Thursday, July 14, 2016

They Say It Like It's a Bad Thing (and Throw in Fallacious Possessives, Too)


Photo: Wikipedia
Boris Johnson -- mayor of London until recently and now foreign secretary in Theresa May's new Tory UK government -- was born in the United States and lived here until he was five years old.

Per the Washington Post, according to the US government, this means that he owes it money.
The United States is one of the only countries in the world that taxes the income of its citizens no matter where they live — and Johnson owed a hefty bill.

In his 2014 interview on the Diane Rehm show, Johnson said he was supposed to pay capital gains tax to the IRS after the sale of his home. The Telegraph reported the property was likely a home in North London that he bought with his wife in 1999 for 470,000 pounds. They sold it in 2009 for 1.2 million pounds, realizing a gain of 730,000 pounds.

In Britain, profits on the sale of a first home are exempt. But because Johnson was still a U.S. citizen, his tax liability was in the ballpark of about 100,000 pounds, according to tax experts. Johnson declared in 2014 that he would not pay the outstanding bill.

"It's absolutely outrageous," he said of the amount. "Why should I?"

Well, it's not really the amount that's outrageous. It's the idea that Johnson "owes" the US government anything at all. Even if taxation wasn't theft -- and yes, taxation is theft -- he neither lives nor works in the US nor do I see any mention in the story of him owning property in the US. What is there for him to pay taxes on, except possibly sales taxes on purchases he makes when visiting the US?

The US regime's claim is that since Johnson was born in the US, he's a "citizen;" that until and unless he renounces his "citizenship," it's owed a cut of everything he earns; and that when and if he does renounce his "citizenship" it ought to get an "exit tax" (which, the Post notes, could come to more than a million bucks).

I suspect that Johnson could lay down a great line of flowery British invective on the subject. Since I'm an American, I'll keep my summary to three words: Fuck that noise.

But beyond the issue itself, a pet peeve:

The Post story refers to "his tax liability" and "his taxes" and states as fact that Johnson "owed a hefty bill."

Those expressions beg the question. That is, they assume the conclusion being argued: That a demand on the part of the US government constitutes an obligation on the part of the demandee (in this case, Boris Johnson).

Again: Fuck that noise.

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