The Instigator
mcc1789
Pro (for)
Winning
14 Points
The Contender
ConservativePolitico
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Taxes are Extortion and Theft

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
mcc1789
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/9/2012 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,623 times Debate No: 23519
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (4)

 

mcc1789

Pro

I will present my argument in the form of a syllogism.

Premise 1: Extortion is the act of securing money, favors, etc. by intimidation or violence. Theft is the taking of property belonging to another person with the intention of depriving the owner permanently of its possession.

Premise 2: A tax is a sum of money demanded by a government for its support or for specific facilities or services, levied upon incomes, property, sales, etc. Taxes are demanded under threat of fines and imprisonment for failure to pay them.

Conclusion: If a person accedes to this demand and pays, it is extortion. If they do not, it becomes theft as the state will forcibly seize their property, along with a fine and or imprisonment as penalty. Taxes thus are extortion and theft.

In accepting this debate, my opponent agrees to the definitions provided. Failure to abide by this should result in a loss of conduct points from voters. Forfeit of any or all rounds is a concession, and should result in loss of the debate points. Good luck to anyone who accepts this.

Sources:

Extortion: http://dictionary.reference.com... (Definition in World English Dictionary entry near the bottom)

Tax: http://dictionary.reference.com...

Theft: http://dictionary.reference.com... (Definition in World English Dictionary entry near the bottom)
ConservativePolitico

Con

Taxes are not extortion because taxes are a form of payment in return for services and privileges.

Services: national defense, welfare, education etc.
Privileges: citizenship, permission to live within the country etc.

Now, since a person can choose whether or not to live in the country (or a certain state) it is not extortion. Saying taxes is extortion is like eating a McDonald's hamburger and then saying that you shouldn't have to pay. If you don't pay then you'll be fined and maybe jailed for a time. This fine isn't theft, it's a fine for a penalty.

You are free to live within the United States but you are also free to leave at anytime and move elsewhere. Therefore, taxes are not extortion because you are receiving services for your payments. Not paying taxes is akin to refusing to pay for any private sector services.

Taxes to not equate to theft because the taking is not unlawful. You are required to pay taxes by law in return for various services and therefore are not theft. Also, the government has no intention of depriving you of your belongings permanently because your money comes back to you in the form of services. In the case of seizing property this is usually done for collateral for tax evasion or until taxes are paid and therefore have no intention of taking it permanently. Also, money does not count as property since it is only a medium to store value.

For these reasons, taxes are not extortion nor theft. Taxes are a payment for services.
Debate Round No. 1
mcc1789

Pro

If the demand of payment is for services and privileges someone did not ask to receive or cannot opt out of, this is still extortion. To counter your analogy, if McDonald's were the only fast food restaurant in a given area, delivered their food unasked for to people under threat of a theft charge if they did not pay, and had those arrested who refused to pay up, that would be the situation. Many of the people delivered to might, in fact, enjoy McDonald's food. They might not even object to buying it under other circumstances. However, behaving this way is still extortion and theft, whether the service delivered would otherwise in fact be desired or not. That a person is free to move hardly changes the fact, especially as they will certainly find similar operations in place there.

As for the legality argument, any behavior could theoretically be made legal. The question is, if the act were done the same way in any other circumstance, would it be extortion and theft? The answer is obviously yes, as the laws punish such acts specifically if any other entity commits them, and common definitions regard it the same.

It is an open question if all your tax payments return to you in the form of government services. I doubt whether for instance bailing out a failing company through taxpayer money can be considered a "service" to us. Many other similar examples can be thought of.

Being a medium to store value does not make money any less property. Regardless, my definition of extortion includes money without any reference to this.
ConservativePolitico

Con

Your body needs food to survive does it not? If you don't eat then you'll die. Is your body extorting money for food from you?

Now if we look at the definition you provided for extortion we see that it is the securing of money through means of violence and intimidation. Jail time in response to not paying taxes does not count as violence or intimidation. It is merely the effect of a cause and effect that exists. Cause: you don't pay taxes. Effect: jail. This is a truth and does not count as intimidation. You aren't intimidated into paying taxes but rather suffer a predetermined effect if you don't. This can fall in line with the food example. Cause: you don't eat. Effect: you starve. Your body doesn't intimidate the food out of you but rather you eat to avoid an unwanted effect. Same with taxes. The government doesn't intimidate you but rather you pay to avoid an unwanted effect.

You can opt out. You can move. Jump ship. Renounce your citizenship and move somewhere like Sudan or Somalia where there are little or no taxes. It might not be as easy as checking a box saying "No Thanks" for taxes but you can still opt out.

Lastly, the definition of theft doesn't truly fit the definition of taxes either. This is because when the government takes money in taxes, they have every intention of using it for the country. While you don't get the same money back you get it back in the form of services (national defense, police, medicine, welfare etc). Depriving you of your money for the sole purpose of lining the pockets of the president for example would be theft because you would never see that money given a back to you. However, the government takes taxes with the intention of using it to give back to the payer and therefore does not fit the definition of permanent deprivation of your property.
Debate Round No. 2
mcc1789

Pro

"Your body needs food to survive does it not? If you don't eat then you'll die. Is your body extorting money for food from you?"

No, because this is simply a natural need. Your body cannot "intimidate" you. Hunger pains are just a sign of it.

"Now if we look at the definition you provided for extortion we see that it is the securing of money through means of violence and intimidation. Jail time in response to not paying taxes does not count as violence or intimidation. It is merely the effect of a cause and effect that exists. Cause: you don't pay taxes. Effect: jail. This is a truth and does not count as intimidation. You aren't intimidated into paying taxes but rather suffer a predetermined effect if you don't. This can fall in line with the food example. Cause: you don't eat. Effect: you starve. Your body doesn't intimidate the food out of you but rather you eat to avoid an unwanted effect. Same with taxes. The government doesn't intimidate you but rather you pay to avoid an unwanted effect."

Really? Being arrested (forcibly taken hold of, handcuffed) and imprisoned (confined in a cage against my will) is not violence? [1] Yes, this could be seen as cause and effect, but that has nothing to do with whether or not it is violence. A protection racket could just as easily say "Pay us money or we something will happen to your store." Cause: You don't pay. Effect: Store burns down. By your standard, this is neither violence nor intimidation, but just the predetermined effect of refusal to pay the protection money. You also pay to avoid an unwanted effect.

"You can opt out. You can move. Jump ship. Renounce your citizenship and move somewhere like Sudan or Somalia where there are little or no taxes. It might not be as easy as checking a box saying "No Thanks" for taxes but you can still opt out."

The debate question is not whether you can go somewhere else to avoid taxes. Rather, whether they are extortion and theft by definition.

"Lastly, the definition of theft doesn't truly fit the definition of taxes either. This is because when the government takes money in taxes, they have every intention of using it for the country. While you don't get the same money back you get it back in the form of services (national defense, police, medicine, welfare etc). Depriving you of your money for the sole purpose of lining the pockets of the president for example would be theft because you would never see that money given a back to you. However, the government takes taxes with the intention of using it to give back to the payer and therefore does not fit the definition of permanent deprivation of your property."

Ok, let's consider Robin Hood. Robin Hood robs from the rich to give to the poor. Now in this example you're rich to start out with, but end up poor due to Robin Hood continually stealing from you. At this point you become poor, so Robin Hood gives some of it back. Does that make this any less theft? As you admit, the money is not given back. You get it back in other ways, sometimes, but that is others' money too. So it's not possible to know at that point whose original money has gone where, as it gets mixed together. You are thus at least partly permanently deprived of it. It is still theft where part of the money is given back to you.

I feel I've demonstrated that taxes meet the definitions of extortion and theft, while rebutting the counter-arguments my opponent presents. Please vote Pro.

[1] http://dictionary.reference.com... 2.
ConservativePolitico

Con

You sir are a great debater. I could continue but it is clear to me that I have lost this debate.

I respectfully and honorably concede the point.

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by mcc1789 5 years ago
mcc1789
I'd like to publicly thank ConservativePolitico for his complimentary and gracious concession of the debate.
Posted by Thaddeus 5 years ago
Thaddeus
Lol. Not even a debate so far (well provided mcc doesn't go full retard)
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by socialpinko 5 years ago
socialpinko
mcc1789ConservativePoliticoTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Concession, though Pro had a better case even before that (trying my best to keep my biases aside of course).
Vote Placed by Maikuru 5 years ago
Maikuru
mcc1789ConservativePoliticoTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Con conceded.
Vote Placed by 16kadams 5 years ago
16kadams
mcc1789ConservativePoliticoTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: FF
Vote Placed by WriterDave 5 years ago
WriterDave
mcc1789ConservativePoliticoTied
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: Con's concession. A shame that Pro wasn't debating me instead.