Opinion: Taxation is Theft
Our society is based on a government formed by a social contract in which everyone must follow certain rules that are in the interest of the general will. However, the very idea of a state that exists only by forcibly taking people’s wealth contradicts the notion of a social contact because a contract is a mutual agreement between two parties. The taxpayer is forced into it.
Economist Murray Rothbard put it best, “Taxation is theft, purely and simply even though it is theft on a grand and colossal scale which no acknowledged criminals could hope to match. It is a compulsory seizure of the property of the State’s inhabitants, or subjects.”
Although one can weigh the costs and benefits of taxation in general or of a given tax, it is impossible to produce a logical explanation that morally justifies taxation without using false a priori assumptions — preconceived ideas that aren’t based on facts. This is not a functional argument; it is the moral conclusion when you logically consider what taxation implies.
Dr. Paul Johnson of Auburn University defines taxation as, “A compulsory transfer of money from private individuals, institutions or groups to the state.” The key term is “compulsory,” which means that citizens have an obligation enforced by the threat of violence or further seizure of assets by the state if they do not comply.
In the United States, no one can simply leave society. According to U.S. tax law, citizens and legal residents are subject to U.S. income taxes regardless of where they live. Time Magazine reported that U.S. citizens are required by the government to pay taxes even if they live and work in another country. There is no consent involved in taxation. Even if you renounces your citizenship the U.S. government will still force you to pay taxes. The forcible taking of someone’s property is robbery. Whether it is the government, a cartel, or another individual, stealing is stealing.
The state does not produce anything. Therefore, it only exists through subsisting on what it takes away from productive individuals. Taxes take many forms, and every form violates the basic human rights of private property and owning one’s labor. An income tax implies the state owns a percentage of your productivity and labor and is therefore tantamount to indentured servitude.
A consumption tax is one levied against consumers when they purchase a commodity or service. That is to say you need to pay money to the state to purchase food and exist. Not only does taxation provide a moral hazard, it stifles individual freedom, economic growth, and increases the cost of living.
Many people see the fruits of their hard work diminished after the federal and state income taxes, property tax, consumption tax, excise tax, and value added taxes are levied against them. The fact of the matter is, no one has the right to another person’s labor or property. You cannot morally justify taxation because it violates the natural rights of man. Taxation cannot be implemented except by the state coercing individuals to give in by threat of force. The entire process is nonconsensual.
If people are allowed to trade, buy, and exchange goods and services without the interference of a bandit such as the state, people would be able to live truly free. Because prosperity is almost always mutually beneficial, individuals acting in their own self-interest would be a catalyst for wealth and prosperity across societies.
Taxation is theft. There is no way around it. But that doesn’t conclude that there should be no means of levying taxes on citizens. Rather, because taxation is theft at its core, people should endeavor to create a consensual contract between man and government and reform government so it functions on the lowest possible rate of taxation. This is not only a just approach but also the most practical and beneficial approach for economic freedom and prosperity for all.