Is Paying Less Taxes Unpatriotic?

There are some people who might question the patriotism of those who would try to arrange their affairs to pay a lower amount of taxes. But how much truth is there in that?

Is it unpatriotic to want to work within the limits of the law to reduce the amount of taxes you pay?

Everyone will have their own opinion about this, and we welcome you to join the conversation by leaving a comment. To begin the discussion we give you the opinions of two distinguished American jurists:

"Anyone may arrange his affairs so that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which best pays the treasury. There is not even a patriotic duty to increase one’s taxes. Over and over again the Courts have said that there is nothing sinister in so arranging affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everyone does it, rich and poor alike and all do right, for nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands: Taxes are enforced exactions, not voluntary contributions. To demand more in the name of morals is mere cant."

— Honorable Learned Hand, U.S. Appeals Court Judge, Helvering v. Gregory, 69 F.2d 809 (1934).

"I live in Alexandria, Virginia. Near the Supreme Court chamber is a toll bridge across the Potomac. When in a rush I pay the dollar toll and get home early. However, I usually drive a free bridge outside the down- town section of the city, and cross the Potomac on a free bridge. The bridge was placed outside the downtown Washington D.C. area to serve a useful social service: getting drivers to drive the extra mile to help alleviate congestion during rush hour. If I went over the toll bridge and through the barrier without paying the toll, I would be committing tax evasion. If, however, I drive the extra mile and drive outside the city of Washington, I am using a legitimate, logical and suitable method of tax avoidance, and I am performing a useful social service by doing so. For my tax evasion, I should be punished. For my tax avoidance, I should be commended. The tragedy of life today is that so few people know that the free bridge even exists."

— U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis