Dell and Microsoft ranked among the world's most ethical companies.

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by don_svetlio, Mar 14, 2017.

  1. Fishon

    Fishon I Will Close You

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    Especially at Gabe since noticing you pressed the like button for both mine and Jarhead's comment, but would love to hear from everyone. What do you feel is correct and an obligation to do? Letter of the law or not? I'll pick an example. Put a few cows on some land and you can call it grazing property and receive tax breaks. So developers rent cattle and receive these tax breaks. Letter of the law says it's fine but everyone know this was not the intent of the law and it's being abused. So does everyone feel its the obligation on the company or corporation to minimize their taxes with this, and feel it's only the government who should further regulate and define what is legal here and what is not?

    America's Dumbest Tax Loophole: The Florida Rent-a-Cow Scam
     
  2. Jarhead

    Jarhead Perfectly Sane

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    Oh Florida..... that's an amusing loophole.

    Well, there is a difference between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law, as you've noted; the letter is obviously enforceable by law but the spirit cannot be enforced, that is left to the people involved to decide to follow (developers ought not to use cows, in this case). Personally, following the spirit of the law should be voluntary as it currently stands and if we want people to be forced to follow the spirit of the law, it needs to be converted to a letter of the law. For example, amend the existing law to stipulate that a piece of land that is recieving this cow tax benefit also cannot be simultaneously used for residential purposes, and once that property is used for residential purposes the tax benefit ends.

    Letting the spirit be legally binding presents a few issues. One problem, we have to define exactly what the spirit is; this isn't a trivial matter, and pointing towards "what the Founding Fathers intended..." is a rather famous example. Another problem is that the spirit of the law implies that said law is supposed to follow some sort of ethic or moral guideline, and unless the One True Moral Code is suddenly discovered, you're going to have competing codes all claiming to be correct. In the US, for example, we allow women to drive cars because the usual correct moral code here is that men and women are equal creatures. However, Saudi Arabia bans women from driving because of their correct moral codes. Which moral code is more correct, and thus which is the correct spirit of the law?

    Just like with personal taxes, a company should be allowed to use legal methods to minimize their tax bill. This isn't all that much different from marriage or child care tax credits, for example.

    As for the government, I'd agree that they should be the ones who regulate tax laws; the whole point of a government is to serve its people, and establishing and enforcing laws is a part of that. If a tax loophole is unpopular, those people need to put pressure on their government to amend or even remove that loophole.

    Personally, I don't see government actions as a right or wrong; they just are. A government is a reflection of the people it has jurisdiction over, and what the people decide is right or wrong is not constant. An extreme example would be slavery: at first it was completely legal, then it was abolished and replaced with Jim Crow laws, then later we have the Civil Rights Act and followups tat continue to the present day; in each of those time periods, the population as a whole decided that those actions were the right actions. Going back to taxes, we have the same fluidity in right and wrong with our (massive) tax code; apparently the current situation is that Florida wants to encourage grazing and most (all?) states want to encourage child-bearing families. Maybe in the future one or both will change (I'm certainly not too happy that I need to raise a kid to lower my taxes).
     
  3. Fishon

    Fishon I Will Close You

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    ^^^ There have always been people and companies who have pushed the limits on what they are ethically willing to do in these gray areas- the 'spirit' of things is the term you use. You speak of competing codes and no absolute morality, therefore they are obligated to exercise these limits to there fullest extent. My whole point is there was a time not so long ago where someone drew a line and decided not to cross it. The use of a basic human instinct which comes down it- if it feels right in your gut or not. Not saying this is absolute at all, and it's always a moving target which constantly needs to be examined. Another example from my personal experience when I sold mortgages was the pay option ARM. Perfectly legal (if the underwriter approved it, it was legal so my hands would be clean), horrible for 99% of the population, and I sold a few. Point up front and three in the back would get me a five figure check on one refi. Did it a few times while others sold many. Just didn't feel right. To do things in business honestly and ethically where you can look at someone straight in the face without any embarrassment is much harder than the other way. But too often the 'new norm' is to justify the heck out of everything and just hang onto that letter of the law. We'll have to agree to disagree Jarhead.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2017
  4. Gabrielgvs

    Gabrielgvs Notebook Consultant

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    Let me first say that there is no way you could possibly know the scope of the issue you raise. :vbeek: It's everywhere here in Florida. In addition to business entities, it's a common practice among just about any demographic group you can think of. In fact, I'm all the time commenting to my wife about people "installing cows". :vbbiggrin:

    Anyway, tax is a different animal. The main difference is that entities do not willingly enter into a good faith contract with another willing party for the object of increasing economic value. Tax is imposed -a one way street (predominantly). Tax theory suggests that it is in no way subversive to reduce one's tax exposure using all legal means. This opinion is fairly universal believe it or not. It's based on the aforementioned idea that taxes are imposed but provide no direct benefit to a party. Difficult to make a value judgement about a company seeking a legal shelter. Someone gets paid a lot of money to answer for those finances.
     
  5. Jarhead

    Jarhead Perfectly Sane

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    Yeah, it seems that way. Perhaps outlet guts are different as well :).

    Taking that selling example, personally I'd be more than willing to make the sale even if it is bad for the customer. However, I would also inform them fully about the deal and why it would be good or bad for them, so so long as there is informed consent I'm cool with it. I guess a relevant example in my industry (even though I'm not in sales) would be health savings accounts (which usually have high-ish deductibles); they're great if you're able to make decent contributions to the HSA and/or if you're young and invincible, though they are probably not a great choice for those who are chronically sick and require regular, expensive care. That said, if a sick person is insistent on signing up for it, all the power to them.
     
  6. Jarhead

    Jarhead Perfectly Sane

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    Eh, there is actually a way to leave a bad tax situation: simply relocate to a different tax jurisdiction with which you agree with. A person who doesn't like paying high taxes in CA might choose to move to SC, for example. Or an EU citizen might decide to move to the US. For those who hate the idea of taxes altogether (those "taxation is theft!" nutters), there is Liberland and Bir Tawil ;).
     
  7. Gabrielgvs

    Gabrielgvs Notebook Consultant

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    Whose unhappy with their tax status? :vbconfused: I like here just fine for that, particularly given that we have no state income tax. :newpalm:
     
  8. Jarhead

    Jarhead Perfectly Sane

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    Everything said, however, I agree with you Fishon that businesses should treat their customers well. Though personally I don't try to put on a moral/ethical face to explain why; it's simply good business sense to do so. The rest is gravy :)
     
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