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Taxation is Theft AND immoral

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Started: 5/14/2016 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 726 times Debate No: 91068
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (8)
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Standard rules.

First round for acceptance.


I accept this challenge and will attempt to prove that taxation is not theft and is moral.

Taxation shall herein be defined as the governmental action of collecting a portion of the people's money for the further development of this country.

Theft shall herein be defined as the criminal act of forcefully taking money from a person without the person's consent.

Morality shall herein be defined as in the general philosophical sense, but I would require for my opponent to try and prove taxation's immorality in a variety of means, including consequentialism, Kantian categorical imperatives and perhaps in terms of Aristotelian virtue.

One other note, please keep this debate secular.

Thank you, and I will allow my opponent to speak now.
Debate Round No. 1


I must defend two main syllogisms to fulfill my burden of proof:


Premiss One:

Theft is initiated force aimed at revoking one’s right of ownership over something without consent and granting a new right of ownership to the thief.


Definitional; when a highwayman demands money, they are removing your ownership of the money and making it their possession. This is theft not because of the transition of ownership rights, but because the transition does not respect the self-ownership of the victim, in that the victim was not able to decide whether or not to give up ownership of the money of their own accord; the choice was made for them, thus stripping them of free will. It is force or the threat of force which grants the highwayman his power.

Premiss Two:

Taxation is theft.


For an act to not be theft, one criteria must be met: that the act be done with the consent of all involved.

Just as one cannot be said to “consent to sex” at gunpoint precisely because of the violent consequences of one of the two responses (yes or no), one cannot be said to consent to anything at gunpoint.

In the same vein, consent means the consent of he who is in charge of governing his rights: the individual. One cannot consent on another’s behalf; ten cannot make it so that one consents; ten million cannot either. Likewise, one cannot assume that another consents “by default”. What other meaning of “consent” is imaginable?

Taxation is by no means consensual. Consent implies that one can either say yes or no; if one says no to taxation, they are jailed. If one tries to escape their unjust imprisonment, they are shot. Taxation is backed by guns.

Conclusion One:

Taxation is [the initiation of force].


Premiss One’:

The initiation of force is, without qualifiers, immoral.


Axiom: Humans are able to purposefully act.

Axiom: Morality determines the proper acts and aims of moral agents.

Extension: Where one cannot purposefully act (where one cannot choose one's goals and means), morality plays no role.

Definition: Saying "X should do Y" is a moral claim.

Axiom: All essential things being equal but the agent, moral judgments retain their validity.

Extension: "X should do Y" is equivalent to "X' should do Y" if X and X' are essentially indistinguishable.

Proposition: "X should give up his own freedom" is a contradixion.

Demonstration: The statement professes an acceptance of morality (it is normative), but advocates that one discard morality (for giving up one's freedom destroys moral agency).

Proposition: "X should violate Z's freedom (make Z give up his freedom)" is a contradixion.

If X giving up his freedom is a contradixion, it cannot be prescribed, and if Z giving up his freedom is effectively the same, morally, as X giving up his freedom, the new statement also falls.

The same applies to "X should give up freedom in favour of another value."

Premiss Two’:

Taxation is the initiation of force.

Conclusion Two:

Taxation is, without qualifiers, immoral.



George_DZ forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


Seeing that the entirety of my opponent"s proposition is based on the single proposition that taxation is done without consent, I will proceed to attack it.

Taxation firstly, is carried out only to those who reside in the given area. Tourists, for example, are given the chance to refund their taxes, on the basis that they do not reside in the area. Taxation is carried out only to people who reside in the area. When residing in an area, you agree to that area"s laws, in exchange for protection by that area. When you apply for residence or citizenship for example, you are required to sign papers that legally bind you to that area"s law. This agreement guarantees you citizenship rights, which may include healthcare education and military protection. But this agreement also subjects you to the law, which includes laws on taxation. By residing in your country, you have agreed explicitly to this agreement, and agreed to be subjected to the country"s law, and therefore you have consented to being taxed. By consenting to this legal social contract, you have also agreed that you will be punished if you do not pay your taxes. Therefore, while you might be punished, it is only at your prior consent.

And since you agreed to be taxed, the taking away of money from you is with your consent and therefore not theft, which also makes your argument on how taxation is immoral fall, since it requires the premise that taxation is theft.

Secondly, tax money is almost always used for the development of a country. Such developments requires funding that comes from taxes, and therefore development is a consequence of taxation. Development has the goal to improve the lives of people, and therefore taxation has good consequences making taxation moral by consequentialism.
Debate Round No. 3


“Taxation firstly, is carried out only to those who reside in the given area. Tourists, for example, are given the chance to refund their taxes, on the basis that they do not reside in the area. Taxation is carried out only to people who reside in the area.”

This does nothing to my case. A gang in control of a few city blocks is no less a gang because they have a specified operational area.

“When residing in an area, you agree to that area"s laws, in exchange for protection by that area.”

On the Social Contract

Re: Immigration: If a Government is illegitimate from the start, no legitimate contracts may be signed with it. My opponent merely assumes that the Government has a de facto right to make contracts regarding living within a general geographic area. The fact that natural-born citizens have not consented shows the illegitimacy of the State.

I must ask: Where have I signed a contract to live in this country?

Quoting Lysander Spooner’s “No Treason”:

The laws holds, and reason declares, that if a written instrument is not signed, the presumption must be that the party to be bound by it, did not choose to sign it, or to bind himself by it. [...] Neither law nor reason requires or expects a man to agree to an instrument, until it is written; for until it is written, he cannot know its precise legal meaning. And when it is written, and he has had the opportunity to satisfy himself of its precise legal meaning, he is then expected to decide, and not before, whether he will agree to it or not. And if he do not THEN sign it, his reason is supposed to be, that he does not choose to enter into such a contract. The fact that the instrument was written for him to sign, or with the hope that he would sign it, goes for nothing.

Where would be the end of fraud and litigation, if one party could bring into court a written instrument, without any signature, and claim to have it enforced, upon the ground that it was written for another man to sign? that this other man had promised to sign it? [...] The very judges, who profess to derive all their authority from the Constitution — from an instrument that nobody ever signed — would spurn any other instrument, not signed, that should be brought before them for adjudication.


Moreover, a written instrument must, in law and reason, not only be signed, but must also be delivered to the party (or to some one for him), in whose favor it is made, before it can bind the party making it. The signing is of no effect, unless the instrument be also delivered. […] The Constitution was not only never signed by anybody, but it was never delivered by anybody, or to anybody's agent or attorney. It can therefore be of no more validity as a contract, then can any other instrument that was never signed or delivered.”

On the Usage of Tax Money

A.) If my a priori moral framework holds, naïve consequentialism does not hold, and thus this objection is useless.

B.) The idea that benefits from immorality may change its immoral status is absurd. Does my opponent admit that slavery is perfectly moral, given that the money gained from the slaves’ labour “goes towards their benefit”? I doubt as much; even besides my argument against force, moral intuition would not grant us this conclusion.



George_DZ forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by ShabShoral 2 years ago
BenD, I'm an Objectivist.
Posted by BenD 2 years ago
Also, DebaterGood? I want to take you up on that, but I can't send you a message.
Posted by BenD 2 years ago
I would take this. The only thing is, I do need to know your basis of morality.
Posted by Cobalt 2 years ago
Choose me... if you'd like to *lose*. Dun, dun, duuunnnnnnn.

On a serious note, since you're "just gauging for interest" and since you can't possibly debate all of the 48 debates you just posted, I should point out that your position is a little broad -- which works against you.

You would have to prove in some meaningful way that tax is theft and that it is immoral. So not only do you have to delve into social contract theory and other political ideas, but you furthermore have to a) prove that morality is even a thing that can be objectively measured and b) show that taxes fit into the "wrong" category. That is not easy to do in 10,000 characters. This debate would be better suited to either "theft" or "immorality". Otherwise, the opponent only has to find one flaw in your necessarily thin argument to win.
Posted by DebaterGood 2 years ago
I hate debates that only have debaters choose "worthy" opponents.
BTW if anyone needs a debate judged, you can send me them.
Posted by webby53 2 years ago
interesting alothugh I agree so I cannot debate this...
Posted by jglass841 2 years ago
How else do you expect a government to provide for its people?
Posted by George_DZ 2 years ago
I accept.
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