Show Me a Coin Used for Paying Tax
By: Graham Sproule
Although the utility of a coin has decreased in the modern age of electronic banking, the image of a coin remains a potent one. For this reason alone, there is no reason to believe that the age of the ‘coin-less of ce’ will ever come to pass any sooner the age of ‘paperless of ce’ that we are supposed to be living in now. Two news stories late last year involving the historical enmity of the tax collector and the merchant demonstrate this truism.
In the first story, the Canada Revenue Agency wins a court order forcing eBay to hand over to revenue data and other contact information of PowerSellers to its agency. These sellers in question are Canadian merchants who sell at least three thousand dollars of goods per year. Incidentally, a good number of them are coin dealers. In the second story a citizen of Floyd County, Indiana named Frank Alford protests a property tax hike by paying the county’s treasury with four hundred pounds of coins or $21,333. Clearly, it seems that it is Alford rather than eBay who more effectively challenges the zealotry of the tax collector. Considering the very fact that sellers on eBay deal in monetary transactions in the millions of dollars, it is striking at how much more quickly the four hundred pounds of coins impress the human mind. This is simply because four hundred pounds of shiny silver dollars are quantifiable to the eye as opposed to a written sum so large that most people cannot being to visualize it. Of course, man’s desire to see and show his livelihood predates the advent of the first tokens.
Because of the obvious impediments of trade in a barter system, these first tokens were struck to account for the goods one possessed. And these early tokens often took the exact shape of the goods they represented such as sh, loaves of bread, clothing, and even “abstract” possessions one might have. Before the ascent of divine kings and emperors whose rule brought prosperity to all forms of livelihood, these tokens were commonly given in tribute at the temples of the gods and goddesses thought to have dominion over the goods in question. Mankind’s psyche endures, and research has shown that people spend more when they are using credit and debit cards than when they are using coins and cash. Again, the less tangible their prosperity, the more predisposed men are to lose that prosperity. This is why the practice of paying taxes in low denomination coins has long been of form of protest against tax collection. It has been my contention that if Canadians could only see the amount of taxes they paid each year in garbage trucks filled with loonies that there would be a taxpayer revolt tomorrow. If they want to protest this latest state intrusion, perhaps the PowerSellers should take a cue from Frank Alford and insist on paying their taxes to Revenue Canada in coins. Better yet, perhaps they should take a cue from the ancient civilizations and pay their taxes in tokens of the different shapes of the commodities they sell on eBay. And if they do, I’m sure even Revenue Canada would rather receive some old coin than someone on credit.
Previously published in the ENS “The Planchet” Magazine Vol-56 Issue-07