Taxing Away Over 11,000 Lives a Year

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Tom Purcell does a good job cataloguing the current absurdity of the income tax. (I can't agree with his suggested remedies, which would treat only the symptoms and not the underlying disease.) My "favorite", because I really felt it this year, was the ridiculous amount of time that we all have to waste (or pay someone else to waste) preparing our returns.

The tax code is incredibly complicated -- so complicated that, according to the National Taxpayers Union, Americans spend 7.64 billion hours and $227.1 billion complying with the tax laws every year.
Purcell goes on to note that the tax code, originally only sixteen pages long, now tips the scales at 75,000 pages.

The American life expectancy is currently just over seventy eight and a half years. Let's be generous and apply it to everyone, just to see how much time we lose each year, measured in human lives:
7.64 billion hours doing taxes x 1 year/8765.81 man-hours x 1 life/78.64 years = 11,083 man-lives each year.
The government bans or severely restricts access to many things that cost far fewer lives each year. It speaks volumes that there isn't a frenzy to abolish taxation.

This is not to say that the government should be in the business of prohibiting people from risky behavior that harms no one else, or that equivalent lives lost is a guide to its proper role. The fundamental problem is that the government is violating -- rather than protecting -- our rights. The fact that it might as well be taking over 11,000 lives per year merely illustrates the extent of the problem. And this doesn't even account for the time it took to earn the looted money or the what else it might have cost to prepare the taxes!

-- CAV


Vigilis said...

The equivalence of wasted time to human lives is brilliant, Gus.

There is also an inobvious waste equivalence of greater magnitude. According to the Congressional Research Service, there are now over 175,500 total pages in the Code of Federal Regulations, an increase of more than 21 percent over the last decade. The 2013-14 Careers in Federal Government Regulation lists 19,277 full-time federal lawyer-regulators.

There are 257 lawyer-regulators (paid by taxpayers) for every 1,000 pages of regs. The Treasury Department (2255) does not even have the greatest number of lawyers (although it had Lois Lerner).

Let's replace the Revenue Code with a national sales tax!

Gus Van Horn said...

Thanks for the compliment. That said, we can, simply by considering some average dollar amount of productivity per hour, make the same analysis of any tax. The toll would be even greater, I am sure.

I can't support any non-voluntary payment of revenue to the government (such as an income tax or a sales tax). The government should resort to other measures, such as lotteries, fees in exchange for enforcing contracts, and private donations. I think the latter would be plentiful were the government reduced to its proper scope: People would have a strong interest in it being able to do its job!

Steve D said...

Gus, I agree that there should NEVER be any non-voluntary payment. OTOH, if the choice is being robbed vs. being made to fill out long complex forms so they can rob me more efficiently; well the choice is obvious.
Your reply brought to mind a question which I have long had and I am not sure of the answer. Assume a government, funded completely by voluntary means, engages in an activity outside its proper function of protecting individual rights – for example; a government agency solicits voluntary funding for a space program. What is the moral status of that? It seems to me that no one’s rights have been violated (but they weren’t protected either).

Gus Van Horn said...


Interesting question...

Setting aside a proper, defense-oriented space program, one question question is: What are the people in the agency supposed to be doing? Whatever that is, they are defrauding donors (for example) and not fulfilling their jobs, to the extent they are doing this activity on government time.

Also, using the prestige of the government to advance a non-governmental goal would probably be covered by their employment contracts in a free society.