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Rabbi Bulka's Weekly Question

Is it wrong to withhold taxes to protest expenses on things such as military weapons?

There are few people who happily pay taxes.

Left to individual choice, people would opt to keep their earnings instead of giving away a significant percentage.

This level of shortsightedness is understandable at a certain level, as our taxes make affordable many of the services we eagerly enjoy.

Additionally, it is fair to suggest that if we were handed the full list of items made possible by our taxes, we would find at least an item or two to which we would object.

Military weapons are one of many potentially controversial items funded by our tax dollars.

How about the realistic chance that the government in power is not the government you voted for? In such instance, you may object to almost everything that the tax dollars address, since you object to the government that's in charge.

Simply put, if people were allowed to withhold taxes because of objections to government policy or expenses, the entire tax system would descend into anarchy. This would compromise the host of social services and support programs offered by the government.

It is not as if our citizens have no means to protest. Such means are readily available to everyone.

One further point. Our taxes go for many things, including critical social services that help the poor, the needy, the not well, the seniors, etc. They also go for military/defence needs. We do not know exactly where each dollar goes. We know only in general where the dollars go.

There is a distinct possibility that dollars withheld from taxes may compromise social services rather than military expenditures.

This means that even if one could by some wild argument countenance withholding of taxes, it in the end may wind up punishing innocent people, and is thereby morally not justifiable.

For this and other reasons previously enumerated, it is fair to say that it is never justified to withhold taxes -- to break the law, no matter what the reason.

Originally published in the Ottawa Citizen on  November 17, 2007

Sat, March 28 2020 3 Nisan 5780