This is what anarcho-capitalists say. What a load of… isn’t it?
Did I ever agree to pay tax? If I didn’t then am I not robbed blind by the government which extracts it from me at gunpoint? Conversely – do I not use the variety of “free” public services and enjoy “protection” from domestic and foreign bullies? If I do, wouldn’t I agree that someone’s got to pay for all this, and that I too should have a part in this, in the interest of fairness?
- “Taxation is theft” tends to be a Libertarian as well as Anarcho-Capitalist position, both of which reject the constitutionality or validity of coercive force used to enslave citizens in this manner. At the same time, one could argue that the history of our entire civilization is a history of taxation in one form or another. There has never been a “civilized” society where the citizens haven’t been compelled to pay their dues for the security and privileges their civilization bestowed upon them. The most common Libertarian position is not so much that “any” taxation is wrong, but that “federal” taxation is, essentially, illegal. The Anarcho-Capitalist position is simply that there should be NO coercive relationships within a society at all. The vast majority of political factions and ideologies, however, tend to agree that “some” taxation is necessary for the smooth running of a society. “Otherwise, who would build the roads?”
- Historically, even when taxation was low, people always grumbled against it, but most agreed that it’s needed to fund the government in order to pay for police, public services and wars. Today, however, there are some interesting exceptions to the general grumbling, most especially in countries like Sweden, Denmark or Norway, where taxation is among the highest in the world, while opposition to it is among the lowest. The Scandinavians claim that their high taxes are worth it – just look at all the well-oiled social services! Citizens of most other Western countries, however, decidedly disagree with the LEVEL of taxation – but not the PRINCIPLE.
- Determining whether taxation is “theft” i.e. “immoral” or not depends to a large extent on the worldview one embraces. But a philosophical analysis is also needed – and the result of careful consideration reveals that the issue isn’t very clear cut at all. Proponents of taxation cite “social contract” and “government services to the citizenry” as justification but they gloss over the gun-point coercion necessary to extract the payments from those very citizens for whose alleged good taxes are collected. And hardly anyone even realizes that the worst kind of taxation is the hidden one: inflation. And yet, even the more libertarian-minded among us have a problem imagining a safe and fair society without a government, i.e. without taxation.
Strictly speaking, and in view of the laws on the books, taxation is NOT theft. It is rather the PARTIAL cost of sustaining the government. Morally speaking, however, as long as one embraces the libertarian position that there is to be no coercion or use of force in a just society, and that one’s primary right is the right to property (including oneself), then from that point of view taxation IS indeed theft.