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Glorious Tax Season

Tags Taxes and Spending


Tax season is here. This is a time to celebrate. No, I mean it. Not because the State makes its claim on our hard-earned monies known, but because of what is on everybody's mind and the type of activity we're all involved with. Seldom is the State as present in our pockets (and pocket books) as in mid-April every year, when we either learn that we have inadvertently paid even more than the State thinks is its "fair share" of our earnings, or learn that even the outrageous amounts we have already paid weren't enough. And to make matters worse, we waste a lot of productive time to fill out forms and collect receipts—- for the only purpose of proving to the State that we didn't keep any income from them. 

But if we think about it, what tax season really means is that taxation, or legal extortion by the State, is on everybody's mind. Some of our confused peers get tax refunds and appear to consider this a "gift," which may be upsetting for those considering where the money originally came from. On the other hand, it might just be the case that these "confused" individuals have the proper mindset: they consider anything taken or claimed by the State as forever lost - and from this perspective a "refund" is indeed a gift. After all, it seems a bit naive to put faith in having excess ransom paid returned. From this perspective, treating it as an unexpected gift may be the rational approach.

This is also the time of year when many of us for a comparatively small amount of our (remaining) money can hire the best and most experiences experts available to help us figure out how to keep as much as possible of the fruits of our labor. These services are offered ever more cheaply, and they are ever more effective, just as we have come to expect from market providers. Many of us use online services to calculate our taxes, fill out forms, and submit them to the authorities — free of charge or for very small fees.

The contrast to how a large part of our money is spent by the State, on our behalf but likely not with our consent or even to our benefit, couldn't be clearer: the market gives us more and more for less and less, while the government claims more and more to do less and less.

It should be obvious even for the most ardent statist that profit is not — and simply cannot be — the result of exploitation. After all, the tax experts offering their services increase their income every year and provide better and more effective services — and offer their services at overall lower (if any) fees. And still those businesses earn profits. On the other hand, the State — "free" from the profit motive and expectations of returns on investment — charge more, provide less, yet at the same time end up with enormous deficits.

Tax season is simply an educational treasure that should be cherished. If only we could enjoy it without wasting productive resources on unproductive activities. And paying taxes.


Contact Per Bylund

Per Bylund, PhD, is a Senior Fellow of the Mises Institute and Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship and Johnny D. Pope Chair in the School of Entrepreneurship in the Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State University, and an Associate Fellow of the Ratio Institute in Stockholm. He has previously held faculty positions at Baylor University and the University of Missouri. Dr. Bylund has published research in top journals in both entrepreneurship and management as well as in both the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics and the Review of Austrian Economics. He is the author of three full-length books: How to Think about the Economy: A Primer, The Seen, the Unseen, and the Unrealized: How Regulations Affect our Everyday Lives, and The Problem of Production: A New Theory of the Firm. He has edited The Modern Guide to Austrian Economics and The Next Generation of Austrian Economics: Essays In Honor of Joseph T. Salerno. He has founded four business startups and writes a column for Entrepreneur magazine. For more information see PerBylund.com.

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