“Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Benjamin Franklin.
I coincidentally write this new article in the Rightful Liberty series after opening a final notice in the mail for county taxes – vehicle property tax and all sorts of miscellaneous robbery. Explicitly written in the letter was a threat of violence via seizure of my personal property. So just like your land, it is not really yours, because if you don’t keep up with property tax, the state will sanction violence against you. Wow. Let freedom ring!
Anyway, the above is just anecdotal. I’ll write them a check. because I don’t have any choice – I am held to ransom. This post isn’t about that as such, it simply serves to highlight the issue.
So what about tax?
I see many commenters stating that all tax is theft. I certainly feel that way. More so because we live in a society that is firstly not at all free, and secondly is socialist and believes that those that earn owe a significant amount of their earnings to those who don’t.
Is tax theft?
Is the amount of tax, the burden of it, what makes it theft or not?
Is the destination (redistribution) of your hard earned cash, once taxed, what makes it theft?
How should tax be structured?
A lot of interesting questions.
If you believe in no government, then you rightly agree that tax is theft. You are on your own. If you believe in small government, then you must agree that some tax is necessary as a contribution to fund the operations of that government. If you are a socialist, you believe in redistribution of wealth. After all, the American Revolution was about ‘taxation without representation.” Although no one likes to pay taxes, the issue at hand was not taxes themselves, but the lack of representation in the government to which the taxes were paid.
There needs to be government of some kind. I think most Rightful Liberty believers would agree to that. Government needs funding in order to perform even limited functions. If you keep government small, and prevent it expanding, then you should be able to keep the tax burden down.
I personally believe that tax should be at a low rate and only to fund those public services that are not provided through the private sector, and that need some amount of government regulation. Infrastructure is a good example. This allows trade and creates wealth, so it is a good investment in the form of taxes. You can have these things provided by the private sector, but you would still have to pay for them. Tolls are the example for roads. You will still part with cash, and it may not be profitable for a private company to put a road where you need it.
Tax is not to feed the leviathan of massive government bureaucracy, or to engage in wealth redistribution or expensive social programs. I don’t agree with redistribution wealth. There may be some sort of safety net in society but it should not be comfortable. It should encourage you to get back on your feet if you fall into it. The plight of the poor is traditionally something that is taken care of by charity and philanthropy, rather than taxation.
Should taxation be voluntary? Well, if we live in a country and there is a tax level to pay for infrastructure and services, why should you live there and get it for free? If you don’t want to pay tax, move to somewhere where they don’t levy it, and enjoy the lack of any sort of infrastructure. Because bottom line, Rightful Liberty says you can do what you want. But it is also accompanied by law. Law which keeps some from harming others. If the people in a jurisdiction vote in a tax level, then you can either pay it and live there, or move somewhere else. You don’t get a free ride.
Should tax be a percentage or a flat rate? A percentage smacks of income redistribution – if I pay more tax then you, because I earn more, does that give me more rights? More use of the roads? No. So why should I pay more? Should tax be a simple flat charge, like the charge for trash service for example? What if I can’t afford it? Then you are not paying tax, but how about we move beyond money? If you can’t afford to pay tax, perhaps you can contribute in the form of community service? If taxes are used partly to upkeep the roads, maybe you can spend your Saturdays on a road gang, filling in potholes and thus reducing the cost to the actual taxpayers?
Of course, if the fiat currency fails, then you can’t tax people in money, only in barter items of value. The game changes if there is no dollar to garnish out of your wages.
I see a lot about various forms of financial strike – such as a tax strike – to force a return to Rightful Liberty. I just don’t see it. The leviathan just prints money. I don’t have the facts at hand, but I vaguely recall some statistic that the money for infrastructure comes out of your State taxes and your Federal taxes solely go to pay towards interest on the national debt, or something like that. Correct me in comments if necessary.
So, it is clear that although I am not fully resolved on all the issues, I think that there is a case for some tax, limited, to pay for the actions of a small government. Not a massive incompetent socialist bureaucracy. I also believe that not everything should be taxed, and not paying tax should not impact your rights to private property. It would be nice if we could make tax voluntary, but of course no one would pay it, unless there was an incentive to do so. That incentive would not be the threat of violence against your person or property. No debtors prisons! I think it is a very interesting topic – the amount of tax that is legitimate to pay for the necessary functions of government, and how to opt in and out of that, and what the benefits or drawbacks would be. Perhaps if you don’t pay tax, you have another obligation, such as some form of community service? So, you either cough up the cash, or pay with your time and labor. It’s just a philosophical thought. What if you choose to do neither?
So, rather than all the various forms of taxes that we now have, we would just have a flat rate government tax. If government cannot be run on that budget, it doesn’t get run. There is no room for massive social programs. If no one pays taxes, they don’t get their roads and bridges and all the other infrastructure that people expect.
There is certainly no easy solution. One thing is certain though – our current situation is intolerable.