Death And Taxes: The Case For Tax Residency
The case for Tax Residency
The “only things certain in life,” it has been said, “are death and taxes.” While death is certain, an inevitability we all have to accept. Taxes are not.
It need not be such a certainty.
Though it is something we have accepted as an inevitable fact, “a consequence of living in society”, we say to ourselves.
So the question comes, why is it believed? Why have we believed taxes to be such a certainty in life, that it has been equated with ‘death’- the only true certainty?
Perhaps it’s because of the lack of questioning, the lack of curiosity that compels us to believe another, such that, when something is said, we believe without investigating ourselves?
So lets question.
Are taxes for certain?
Well, for one.
We are no longer limited to the temporal space in which we were born.
We no longer live in a world where we are confined by the borders of a single nation-state.
We (most of us) are not the dominions of a king or the loyal subject of a monarchy that would shape our lives according to their pleasure.
Those that are reading this are likely fortunate in having the opportunity to move far beyond the reaches of a single authority.
There are countless possibilities of transcending our conditions. Of moving beyond the conditions that we are born into.
We are no longer slaves by birth where we are fated to live as our fathers and their fathers before them.
Though we often give over our authority to another, sometimes willingly, under the false hopes of a better tomorrow.
Because we lack the courage to reclaim that ownership, that vision of self that is freed from the bondage of another.
Another nation, home, place, all become ball and chains that tie us to limiting ideas of responsibility, of duty.
We’ve never really questioned this responsibility, instead, we’ve taken it as it was our own.
It has been assumed. An assumption that breeds all manner of limiting notions.
Another question that comes, if we see this bondage that we are in, are we capable of breaking free from it?
If we accept our circumstances as inevitable, as fixed, we are already finished. We have already given up. And it's over before we’ve begun.
We have already given our authority to another. We’re theirs to command.
Content to live our life by the second-hand truths of others, never making anything our own.
Maybe we are slaves?
The case for taxes
Benjamin Franklin proclaimed, this certainty of death and taxes, him like others before him, accepted the conditions that he faced (like others, as he he was not the first to coin the phrase).
While 18th century New America would have provided little means by which to escape the seeming inevitability of taxes (or so he would argue).
It was still a few decades before settlers decided to move westward in search for freedom and wealth, and Franklin, likely would not have considered moving into the wilderness to escape the taxman.
And so he, went along with others.
He accepted the inevitability of taxes, bowed to circumstances and its fate and sided with the revolutionaries of the time joining in the chorus of society.
It is societies ideas we take as our own, if we do not reclaim our own right. Instead of following our own vision, we take the visions of others.
Thus he went along shouting with the mobs in the streets “no taxation without representation.”
Little did he know this chorus would become the chant of the new world.
However, even then, this collective angst was felt.
The burden of being stripped of their own right to decide. Being denied representation is like being denied the right to act according to one's own vision. They too felt the injustices of being taxed and subjugated by an authority living many miles away without a voice of their own.
Collectively they wanted sovereignty. The right to chose. To live and work as per their will. And this is the same story being re-told by many today.
The only difference is - that we have more than two options, we do not need to fight nor do we have to move into the wilderness to escape taxes.
In fact, it's not just about moving house, to avoid taxation to go live in some far-flung country in an attempt to live happily every after - it’s about the freedom to chose. The freedom of choice that is inevitably tied not only to where we live, but how we live. It's about possibilities. There is more potential in man when he is free to choose according to his vision.
The potential is not just merely more resources, but by reclaiming something that we have given away. Our authority.
What else does man have but his own authority?
His own right to follow his “pursuit of happiness”.
After all, that chanting angry mob who later dumped all that British tea in Boston Harbor which started the Revolutionary War all started because of this idea.
For what is man, if he does not have the right to decide for himself?
The American founding fathers saw the importance of this pursuit in man, and the fundamental drive this desire impels that they found an entire new land upon its pursuit recognizing that it is what gives life to the lives of men.
Seeing how instinctual this impulse is, that without it, one is but a slave to a master.
Losing money because you have to pay taxes is not the whole story, it is just one part of it. The broader narrative is one where man faces his own compromised self.
To confront his own inability to live courageously.
We give away our authority, our freedom of choice to others as a result of circumstance believing we have none.
Whenever we feel that we have no choice, we have resigned our lives to others, and are only as free as the random fortunes of fate and circumstance.
Luckily, for us, we have options and don’t need to run into the wilderness to escape the taxman.