The Attributes of Immoral Laws or How the Internal Revenue Code Applies to Non-Resident Taxpayers

 

cross-posted from Tax Connections

After the latest IRS Medic podcast, Tax Connections published a post by Anthony Parent.

Perhaps the most unifying statement of the post is:

A part of our interview that really stands out to me is when Attorney Richardson referred to the current system of global taxation and compliance as immoral.

John Richardson answers :

As a person who lives “offshore”, and attempts to assist individuals who are “tax residents” of other countries (Canada and others), I am a keen observer of the damage (perhaps “carnage”) that the Internal Revenue Code inflicts on people who do not live in the United States.

As a law student I had little interest in the philosophy of law. As a person who sees how the extra-territorial application of laws impacts the lives of ordinary people, I recently had the following memory.

Many years ago I was introduced to Professor Lon Fuller’s (of Harvard law school fame) book titled “The Morality of Law”. In Chapter 2 he describes “The Morality That Makes Law Possible”. It is a fascinating and relevant read. He identifies the following (among others) as characteristics of immoral laws:

– retroactive laws
– laws that lack clarity
– contradictory laws
– laws requiring the impossible
– laws that are not constant through time – laws where the law is applied in a manner that is inconsistent with it’s intent (FBAR anyone?)

Professor Fuller was writing in the early 1970s. Looks to me as though the application of the Internal Revenue Code to “tax residents” of other countries, was specifically designed to include all of these immoral attributes.

Funny how rereading Professor Fuller’s book many years (at least one generation) later reminded me of the great American writer Mark Twain:

“When I was 14 my father was so ignorant I couldn’t stand to with him. By the time I turned 21, I was amazed at how much my father had learned in 7 years.”
 

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