web analytics
October 25, 2014 / 1 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Avoiding Taxes, At All Costs?

 I was recently traveling across the United States/Canadian Border. As soon as people heard I would be traveling that way, my phone began ringing off the hook. Friends, and even strangers, called me to ask if I would take packages for them. From a favorite food for someone’s daughter, baby clothes for a new grandchild, to a much loved breakfast cereal; the requests came pouring in. But what astounded me the most was the requests from people I didn’t know asking me to take jewelry. One person asked if I would take a diamond ring to her son so he could propose. She wanted to send it with me so that it would not be held up for taxes.

 

 I couldn’t help but wonder how the stranger could know I was an honest person and actually trust me to deliver the ring. And then I thought about all these packages I was being asked to take and wondered if they indeed contained what the people told me they did. Forget about them trusting me. The real question was could I trust them?

 

            There are many reasons I do not take packages for people when I travel. I am still astounded that so many people do, even from strangers. Every few months we read another story about someone being arrested for unknowingly smuggling drugs hidden in cans of coffee, birthday cakes, or suitcases. We are all fair game to the unscrupulous or the addicted whether we are close relatives or have never seen this person before. So many innocent people are serving time in prison for helping a friend or a stranger. 

 

So, how can we teach our children (and even ourselves) to maintain a high level of chesed, to be willing to run and do for another, while at the same time staying safe in a world filled with danger? How can we learn to tell the difference between chesed and exploitation?

 

            This is what I would like to suggest as a partial solution to the problem. It may not help in all situations, but I think in most cases it can be effective.  It’s simply to follow a strict adherence to halacha. 

 

 People are asked to take packages for others for a variety of reasons. For some the packages are a way of sending their love. For others it is a way of avoiding taxes. Most of us have come to see cheating the taxman as a positive thing. But in reality it is simply geneiva, theft. The Torah instructs us to obey the laws of the land we live in. Like it or not, taxes are part and parcel of those rules. We need to teach our children, and realize ourselves, that helping someone avoid taxes is simply not kosher. If we are able to get this message through to our children then they will readily refuse to take the diamonds (so a friend can avoid taxes) that turn out to be drugs or the artifact (with the high tax rate) that is filled with Ecstasy or jewelry etc. They will deny the request as quickly as they would deny a suggestion that they rob the local store because they will see them both as theft, which indeed is exactly what they are.

 

 But what of the other items we are asked to deliver – the gift to a daughter living in a different city or the toy to a grandchild or the sealed package for a friend’s birthday. Emes, truth, is our protection in these cases. Simply ask the person to write their own name and address on the package and then be truthful at the border, telling the guard that you are taking a package for this person and you did not pack it yourself. Ask the sender to leave the package open so you can examine it and know what it contains so you can be honest at the border when asked what you are carrying. Anyone, stranger or friend, who declines your request and wants you to lie for them, can just use the mail services.

 

 I am not naive enough to think that this will solve the whole problem. Unscrupulous people will still find ways to take advantage of our children’s and our own innocence and lack of experience. But being meticulously honest and truthful in all our dealings, both within our community and outside it, being extra careful in our halachic observance can only add to our own well-being and safety. The closer we strive to meet the ideals of Hashem’s Torah, the more we infuse ourselves and teach our children to be thoroughly honest and truthful in all our dealings, in business and life, the more protected we will be.


 


You can reach me at annnovick@hotmail.com

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Avoiding Taxes, At All Costs?”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Israel's Minister of Defense Moshe Ya'alon, visiting the family of  IDF Golani Brigade soldier St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul in the northern village of Poria on August 10, 2014. Shaul was killed by Hamas in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge.
State Department Continues Grudge Match Against Ya’alon
Latest Sections Stories
Nimchinsky-102414-Flag

This past summer was a powerful one for the Jewish people. I will always remember where I was on June 12th when I found out that Gilad, Eyal and Naftali were kidnapped. I will always remember the look on my sister’s face on June 30th when she told me that they were found. I will […]

Schonfeld-logo1

Avromi often put other people’s interests before his own: he would not defend people whom he believed were guilty (even if they were willing to pay him a lot of money).

Kupfer-102414

The Presbyterian Church USA voted to divest from three companies that do business with Israel.

How can I help my wife learn to say “no,” and understand that her first priority must be her husband and family?

My eyes skimmed an article on page 1A. I was flabbergasted. I read the title again. Could it be? It had good news for the Miami Jewish community.

Students in early childhood, elementary, and middle school were treated to an array of hands-on projects to create sukkah decorations such as wind chimes, velvet posters, sand art, paper chains, and more.

It is important for a therapist to focus on a person’s strengths as a way of overcoming his or her difficulties.

Sadly, there are mothers who, due to severe depression are unable or unwilling to prepare nourishing food for their children.

Michal had never been away from home. And now, she was going so far away, for so long – an entire year!

Though if you do have a schach mat, you’ll realize that it cannot actually support the weight of the water.

More Articles from Ann Novick

When one is blind one learns to use Braille to read. When one cannot walk, a wheelchair gives mobility. Sign language allows a mute person to speak and ocular implants assist in hearing when one is deaf. These are all compensatory strategies that help a person function despite his disability. But compensatory strategies are not just for physical problems. Understanding our psychological weaknesses and setting up our lives to ensure that we are not tempted to repeat our past mistakes, is as necessary as any aid to the disabled.

Well spouses have often discovered that their friends and relatives, despite their closeness to the situation, often don’t realize the tremendous emotional impact living with chronic illness has on the family. With the best intentions, suggestions, ideas and criticism are offered, based on the non-experience of those with healthy families. Even when the good intentioned get a taste of the difficulties, it is sometimes not enough for them to then identify and understand what the family of the chronically ill must face on a constant basis.

Over the past two weeks I have shared letters from a therapist and a well spouse. Both of the letters gave personal insights into the process of losing hope, how we react when that happens and some ways of coping when test scores, diagnosis and just simple repetitive behavior indicate that change for the better is impossible.

Dear Ann,

I’ve read your last few articles on psycho-neurological testing (Oct.8-22) with interest. As a therapist who has counseled couples dealing with chronic illness, I’d like to give you another perspective.

Dear Ann,

Your articles on the Neuro-Psychological Testing were right on (October 8-22). My husband underwent testing twice and your articles explained it things exactly the way they were. Besides the test, we also tried therapy.

Very often when we can’t face our big hurts or big loses we focus on the little ones. We can discuss those. We can cry over the small loses, be angry at the smaller hurts even though it may look trite and sound ridiculous to others.

Over the last two weeks we have been discussing one way in which well spouses can determine whether behavior displayed by their ill partners is caused by their illness or is a way they have chosen to act. We have focused on Psycho-Neurological testing, what it can tell us, as well as its pros and cons.

Last week I discussed a question that haunts many well spouses: not knowing if the difficult and often inappropriate behavior frequently displayed by their partners are caused by the disease and therefore not-controllable, or if the behavior is a choice the spouse makes and can therefore be changed. This doubt can be the source of much frustration and many marital disagreements. One way of alleviating this doubt is by having a psycho- neurological work up done. But that path is not so simple.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/avoiding-taxes-at-all-costs/2009/07/22/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: