Is it Wrong or Somehow Unpatriotic to Want to Reduce My Taxes?

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How Can I reduce My Taxes or is that Unpatriotic?

Some believe it is illegal and possibly immoral to use estate planning strategies to reduce one’s taxes. Judge Learned Hand stated more than a century ago that:

“Anyone may arrange his affairs so that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which best pays the treasury. There is not even a patriotic duty to increase one’s taxes. Over and over again the Courts have said that there is nothing sinister in so arranging affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everyone does it, rich and poor alike and all do right, for nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands.”

Is Paying Taxes Patriotic?

As part of our social contract, we ask people and corporations to pay taxes, which fund our democratic government, which works on behalf of everyone. This is the idea, at least. No matter how you feel about how well our government performs, or how clunky our tax code might be, you can probably agree that taxes are the price that we pay to live in a society like ours. Rich people and big companies, who have more means, and whose success is dependent upon the rule of law that the government makes possible, pay the most taxes, and, by the way, get the most benefit from America’s stable society, which is funded by those taxes. Taxes are the price of admission to a functional America.

Taxes are, in a word, patriotic.

Despite this, it is well known that rich people and big companies do everything they can to minimize the amount of taxes they pay. (Gawker Media is an acknowledged tax-avoider.) They do not go about this in the spirit of good faith; they go about it quite brazenly in the spirit of keeping every last penny in their own pockets and out of the public coffers. It is an aggressive plan to fight the spirit of the law. There is no honest attempt to justify this practice by saying that the very rich or successful companies need this revenue more than the U.S. government does. There is nothing but a singleminded pursuit of money maximization, at the expense of the public. It is not a secret. Hedge funds employ sophisticated strategies to avoid billions of dollars in taxes. Major American corporations are busily fleeing our shores—on paper only—for the sole purpose of not giving tax revenue to our government. Even successful companies that are already paying effective tax rates well under the stated US corporate tax rate think nothing of leaving America altogether to shave several percentage points off their taxes. It is money above all.