The Instigator
easyaspieify
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
Caise
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

Taxation is theft

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/29/2016 Category: Economics
Updated: 2 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 311 times Debate No: 95739
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
Votes (0)

 

easyaspieify

Pro

Hello everyone, I am here to argue the well-trodden argument that taxation of a person's labor is tantamount to theft. This is my first time debating on this website, and I would like to test myself and challenge my ideas.

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.
Caise

Con

It is clear that in a democracy the state is representative of the individual. Democracy is the rule of the people, and the budget of a state is therefore the budget of the people. When a leader is elected, the people are indicating that they agree with the priorities of the leader. When you consider the state and the people as one entity - which in a democracy they must be - anything owned by the state is owned by the people, and no tax is actually taken from the people, but is rather re-designated to improve the lives of the whole people rather than only the individual.

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.
Debate Round No. 1
easyaspieify

Pro

The way in which tax money is used makes no difference on whether it is theft or not. Again, if I robbed someone and gave their money to charity, it is still a theft. The issue of infrastructure with small government is solved, not by individuals, but by private companies. The same reasoning was used to argue against freeing slaves, saying that without slaves, nobody would pick the cotton. This is obviously invalid. If there is a demand for it, then construction companies will be able to fulfill demand, paid for by the community (land ownership taxes). Once again, I am not arguing against all tax, only against taxation on earnings.

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.
Caise

Con

Private companies are not a valid alternative to government. A voluntary, community-funded initiative sounds nice, but would not work in practise. It would end up with some people paying more than their share, and some not paying at all yet getting all the same benefits as those who paid. The only fair way to fund infrastructure is a compulsory method where everyone pays according to their means: tax, organised by the government. A government is always preferable to a private company, as the company will be focused on profit, while the government will have the people as its priority.

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.
Debate Round No. 2
easyaspieify

Pro

It doesn't matter if you consider government preferable to private companies - a point which could be debated on its own - it does not change the means that they utilize. To say that compulsory tax is the only fair way to fund infrastructure is invalid. If I don't use a new highway, why should I be forced to pay for it?

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.
Caise

Con

If the government builds a new highway, all citizens have the ability to use it for free. If you bought a product, but did not use it, it would not be theft on the part of the company who charged you. It is the same in government; the people decide how money is spent, and if you do not use it that is not theft. Choosing not to use something you have paid for does not make you a victim of theft.

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.
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Zaephou 2 months ago
Zaephou
Taxation is just, as you said it benefits society. It is also consensual since you are making an agreement to follow the laws of the country upon entry or citizenship. It is similar to how doing homework is a consensual agreement between the student and the school, and not doing so will eventually get you expelled if severe enough. Taxation is also not unannounced, like a theft would be, since the citizen knows that have to pay tax. If one day you found out money has been deducted from your account unannounced, that would be theft, a letter arriving to your house requesting you pay the tax would not be theft.
Posted by easyaspieify 2 months ago
easyaspieify
Caise: I define theft as the unjust and non-consensual taking of wealth. For example, returning stolen money to its rightful owner is not stealing, as the money was legitimately earned by the original owner, and not the thief.

Zaephou: I'd be happy to debate you. I did say that taxation on earnings is theft, but other forms - such as tax on land ownership - can be legitimate. I don't see why the country would revert to old taxation methods, unless they continued to provide services to those who no longer pay for them.
Posted by Zaephou 2 months ago
Zaephou
People get the choice to pay tax, one person chooses to not pay the tax/ pay very little tax. Other realize that they can do this too, and follow suite. Soon there will be little to no tax being payed by the entire country. So the country would refer to the old taxation methods.
Posted by Caise 2 months ago
Caise
How would you be defining theft for this debate?
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