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Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Less is More Project: Week 39 - Is it your duty to pay income tax?

MTSOfan, Flickr

Last blog post of the "Is it your duty" trilogy!

A friend was recently ranting about the fact that those who actively choose to work less than they are capable of (e.g. part-time when they could do full-time), consequently earn less money than they could, and in turn pay less income tax than they could, are depriving their fellow citizen from fiscal contributions. If those same "slackers" continue to use income-tax funded services and infrastructures, such as roads, schools, libraries, and health care (especially in countries where it's free, such as Canada), then according to my friend they can be viewed as freeloaders.

So let's say you are perfectly capable of working full-time at a reasonable income, but instead decide to stay on the "slow track" by:

  • working part-time
  • refusing promotions
  • working at a job that is not related to your training, and pays less
  • being a homemaker
  • retiring early
  • trading services instead of exchanging money for them (e.g. your neighbor gives your kids piano lessons for free, and in exchange, you tutor her kids for free)

... are you depriving society of something? Not only of the taxes you could pay, but also of your full professional potential?

Past my initial astonishment, I got thinking: are "slow-trackers" causing wrong to hard workers? Instantly, however, I could think of many ways people who work less are benefiting society. They can contribute by:

  • allowing more people to work by sharing the workload instead of taking a full week's work on their sole shoulders
  • volunteering (because they have more time for it)
  • looking out for family members, friends and neighbors, especially those who need it the most, such as children, seniors and individuals with mental or physical health issues (which then cuts on certain "society costs")
  • being an involved activist
  • maintaining and facilitating harmonious relationships
  • contributing to sustainable neighborhoods
  • polluting less (by driving less, spending less on work clothes and generally buying less stuff, etc.)
  • being healthier (from exercising more, taking the time to cook good meals, and experiencing less stress), which in turn means they don't use as much health care as their workaholic counterparts
  • being more relaxed, which in turn means they are more pleasant to be around (a friend of mine whose wife works very long hours says of her that she is often cranky - but I won't name names!) I know that when I work less, I am less impatient with my family members, who in turn are more pleasant to other people, who in turn... and the wheel keeps on turning.

Now, those contributions are not easy to quantify. But I do believe they can make up for the lower fiscal input.

And honestly, if we are going to look at income the tax money that is lost, we should probably start by focusing on fiscal evasion and corruption... don't you think?

What is your take on this controversial topic?


Eating less sugar still hasn't made me cranky or hungry. In fact, I might feel less hungry than I used to, probably due to the fact that my blood sugar levels are more stable. The only thing I feel more than I used to is fatigue: I tend to eat sweets when I get tired, but when this is not an option, I end up going to bed earlier. Which is not a bad thing in itself! 

Your turn to share about your struggles and victories of the week! What did you resist? Did you donate or get rid of anything? Did you face any challenge? Please comment below! And...

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  1. As you rightly said, taxes may be unavoidable, but they are far from being the only way to contribute. Your friend's comment gives me shivers.

    1. I have so many examples of ways people who "work less" contribute that I wouldn't even know where to start! :-)

  2. I am now a 'slacker' who works part time...but as I am less stressed I hardly ever get ill any more, which means I don't need to go to the doctors and get antibiotics for chest infections any more...thus saving the taxpayer money.
    If I did my job full time, there wouldn't be a job for one of my colleagues- we all work part time.

  3. Hmmm... well, IMHO this one is right up there with the absurd argument that it's somehow irresponsible not to have a pile of kids because retirement benefits for the current generation are generally funded by the next generation... never mind the fact that the child-free pay a LOT of taxes to fund other people's children. Or the idea that bicyclists are somehow freeloaders because they don't pay specific taxes to fund bike lanes & infrastructure... never mind the fact that most highway funding comes from the federal government, not from gas taxes & vehicle registrations, and that every person on a bike rather than in a car saves wear and tear on the roads, yadda, yadda, yadda.

    Personally, I think these sorts of arguments are just people sour graping (can you use that as a verb?) Like it's somehow unfair that these people have the audacity to buck the system and feel they somehow have a right to enjoy their lives rather than being caught in the rat race that the majority assumes is unavoidable.

    1. Well, you just listed a bunch of good arguments I didn't even consider when writing this! :-) Thank you for adding to the discussion.

      It's funny, I always thought big families were a problem because of their environmental footprint. I guess you can look at something from different angles!

  4. WOW. Ive never realy even considered this as Im such a rule follower :-)
    I was the personal trainer who would NOT NOT NOT get paid in cash and skip claiming it :-)

    1. Interesting! And while you and I pay our taxes, some big corporations somehow escape it.

  5. I saw a story yesterday about a short Internet video series called, "Love Gov." Look at it if you wish. Because of that, my reaction to your friend is he is confusing contributions to society with contributions to the government. Hopefully as you wrote, most of out contributions are to our fellow humans and not to the Government.

    Also, looking back at your trilogy, I wondered about "Is it your duty to have children," as an addendum.

    1. I will look it up!

      And the "duty to have children" would be a good add-on to the trilogy!

    2. I work full time as a bus driver which really is a part time job since most in-between bus runs are for taking care of my parents. I could, like some find, a second paying job which could help pay for someone elses insurance and if I did that than I could hire someone to take care of my parents since I couldn't because I was working but that is just so wrong. We as a family of 3 already pay $1700.00 a month insurance for just major medical where my bus driving job pays for many to have full coverage insurance. I think I am contributing enough to my fellow man/woman by doing what I am.
      Just my 2 cents worth.
      Have a blessed day!

  6. Thank you for this post.

    I am one of those "Freeloaders" who stays at home and tends to the garden, animals, and household business. My husband has never paid a bill, done his own laundry, or cleaned the house. I also volunteer a lot through my local running club and community band.

    It's funny how all that doesn't seem to matter to others if I'm not actually drawing a paycheck. It's really annoying and upsetting when I meet someone new and they look at me like a freeloader when they find out I don't work outside our home (especially when they find we don't *gasp* have kids).

  7. I completely believe that we have a duty to pay tax but I don't believe we have a duty to pay more than is legally required of us.
    A huge number of people with reduced earnings contribute in ways that are a little harder to quantify. When well off people or big corporations evade taxes, that is what I don't like.