May 11, 2008

Interesting Psak: paying your taxes

In light of the recent allegations against the Prime Minister regarding money laundering, tax fraud and evasion and bribery, the issue of whether one is obligated, halachically, to pay taxes to the country/state has been raised.

As an introduction I would mention that, generally, people who do not want to pay taxes (and who does) will say that the country they are living in - there is no halachic obligation to pay taxes. But in the other country, for sure.

For example, if someone lives in the US and is not paying taxes, he will justify it by saying that in the US the government is goyim so there is no obligation to pay, but in Israel for sure they have to pay.
And if that someone is living in Israel, they will say in Israel there is no obligation because the government has no legitimacy (for a variety of reasons), but in the US, for sure they have to pay.

So nobody wants to pay taxes, and people who know how to avoid it will always justify it by saying that where they live there is no halachic obligation.

So, both Rav Elyashiv and Rav Kanievsky were recently asked, again, as to their respective opinions on the obligation of paying taxes.

Rav Kaniensky supposedly responded that one is obligated to pay taxes. His logic was sourced in a halacha (I think quoted from the Rambam) that says not to withhold paying taxes, lest the government come and take everything from you. In other words, according to this opinion, it is a matter of risk - he suggests paying taxes because you might get caught and that would be worse.

Rav Elyashiv responded differently. Rav Elyashiv also said that one is obligated to pay taxes to the State.His logic was idfferent. Rav Elyashiv said the reason is because to withhold taxes is stealing from the State and is completely prohibited.

17 comments:

  1. All men are geniuses at rationalization - Freud.

    Let man dpalig that dina dmalchuta covers non-discriminatory taxes outside of israel. If one wants to argue that the state of israel is not a jewish government, it would seem the same rule would apply in israel. if not, then it would seem to be at least a partnership where the majority rules and thus again taxes payable.

    KT
    Joel Rich

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's the people who avoid paying taxes, yet accept every benefit that the government chooses to provide them, that bug me the most.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Mordechai Y. ScherMay 11, 2008 7:14 PM

    The very question makes me very sad.

    The are times when simple yosher obviates the need for a question.

    There is a rav who I worked with years ago in the US. He was a great talmid hacham who was up and coming in what I think of as 'modern charedi' (Chofetz Chaim type) circles. He sorrowfully told me how he loved living in Israel, but the only way he was making a living was by working the 'grey economy' (sic). Not even 'black' under the table; but the shadow world of maybe legal maybe not. He said that he could live with a daily violation of yosher, so when asked he returned to the States for a position there.

    We all need that kind of yosher instead of looking for heterim. (Though I certainly do not advocate yerida to counteract all my efforts to get people to move to Israel.)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Please scan the teshuvos of RYSE and RCK so we can all see them.

    I am under the impression that the CI - and by extension RCK also - hold that there is no dina dimalchusa dina in EY, since the only law that holds water in EY is the Torah, and since this government is not based onthe Torah there is no need to listen to their rules.
    Moreover, who said what they do with their money is legit? They give money away for issurim. Doesnt some of your tax money go to churches, and to muslims? Thats not mutar. Doesnt some of your money go to paying for entertainment facilities - which could and often do involve issurim of gender mixing and worse. Hence many poskim say its a mitzvah to avoid payign taxes if you can.

    Oh and by the way, EVERYONE pays taxes here. Arnona is for everyone. VAT is for everyone. Only income taxes can be avoided by the age old custom of not making any money, which plenty of people here manage to do.

    And to all those self righteous individuals -- do any of your kids babysit? In america, this income must be declared. Do you know anyone who does ? No. Plenty of people pick up an extra laptop or camera or the like in america and sell it for 50 bucks profit. How many of those people pay taxes? .... right, i thought so. So if you want to be a full tax payer, lets declare everything.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh and by the way, EVERYONE pays taxes here. Arnona is for everyone.

    Unless you get a hanacha... which everyone in kollel certainly does (to say nothing of the fake kollelim...)

    VAT is for everyone.

    True. However, 15.5% of your purchases funds a relatively small amount of the national income (does anyone know exactly how much?) [and how many "cash" transactions are done in exchange for services?]

    Only income taxes can be avoided by the age old custom of not making any money, which plenty of people here manage to do.

    The best way to make a small fortune... is to start with a big one. That said, with enough under the table work and shady deductions, it's possible to make quite little while living nicely...

    And to all those self righteous individuals -- do any of your kids babysit? In america, this income must be declared.

    Depends on the amount earned. I personally filed a tax return every year since I turned 14.

    Plenty of people pick up an extra laptop or camera or the like in america and sell it for 50 bucks profit. How many of those people pay taxes? .... right, i thought so. So if you want to be a full tax payer, lets declare everything.

    Ok. I measured our purchases last trip to the States to stay within the limits of customs (since paying duty renders most savings moot). Where's my sticker... and my apology?

    Another sevara for _not_ paying taxes in EY is [IIRC, the Yam Shel Shlomo], who writes that the power of a government to collect taxes is based on their right to throw you off the land. Since in EY, everyone has a chelek, you can't be kicked out, and therefore the gov't can't expel you. I don't quite get this; according to this sevara, since I have no _particular_ chelek in, say, land parcel #123143, why can't a municipality tax me? For that matter, why can't the government, on the grounds that they could expel me to some empty area in the negev or something without denying me a right to live in EY?

    ReplyDelete
  6. anonymous - I do not have the tshua to quote. As far as I know, it was not a written tshuva. People approached them and asked the shailoh. I saw an article that mentioned it (If I can find the article, I will scan it, but chances are slim).

    BTW, you mentionm a level of daykanus almost nobody is careful of. Reb Yaakov zt"l was famous for that level. And if it was such a big thing that he did it, obviously that level of scrutiny is beyond the realm of most people (not really, but it is hard to word what I mean).

    mordechai - you are right, but the flip side of that is that people who truly believe in their justification hold that what they are doing is yosher, or even more important than yosher. The thing is that most people, like mother in israel said, who do that are just looking for ways to scam the system and save a little money. They are not doing it because they really believe it to be assur. the issur is just the justification.

    It is one thing for people who whenever possible avoid benefiting from state services. At least they are consistent. Don't get me wrong - they too should be paying taxes. But at least they are consistent in their ways as much as is possible. People who take advantage of the system and take what they can and then avoid paying taxes, are worse in this regards.

    And anonymous has a good point. Most people are salaried employees and do not have the option of withholding taxes. It is really just somebody running his own business, and maybe the few employees who have the option to work "black"

    ReplyDelete
  7. Mordechai Y. ScherMay 11, 2008 10:21 PM

    I meant to write 'he could NOT live with a daily violation of yosher'

    ReplyDelete
  8. Mike Miller - Kol HaKavod to you for your yashrus. How many others out there - that you know or anyone else knows - filed a tax return every year since they were 14 - and included babysitting money, tips, and the like. if youre 1 in 1000 Id be shocked, 1 in 10,000,000 is probably more like it if I had to guess. But Kol hakavod to you.

    15.5% might not be enough to cover the whole national budget - but its a definate start, and should cover most of the money the chareidim gets back, if not all of it. Keep in mind that its not jus tyeshiva students who get money, all students in universities get money. And they get more than the yeshivaleit.

    Arnona hanacha isnt a given, and those that get it get it only bc they dont have income. Were talking about families living off of $1200 a month. With kids. Seriously. there isnt much money here. They are not the ones sappign the govt. Sure you have some who are, but they are not the majority. What you read in the secular papers is bunk and by now you should realize that

    ReplyDelete
  9. 15.5% might not be enough to cover the whole national budget - but its a definate start, and should cover most of the money the chareidim gets back, if not all of it.

    Given that chareidim tend to be on the poor side of Israeli society, I think we can safely assume that they make, on average, no more than 8000NIS/month. That means that by definition, they're not paying mroe than 1240 in VAT. Do you _really_ think that this covers the services received (including such often neglected services as things like roads...)?

    Arnona hanacha isnt a given, and those that get it get it only bc they dont have income. Were talking about families living off of $1200 a month. With kids. Seriously. there isnt much money here.

    I know no one in Kollel who doesn't take a hanacha. Why not... if it's offered to me, I'd take it (and I did take my 90% when I first made Aliyah). That said, if you've seen the crowds (either at the Iriyah or at one of the chareidi parties' arnona hanacha help nights), I think you'd find it hard to disagree that an incredibly high percentage don't pay full price...


    They are not the ones sappign the govt. Sure you have some who are, but they are not the majority. What you read in the secular papers is bunk and by now you should realize that

    Just because kibbutzim and universities also take a lot of money doesn't make it right. I'd love to see a proper balance sheet showing the real numbers; no one seems to be able to provide any hard information. In that case, I'll take my own experience as the best I can get (I certainly won't deny that working under the table is common among all segments of Israeli society, but that's not really a justification...)

    ReplyDelete
  10. rafi:

    "mike s." left the following comment recently on "prfk":

    "Of course, anyone who has income not reported on his tax form is a gazlan who is unable to do t'shuvah, as he has stolen from the public."

    i noted that this is an interesting concept, to which he replied, "The "stole from the public" part is from "Iggrot Moshe", and the "therefore can't do t'shuvah" is the Rambam."

    ReplyDelete
  11. I'm confused by the initial logic- what does the corruption of the PM have to do with providing basic services to the public. Don't the charedim understand that taxes pay kitzbaot and pave their streets?

    Very, very sad.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Abbi - I was thinking one of two things:
    1. if the top govt officials are stealing all the money anyway, why should I have to pay.
    2. If the top reps of the government are taking money and not paying taxes on it, why should I have to.

    Of course the truth is that just because somebody else does something wrong does not mean I am allowed to as well, but that was the logic I assumed to be behind the questions.

    ReplyDelete
  13. how does this compare to the tax credit everyone seems to be applying for and getting from the us..when not paying taxes there necessarily..? the govt knows about it, and pays it. Accusing people of tkaing advantage of the system by not making money, therefore not paying taxes, therefore living off of welfare seems ridiculous. If the govt didnt want to provide welfare - it wouldn't exist. there is no law that you have to work for a living - though that is what most people would prefer for themselves. Are we just as angry at the poor in the US that live off of welfare? Does it matter if it is by choice? If you want to force people to work - change the laws.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Sbw,

    First of all, the US tax refund is not a cheat. It's part of the system. Second of all, I don't think you can get it if you have no declared income.

    ReplyDelete
  15. It's easy to avoid VAT if you do a lot more bartering, as well.

    ReplyDelete
  16. R: Mother in Israel. You should also add that these people who take handouts from the government and do not pay taxes are also the most anti-the government in the first place.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...