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Cheating the Government

 

Guest post by Rabbi Eli D. Clark

Does Halakha permit one to cheat the U.S. government? The intuitive answer is no. Shemuel ruled, “Dina de-malkhuta dina – the law of the government is binding law.”[1] This rule has limitations. The government must enjoy the consent of the governed.[2] Some limit the principle to laws relating to land, because the authority of the government derives from its ownership of the territory of the state.[3] This rationale also underlies the view that in Eretz Yisrael, where the land belongs to all of the people, the principle of dina de-malkhuta does not apply.[4]

Based on this principle, the Gemara affirms the government’s right to levy taxes.[5] Rambam holds that a tax is not legitimate unless it is calculated objectively.[6] Semag states that tax evasion is theft.[7] Similarly, the Arukh ha-Shulhan writes regarding taxes that “every single Jew is obligated to follow the laws of the state in which resides.”[8] Nevertheless, some modern posekim disagree.

The Ungvarer Rav, R. Menashe Klein, rules that tax evasion does not constitute theft, but is rather like non-payment of a debt to a gentile (hafka’at halva’ato) which is permissible.[9] As proof, he cites Rashi,[10] who says that non-payment of a debt is permitted in the absence of a hillul Hashem. But R. Klein also cites the view of Rabbenu Yonah, who advised that one should not evade taxes, because it can lead a person to lose all of his possessions [i.e. if he gets caught].

R. Menashe Klein’s ruling has been embraced in practice by many kollelim in Israel. The context is a cash rebate awarded by the Internal Revenue Service known as the “additional child tax credit.” One can receive up to $1,000 per child, but only if he earns income, meaning he is paid for working in some capacity.

The problem is that most kollel students in Israel don’t work and don’t get paid. Does this mean that they are ineligible for the $1,000 credit per child? Not necessarily.

A few days ago I received a phone call from an American who teaches in an Israeli yeshiva. He pays taxes in Israel, but also files U.S. tax returns and receives the credit for his children. Recently, he was audited by the IRS. To prove that he earns a salary, he submitted copies of his pay slips and a form filed by his yeshiva with the Israeli Tax Authority summarizing his annual income and the amount of Israeli income tax withheld from his salary.

These documents were rejected by the IRS examiner. “We do not accept these forms if they come from a yeshiva,” they told him. In other words, there is now a hazaka at the Internal Revenue Service that employment information provided by Israeli yeshivot are fabrications. If you are employed by an Israeli gas station, the IRS believes you; if you are employed by a yeshiva, they don’t.

Apparently motivated by a desire to support Torah study, frum Jews and Torah institutions have engaged in dishonesty on a wide scale. This in itself is a serious violation of Halakha, according to most authorities. Worse, the IRS has caught on to the fraud, causing a major hillul Hashem. (Even R. Menashe Klein prohibits cheating the government where it results in a hillul Hashem.) Finally, because so many “benei Torah” have lied and cheated, honest marbitzei Torah are being suspected of deceit.

As we approach Tisha be-Av, we need to consider that sinat hinam may not be the only sin delaying the geula.

Rabbi Eli D. Clark lives in Bet Shemesh, Israel. He served as Halakha editor of the Koren Sacks Siddur and also practices international tax law.


[1] Gittin 10b; Nedarim 28a; Bava Kama 113a-b; Bava Batra 54b-55a.
[2] Rambam, Gezela ve-Aveda 5:18.
[3] R. Eliezer of Metz, in Or Zarua, Bava Kama 447.
[4] Ibid.; Ran, Nedarim 28a, s.v be-mokhes.
[5] Bava Batra 55a.
[6] Rambam, Gezela ve-Aveda 5:11. But see Terumat ha-Deshen, No. 341.
[7] Sefer Mitzvot Gadol, Esin, 73.
[8] Arukh ha-Shulhan, Hoshen Mishpat 128:6.
[9] Mishneh Halakhot, Mahadura Tinyana, Vol. 2, no. 445.
[10] Bava Kama 113a-b.

 

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Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the founder, publisher and editor-in-chief of Torah Musings.

 
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64 Responses

  1. s(b.) says:

    Yasher koach; thank you.

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Gil Student. Gil Student said: Cheating the Government: Guest post by Rabbi Eli D. Clark Does Halakha permit one to cheat the U.S. government? Th… http://bit.ly/csYIRd [...]

  3. Ariel Segal says:

    Sobering yet excellent piece. I learned Chumash with Rabbi Clark and he helped mekarev me. We should merit to be glatt yosher, in the words of Rav Breuer ZTL.

  4. Charlie Hall says:

    “This rationale also underlies the view that in Eretz Yisrael, where the land belongs to all of the people, the principle of dina de-malkhuta does not apply.”

    So it is mutar to cheat the government of Israel?

  5. Charlie Hall says:

    “the authority of the government derives from its ownership of the territory of the state”

    By this argument, it would be mutar to cheat any modern democratic government, since every such modern state has endorsed freehold land ownership.

  6. Charlie Hall says:

    “Apparently motivated by a desire to support Torah study, frum Jews and Torah institutions have engaged in dishonesty on a wide scale. ”

    It works! I personally know a Jew who learned for years in the Otisville Kollel after deliberately not paying federal income taxes.

  7. Yirmeyahu says:

    Rav Elyashiv shlita prohibits evading taxes even for the sake of making aliya, even if one will never be able to do so otherwise:

    http://machzikeihadas.blogspot.com/2008/12/dina-dmalchusa.html

  8. mor says:

    http://www.torahweb.org/torah/special/2005/rsch_taxes.html

    According to Rav Schachter and many other poskim, not paying taxes in our days – when the metzius is that the government provides services – is stealing from everyone else living in the country, including Jews it seems.
    R. Clark’s point is well taken, but I would be more chutzpadik and express shock at the fact that so many Torah institutions have embraced a very lenient daas yachid to begin with.

  9. Ari Enkin says:

    Are we sure that those in Israel who cheat the government are basing themselves on Rav Klein? I think they cheat the government for other “considerations”. I say this because hafkaat halvato is not applicable to a Jew, even a non-relgious one. So too, one must perform hashavas aveida when finding such a Jew’s lost object and it is not permitted to “turn a blind eye” as is permissible according to some, when finding the lost item of a Gentile.

    Ari Enkin

  10. mor says:

    Isn’t he talking about Americans living in Israel cheating the U.S. government?

  11. Ari Enkin says:

    Right, but I was addressing the disregard for DDD and paying taxes in Israel. I thought R’ Eli is suggesting that Rav Klein’s opinion is used in that case, as well.

    Ari Enkin

  12. Nachum says:

    That $1,000 credit has created quite the cottage industry in Israel. More than the question of not working, lots of the kids who qualify for it aren’t really American citizens. But there are ways to get around such niggling details, and boy are they practiced.

    On a moral level, if not a dictionary one, how can one receive a “credit” when taxes (and Social Security) are not paid at all the US government in the first place?

  13. David Tzohar says:

    R’Clark-Thank you for the learned halachic survey. You said it all in the last paragraph. Pshitta, cheating is dishonest and can be learned simply from Midvar sheker tirchak. Cheating by avreichim,kal vachomer by Rabbanim is chillul Hashem. To our great shame there are many who also have the sin of kfiyut tova when they accept a stipend from the government and then spit on anything that has to do with “medinat hakofrim” It is written in the end of masechet Sanhedrin that at the time of the Geulah haemet ne’ederet. By that standard we don’t have long to wait. But challila that I should be a kategor on all of Am Yisrael. Look at the hundreds, perhaps today even more who learn in Yeshivot Hesder and Kollelim in the Negev, Gallil, Yehudah Shomron and mixed cities such as Lod, Ramleh,Acco. There you will find not chillul Hashem but rather Kiddush Hashem,ha’am vehaaretz.

  14. MJ says:

    I can’t believe that American kollelniks living in Israel are collecting big tax credits. I thought I would have to move to Israel before my tax dollars went to support the corrupted hareidi lifestyle. I guess I still have the dysfunctional special interest parliamentary politics; weekly hareidi riots and lack lack of civil society to look forward to.

  15. joel rich says:

    R”DT- right on.

    It’s great to hear from R’ Eli, we miss his contributions but know that he made the right decision.

    My general take (which I have caught flack on) is that on a pure micro-halachic basis there would be no real discussion that the answer is no. We could then discuss why or how one might cobble together a snif lhakeel not for purposes of horaah. The meta-narrative of the shoel/posek then comes into play…. enough said I think.

    KT

  16. > This rationale also underlies the view that in Eretz Yisrael,
    > where the land belongs to all of the people, the principle of
    > dina de-malkhuta does not apply.”
    >
    > Hirhurim

    >> So it is mutar to cheat the government of Israel?
    >> Charlie Hall

    No. Rather, it’s not cheating in the first place! RambaM in Hilkhot Gezeila (see footnote 2 in the blog post) says that taxes must be paid only when there is consent-of-the-governed. (According to RambaM, consent is demonstrated when you use the currency made by the government.) If one withdraws his consent, then his non-payment of taxes is not cheating in the first place. Something cannot be mutar or assur if you’re not “doing” anything in the first place!!

    > the authority of the government derives from its ownership of the
    > territory of the state

    >> By this argument, it would be mutar to cheat any modern
    >> democratic government, since every such modern state has
    >> endorsed freehold land ownership.

    Indeed. According to Samuel Adams’s “The Rights of the Colonists” (http://history.hanover.edu/texts/adamss.html), “All men have a right to remain in a state of nature as long as they please; and in case of intolerable oppression, civil or religious, to leave the society they belong to, and enter into another.” I.e., all men have the right to withdraw from the civil government and create a new government in its place when they so desire.

    Furthermore, Adams declares that, “The supreme power cannot justly take from any man any part of his property, without his consent in person or by his representative.” No, NOT the majority of his representatives in legislature, and certainly not his representative’s victorious opponent in the elections. If I voted for A, then only A can approve of taxes for me; not A’s colleagues in legislature, and not B if B won the election over A. No, only A himself can approve of taxes for me, says Adams. Like Rabbi Shlomo Goren, Adams considers the government to be a שליח, and as such, it has only those powers which every individual man has granted it.

  17. I would say, however, that a tremendous moral gulf separates those who “cheat” on their taxes due to legitimate withdrawal of consent-to-be-governed and based on legitimate and authoritative libertarian political theory (I say “authoritative” based on its standing among colonial Americans), and those who cheat on their taxes due to a belief that as Jews, they are superior to a non-Jewish government and can steal. For the racist, stealing from the gentile government is alright, but for the libertarian, Jews and gentiles are both precious in G-d’s eyes (Sforno on Ex. 19:5-6) and it is only that they feel the government has no claim in the first place, and so no theft is being committed in the first place.

  18. Mareh Makom says:

    For an in depth and very sharp piece on this topic, see Ohr Yisroel of Tishrei 5770 and the piece by Rabbi Chaim Rapaport

  19. anon says:

    David Tzohar: “Kiddush Hashem,ha’am vehaaretz”

    Once again you refer to that trinity.

  20. Holy Hyrax says:

    >Even R. Menashe Klein prohibits cheating the government where it results in a hillul Hashem.

    Not because its intrinsically wrong, but because we might get caught and cause a chillul hashem.

  21. Confused Hirhurim Reader says:

    Is the “Weekly Links” feature no longer?

  22. STBO says:

    >“No. Rather, it’s not cheating in the first place! RambaM in Hilkhot Gezeila (see footnote 2 in the blog post) says that taxes must be paid only when there is consent-of-the-governed. (According to RambaM, consent is demonstrated when you use the currency made by the government.) If one withdraws his consent, then his non-payment of taxes is not cheating in the first place. Something cannot be mutar or assur if you’re not “doing” anything in the first place!!”

    In that case the discussion is almost entirely moot. Most of those who withhold taxes or other dues from the Israeli government continue to utilize Israeli currency and benefit from Israeli government-provided goods including defense, security and municipal services. In other words they’re benefiting from government services while attempting to avoid paying for the services.

    Their case would be stronger if they (a la Neturai Karta in Meah Shearim) produced an alternative medium of exchange to replace government-issued currency so as to signify their non-consent. Virtually no tax evaders have done that.

  23. mor says:

    Right. R. Goren’s reasoning might apply if you were living out in the wild somewhere like the unabomber. Otherwise, I don’t see how you can get around R. Schachter’s shutfim view.

  24. joel rich says:

    confused-it’s on the right hand margin
    KT

  25. Elliot Pasik says:

    Some rabbis say that DDD applies only to laws that are enforced by the government, not all laws on the books. Illegally renting your converted basement and not declaring the income, employing an undocumented worker and not deducting taxes, and avoiding sales tax by paying cash on small transactions are some examples that come to mind.

    Many government workers themselves, in their private lives, are involved in such matters.

    What does Rabbi Clark say about this?

  26. Charlie Hall says:

    ‘On a moral level, if not a dictionary one, how can one receive a “credit” when taxes (and Social Security) are not paid at all the US government in the first place?’

    It is a form of negative income tax that used to be popular with conservative politicians and economists. In the US the big proponents were Richard Nixon and Milton Friedman.

  27. Charlie Hall says:

    “Their case would be stronger if they (a la Neturai Karta in Meah Shearim) produced an alternative medium of exchange to replace government-issued currency so as to signify their non-consent. Virtually no tax evaders have done that.”

    They would also have to go totally “off the grid” and for Israel these folks would have to move to Gaza or some other place where there is no protection offered by the IDF. I wonder what Hamas does to tax evaders.

  28. Charlie Hall says:

    “The supreme power cannot justly take from any man any part of his property, without his consent in person or by his representative.”

    That statement is the basis for no society today; every country provides for public seizure of private property through something like eminent domain. The Torah’s rules actually offer less protection here than does the US Constitution; hefker beit din hefker does not require compensation.

  29. Nachum says:

    Charlie, even the negative income tax etc. is meant for people who *live* in the country- I can’t say I’m a big fan of the idea, but I suppose the idea is that they’ll then spend the money, help the economy, etc. And, of course, they’re paying sales taxes and so on.

    By the way, Friedman was a libertarian, not a conservative, who also invented withholding, and Nixon wasn’t much of a conservative either. Party doesn’t determine these things, and people aren’t bound to some idea just because it came from their “side.”

    It should be pointed out that charedim are hardly the only people who use this shtick.

  30. mycroft says:

    “By the way, Friedman was a libertarian, not a conservative, who also invented withholding”

    Withholding in the US income tax context started during WW 11.

    “Charlie, even the negative income tax etc. is meant for people who *live* in the country”

    The US tax system is a world wide one taxing income from world wide sources-most tax systems are territorial. On a practical matter the foreign tax credit is the mechanism to avoid double taxation.

  31. mycroft says:

    “Some rabbis say that DDD applies only to laws that are enforced by the government,”
    Income taxes are enforced if the government knows about the action-see eg leave out a small amount of interest income from a bank etc where ther is information to check-that is easily enforced. There are areas where enforcement is much more difficult.

    not all laws on the books. …, and avoiding sales tax by paying cash on small transactions are some examples that come to mind-the seller must pay the sales tax-he can quote the price either way but the percentage of sales must be paid over. Engaging in cheating obviously occurs-but they are not legal-the same way that the government doesn’t catch all sexual predators giving an example that Mr. Pasik has been very active in-the government does not catch by a longshot all tax evaders. But anyone who is openly and notoriously thumbing their nose at the system can get into big trouble see those who get prosecuted in this area.
    DMD would mean nothing if one is only liable when the government would catch the violatar anyway..

  32. Nachum says:

    Yes, Mycroft, that’s when Friedman invented it. :-)

    People who live outside the US do not pay taxes; nor do they (directly) contribute to the US economy.

  33. Alex Hamilton says:

    Surprised to see the famous Ran quoted here and it’s implication that DDD doesn’t apply in Israel – R’ Shechter:
    “The truth of the matter is that not only has this view not been accepted in Shulchan Aruch, it didn’t even gain honorable mention. The Shulchan Aruch quotes verbatim from the Rambam that one is obligated to pay taxes both in Eretz Yisroel as well as in other countries. “

  34. Alex Hamilton says:

    R’Dessler’s famous idea of Daas Torah – that we all have negias which affect our intelectual judgement and push up towards making certain decisions, therefore only the purest of heart who emerse themselves in Torah are pure of thought and clean of negias can be trusted.

    Maybe this idea can explain what has happened here – roshei yeshiva live a life where only torah matters – they like us also have a negia – although theres is for Torah it still clouds their judgement. (Haraya: There are many issues where ‘poskim’ and ‘roshei yeshiva’ disagree e.g. in general poskim like boys to get married earlier, but roshei yeshiva prefer them to learn for 5,6 years first.)

    ‘Daas torah’ creates a skewed approach, we need ‘daas taryag mitzvos’.

  35. Eli D Clark says:

    My thanks for the thoughtful comments. An argument favoring dealing honestly with a secular government rests I think on one of three grounds: halakhic, moral or pragmatic. The goal of my post was to examine the halakhic argument against such honesty as expressed by R. Menashe Klein. Some responses to specific comments:

    >Rambam’s “consent of the governed” requirement is a collective one; if an individual withdraws his consent, he would not be free of DDD.

    >DDD does not merely require obedience to secular law; it means that a violation of secular law is also a violation of Halakha.

    >Non-enforcement of a certain law would render its violation mutar, but only if the government adopts a conscious policy not to enforce (e.g. not ticketing people who exceed the speed limit by 1-5 mph), not if the government simply lacks the resources to catch every violation (e.g. tax evasion).

    >Only the US (and, I’m told, the Philippines) taxes citizens who live abroad on worldwide income.

  36. Y. Aharon says:

    Rav Asher Weiss has a much more extensive treatment of ‘dina demalchusa’ that was posted recently than this contribution from R’ Eli Clark. Moreover, why the emphasis on the views of R’ Menashe Klein on this subject? He doesn’t find fault with cheating Gentiles either. In general, I find the idea that ‘dina demalchusa’ applies only to land matters and is based on governmental land ownership to be puzzling. The more simple understanding is that ‘dina demalchusa’ refers to the body having generally accepted authority in the land. That authority is exercised over all matters not in direct conflict with religious beliefs or clearly discriminatory, unjust, and oppressive. The idea that ‘dina demalchusa’ doesn’t apply in Israel since the land is allegedly not owned by the government is even more puzzling. The biblically mandated apportionment of the land to the people is not in effect and hasn’t been for over 2500 years. No one today possess ancestral land. In fact, land, to my knowledge, isn’t typically owned by the individual. He merely has a 99 year lease from the government.

  37. Zman Biur says:

    I fail to see where R’ Clark makes a halachic case that a resident of Israel is forbidden from cheating the U.S. government. Dina d’malchuta dina presumably only applies to someone under the jurisdiction of the government in question. What halachic authority does the U.S. government have over a resident of Israel, whether or not he is a U.S. citizen? (For that matter, the moral claim to authority is sufficiently questionable.)

  38. Charlie Hall says:

    Nachum,

    US Citizens and permanent residents have to pay taxes no matter where they live. There are certain credits and exemptions that may make the tax low or even zero in some circumstances, but the basic principle still stands.

  39. Charlie Hall says:

    Zman Biur,

    Unless someone has renounced his US Citizenship, he still remains liable to all US laws including taxes. For example, a US-Canada dual citizen can’t legally travel to Cuba without permission even if he/she has never lived in the US. Anyone who doesn’t like that can go to any US Consulate and renounce his citizenship; almost nobody does.

  40. Zman Biur says:

    Charlie,

    You’re talking about US law, not halacha. Just because the US considers you to be subject to its laws doesn’t mean halacha does.

  41. Anon says:

    As an accountant, I’m not sure how one would go about carrying out the addition child tax credit fraud as described. If you report Israeli income from which FICA was not paid, you should have to pay SECA (unless paying bituach leumi exempts you? Maybe that’s covered by a treaty.) That should cancel out the benefit of child tax credit. It’s noteworthy that foreign earned income is ineligible for the earned income credit.

    What I thought people did was give their children’s tax ID’s to relatives in the US for use for the dependancy exemptions and child tax credit (which assumes they don’t make too much). The relatives would then give them the benefit. This too may in many cases be fraud, but would not involve income concealment. BTW any kollel member in Israel who receives financial support from American relatives should consider legal ways to arrange such relationships.

  42. Charlie Hall says:

    Zman Biur,

    I think that this post proves that if the US considers you subject to its tax laws, halachah does, too.

  43. Zman Biur says:

    Where does the post prove it? If the Principality of Grand Fenwick considers you subject to its tax laws, does halacha recognize that too?

    Dina d’malchuta dina applies where you are in the malchut, subject to its sovereignty. I can’t imagine how it could possibly apply otherwise. None of the conventional rationales for it apply to someone outside the jurisdiction of the government in question. And Eli Clark hasn’t demonstrated it either, or even attempted to. No halachic reasoning has been applied to that question here, nor has any precedent has been brought.

    You don’t need a daas yachid to circumvent a chiyuv that no one holds exists in the first place.

    I’m used to more substantive content from this site.

  44. Eli D Clark says:

    Anon:

    SECA is due if the US citizen is self-employed. FICA is due if the US citizen is employed by a US employer. But if the US citizen is an employee of a foreign employer, no US employment taxes are due. Foreign earned income is eligible for the child tax credit.

    Zman Biur:

    I am afraid you are arguing with a straw man. I never claimed that DDD means Israelis need to follow US law. If a Jew lies to the US government in order to extract cash, that is gezel, no matter where the Jew lives. Is that substantive enough for you?

    R. Menashe Klein was not talking about Israelis specifically. His opinion is useful, though, because he disregards DDD and focuses on the issue of gezel ha-goy. His heter is based on (a) the argument that tax evasion is hafka’at halva’ato and (b) the condition that there is no hillul Hashem. In the child tax credit case, money is being extracted from the government, so it is not hafka’at halva’ato. And the fact that Israeli yeshivot are assumed to being fabricating employment statements indicates to me that a hillul Hashem is being caused.

  45. mor says:

    According to poskim like Rav Schachter and others, receiving 1000 dollar handouts from the U.S. government on a false premise would be poshut stealing from goyim and other Jews who are paying taxes to the u.s. government. Last time I checked, there are clear psukim that don’t seem to be in favor of stealing. It has nothing to do with dina dimalchusa.
    And even according to R. Klein who does not seem to see this as poshut stealing, since there is certainly a chillul Hashem it would sill be assur. That is because, unfortunately, the average goyish IRS agent would probably not be able to follow your scintillating logic.

  46. mor says:

    that was a response to zman biur

  47. mor says:

    Oh, I see. Really those kollelniks could not rely on R. Klein even if there wasn’t a chillul Hashem, since they are getting handouts. His opinion only applies to avoiding tax demands of the government.

  48. Elliot Pasik says:

    Rabbi Clark: “Non-enforcement of a certain law would render its violation mutar, but only if the government adopts a conscious policy not to enforce (e.g. not ticketing people who exceed the speed limit by 1-5 mph), not if the government simply lacks the resources to catch every violation (e.g. tax evasion).”

    Interesting distinction. In our democracy, local, state and federal governments come and go. There is an ebb and flow to law enforcement. We need to keep our ears close to the ground.

  49. mor says:

    so the limud zchus that they are following r. klein and just dont recognize the metzius is just a front…

  50. mycroft says:

    “Nachum on July 13, 2010 at 6:31 am
    Yes, Mycroft, that’s when Friedman invented it. :-)”

    The withholding for Americans on US wages started during WW11-but the concept of withholding at the source-not only goes back to 1913-for payments to foreigners-but it existed during the Civil War Income tax. Some Englshmen challenged the tax on dividends from Railroad bonds stating they were never in the country. But the Supremes if I remeber correctly in a 5-4 decison ruled in an in rem analysis that the US could withhold at the source for payments made outside the US. Thus not exactly a new concept.

    “People who live outside the US do not pay taxes; nor do they (directly) contribute to the US economy”

    Nachum-I don’t know if you intend to keep a US passport-but I believe a requirement to renew from abroad is proof of showing that one is up to date in their income tax filings. Paying taxes in a US context does not depend on receiving benefits-it is an obligation of citizenship and BTW one who has agreen card even not a citizen is required to pay taxes on their world wide income even if they reside outside the United States. One has to give up ones green card to leave US income tax jurisdiction.

  51. mycroft says:

    “Rabbi Clark: “Non-enforcement of a certain law would render its violation mutar, but only if the government adopts a conscious policy not to enforce (e.g. not ticketing people who exceed the speed limit by 1-5 mph), not if the government simply lacks the resources to catch every violation (e.g. tax evasion).”

    Interesting distinction. In our democracy, local, state and federal governments come and go. There is an ebb and flow to law enforcement. We need to keep our ears close to the ground”

    From a moral standpoint one can argue a law that is not enforced is not a law-but that is clearly not the case for lack of enforcement. My test is-would the government enforce the law if they were notified by a full page advertisement in the NYTimes. Clearly tax evasion would be prosecuted if the offender openly and notoriously did the action-thus from a halachik matter it is clearly assur. Keeping ones ear to the ground is relevant if one wants to make their considerations based on gain versus likelihood of being caught-the mindset of a criminal not one of a moral ben Torah.

  52. mycroft says:

    “By the way, Friedman was a libertarian, not a conservative, who also invented withholding”

    Nachum:
    Read for a history of US income tax and a large section about withholding.

    http://www.cato.org/pubs/journal/cj14n3-1.html

  53. mor says:

    I think that Alex Hamilton is making an important point and I would like to add that it reminds me of the reason that gamblers are passul for eydus…Not to say that these people are passul for edydus ch”v. But it is basically a shemetz of the same problem.

  54. Zman Biur says:

    Eli,

    You opened your post with two paragraphs about dina d’malchuta dina and the legitimacy of the government in collecting taxes. Why, if that isn’t the basis of your conclusion? Especially as your conclusion is not about evading taxes, but about claiming undeserved benefits.

    Likewise, R’ Klein’s ruling is irrelevant, as claiming undeserved benefits is not the same as avoiding paying taxes.

    I agree that claiming undeserved benefits is theft and possibly hillul hashem, regardless of dina d’malchuta. But what does that have to do with the first three paragraphs of your post?

  55. mycroft says:

    “Likewise, R’ Klein’s ruling is irrelevant, as claiming undeserved benefits is not the same as avoiding paying taxes.”

    Whats the difference? Both are cheating and stealing from the government. Might be easier to prove intent in claiming undeserved benefits-but what is the halachik difference?
    Also-there are refundable credits in the US tax system-eg Earned Income Credit-what is the difference between filing a false income tax return to receive that money incorrectly-or filing a false grant application to steal government money.

  56. Charlie Hall says:

    Ronald Reagan had opposed income tax withholding for California income taxes before he became governor, saying his position on the manner was “Cast in concrete”. As governor, he reversed himself, saying, ‘The sound you hear is the concrete cracking around my feet.’

  57. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    speeding 1-5 mph would be “mutar” visa a vis DDD.

    what about the selective enforcement if an officer wants to ticket you anyway (anti semitism — the usual excuse?)

    ditto minor tax evasion — such as failure to file / pay “use tax”.

    alex hamilton (i take out my $10 bill as i say this) would prob be “pasul le’edut” as a dueler. (though his father took him to the local sfardi “cheder” in jamaica when he was young. he may have been illegitimate, but his father wasnt stupid. he wanted him a good education.) (no, he’s not jewish; he just went to “yeshiba”)

  58. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    Charlie Hall on July 13, 2010 at 12:53 am

    “Their case would be stronger if they (a la Neturai Karta in Meah Shearim) produced an alternative medium of exchange to replace government-issued currency so as to signify their non-consent. Virtually no tax evaders have done that.”

    They would also have to go totally “off the grid” and for Israel these folks would have to move to Gaza or some other place where there is no protection offered by the IDF. I wonder what Hamas does to tax evaders.
    ……

    actually, they use an alternate currency — its called the us dollar.

    2. simple solution to get irs recognition of “kollel payments” — withhold taxes on the kollel check. question — are kollel payments in the us w2 income (and witheld from) or is it 1099 income (which allude to questionable independent contractor status often inviting an audit?) same rule would apply to israeli kollel payments.

  59. Elliot Pasik says:

    Mycroft: “Keeping ones ear to the ground is relevant if one wants to make their considerations based on gain versus likelihood of being caught-the mindset of a criminal not one of a moral ben Torah.”

    According to this view, I’m a criminal, but with many friends.

    Jews who parse the fine points of halacha and the law are sometimes called criminals. It is a traditional, Christian, anti-Semitic canard. Jews are busy studying and practicing the 613 mitzvos, while Christian theology can be summed up as, Peace on earth, good will towards men.

    Depending upon the local, municipal administration, zoning and building code violations are, sometimes, consciously not enforced. Ideology and politics play a part. The halachic man does need to pay attention to goings-on at City Hall. Otherwise, he will soon be greeting people with, Merry Christmas.

  60. mycroft says:

    “ditto minor tax evasion — such as failure to file / pay “use tax”

    NYS has added a line to its individual income tax returns for use tax-they give an assumed amount based on your income. One if they have better records can claim something else.
    Note major use tax is enforced when they have the opportunity wee eg registering an auto purchased out of state.

  61. mycroft says:

    ““Keeping ones ear to the ground is relevant if one wants to make their considerations based on gain versus likelihood of being caught-the mindset of a criminal not one of a moral ben Torah.”

    According to this view, I’m a criminal, but with many friends.”

    The law requires obedience-not a calculation of probabilities of what one can get away with. Of course, one can guess wrong as Rubashkin and many others have and pay a great price for it.
    I will just note that GAAP-Generally Accepted Accounting Principles when it comes to accruing for income tax expense does not permit taking into consideration-odds of being audited and/or government employee finding the issue-it requires starting with the assumption that the Government would know about the issue and then what odds the client would have off succeeding.
    Simialrly, when probabilities of success help determine if certain penalties are applicable-it requires ignoring the possibility/probability that the government would not find out about the issue

    “Jews who parse the fine points of halacha and the law are sometimes called criminals.”

    As Justice Holmes wrote close to acentury ago there is no duty to pay more taxes than one is legally obligated to-but as you are aware it is not ethical to advise one to disobey the law based on probabilities of being caught.

    “It is a traditional, Christian, anti-Semitic canard. Jews are busy studying and practicing the 613 mitzvos, while Christian theology can be summed up as, Peace on earth, good will towards men.”
    Christians have their canon law to study also. But sadly, if there is an opinion apparently given openly that one can violate the law and cheat the government if one believes that the likelihood of being caught determines ones behavior-I hope I am misinterpreting the comment.

  62. [...] who asked: Yes, I do mean these questions for comment/discussion. In an excellent recent post (link), R’Eli Clark makes the following tantalizing statement, “Even R. Menashe Klein prohibits [...]

  63. Steve Brizel says:

    The above article is fascinating reading. WADR, R Menashe Klein’s Piskei Halacha seem contradictory and could conceivably lead to the first cited Teshuvah being followed, and the second cited Teshuvah being ignored in practice. I highly reccomend R Chaim Rappaport’s article and RHS’s drasha given for the OU at the Jewish Center for understanding the halachic and hashkafic consequences of failing to adhere to DDD.

  64. mycroft says:

    For a fascinating discussion of traffic laws and DDD and other issues chas vshalom if someone kills someone in an accident while violating traffic laws see this weeks Shabbat Bshabbato.

 
 

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