Taxation is theft
Debate Rounds (3)
I am arguing that taxation of a person's earnings, under threat of government force, is equivalent to theft. Even if the tax dollars were being used purely for strategies that benefit society, forcing the populace to give their earnings to the government without any say is theft, as is any non-consensual transfer of wealth. At the very least, should citizens not be able to choose how their money is spent.
I do believe that taxation is of land ownership is legitimate, because owning land uses rivalrous public goods, and thus the community should be compensated. How this tax money is used should, however, not be down to the discretion of the most empowered in society. Even though they are voted for democratically, the decisions they ultimately make may not be representative of wider society. To argue that taxation is legitimized by the democratic election of representatives is also faulty. It would be considered theft if one person took money from someone and used it, regardless of how high-minded and ethical its use. Why should it be okay for an entire population to agree that everyone's money should be given to a cause? If even one person does not consent to this investment, then theft has occurred, under the pretense of legitimate government and social benefit. You can imagine that you were one of 100 people assigned to a group. The group votes that everyone should pitch in some money to build a pool for the group to use. You vote against the proposal, but are subject to the group's decision. The group forces you to hand over the money anyway. Does this not seem like theft? When you consider the fact that the state is armed and endorsed with the power to use violence over others, this seems even more evident to me.
As it stands, I can see how taxation can provide benefit to wider society. But I would consider it immoral to force someone to give to charity, and apply the same reasoning to taxation.
Besides this, tax is used to improve the life of the individual in public services and security. An individual would not be able to live in a state providing these things without paying taxes. If an individual were not taxed, the money would still be spent on improving the life of the individual, but not to the same effect as a government could provide, as a single person is not capable of constructing roads or maintaining a military for their protection.
As my opponent has stated, theft by any definition must be non-consensual. However, freedom of movement is a human right, and people may move from a country if they truly disagree with how the money is being spent. By having citizenship of a nation, an individual is guaranteed all rights and privileges associated with citizenship. Through citizenship, the individual is implicitly accepting both the rights and responsibilities, and is therefore consenting to tax as according to the laws of the nation. Consent is therefore given, and a theft has not occurred.
To say that people who disagree should leave the country is does not make sense. There may be a myriad of reasons that could prevent an individual from emigrating. And to say that citizenship is an implicit agreement to the social contract is not valid either. I was not asked if I wanted citizenship or not when I was born. I was made a citizen, and you claim that I have somehow agreed to something. It is not consent if there is no alternative.
Speaking again of slavery, no one is entitled to the fruits of another person's labor. To earn a certain amount and have the government take more than half of it makes no sense to me, and should not be excused because the government is elected democratically.
You cannot state that one form of tax is just, and that other forms are theft. Earnings are the most obvious things to tax, as they determine means; it would be easy for someone to have a large amount of land but only a small income.
It is also flawed to consider the government "stealing" money from the population. In democracy, the population is the government. In an unelected, despotic government it is possible that tax could be considered unjust, but when the state is representative of the people, and all money is reinvested into the country anyway, there has not been any real transfer.
Tax is absolutely necessary for a nation, or society, to function. Things such as law enforcement and military protection simply cannot be left to private companies.
I can and did argue that one form of tax is just and that other forms are theft. Perhaps a 'tax' on land ownership would be more accurately referred to as 'rent'. This is because owning and developing land is using public resources that can no longer be used by the rest of the community. Therefore it makes sense that the possible income provided by the land should be compensated to the community from which the land is being rented. Whatever word we use to describe this kind of arrangement, it is completely valid to argue that this way is just and an earnings tax is theft. So once again, I am arguing only against taxation on earnings. Although this next point is irrelevant to the actual debate, I believe that these taxes can support the integral functions of government, including law enforcement, the military, the legal system, and probably emergency services. However, as I previously mentioned, the ends do not justify the means; the uses of the tax money do not justify the taking of the tax money.
If there were really no transfer taking place in tax - because the money is supposedly all reinvested into the community - then what is even the point of taxation? If the money does not go back to the person paying it, then there is definitely a transfer taking place. Even if it did go back to the person paying, the original act of taking the money is not somehow annulled. If I took your money, held it, then gave it back, I still stole money from you originally.
Overall, regardless of the uses of tax money, the means used to obtain that money would be tantamount to extortion if committed by anyone other than the supposedly 'representative government'. The fact remains that if I were to decide that I didn't want to pay tax, I do not have that option. That is forcing monetary transfer. That is theft. Thank you for debating with me.
If one form of tax is just, all forms of tax are just, and vice versa. A personal account is money which cannot be used by the community in the same way as private property. All private property is resources which cannot be used by the community, although I admit that "all property is theft" is another debate in itself. Nevertheless, it could easily be said that all property is stolen from the community, which makes taxing it more just than allowing it to remain in the hands of the individual.
Tax taking from the community is given back to the community; this is simply a fact. Moreover, once money has been returned, it has not been stolen. It was simply taken and then given back. Even in a situation of two individuals, you would be highly unlikely to prosecute if someone took your wallet for a few seconds, then gave it back to you. This is not theft.
In a final conclusion, in most situations, these means would be theft. However, it is vital to remember that this government is democratically elected. The government is not some totally independent organisation throwing money in a hole in the ground. The government is one with the people. The people choose the government. The people choose what taxes are raised. The people choose what the taxes are spent on. This is not theft; it is civilisation.
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