complicate matters further). One such morsel I remember being told by someone who studied theology is that all the "and so and so begat such and such" passages were most likely a way to measure the passage of time between events, when people hadn't really gotten the hang of counting years, generations, or any of those things.
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