Taxation = Theft?

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fwiw
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Taxation = Theft?

Post by fwiw » Wed Jan 22, 2020 10:09 am

I think we should have this conversations, as I see Buddhists are divided on this issue, and it could be interesting to analyze why.

I would say that wage theft and unethical behavior giving unfair advantage are theft even before taxes are theft, and these issues should be discussed together in my opinion, to avoid constructing double standards
Last edited by fwiw on Wed Jan 22, 2020 2:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
... just my opinion, for what it's worth

Bundokji
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Re: Taxes = Theft?

Post by Bundokji » Wed Jan 22, 2020 10:24 am

Hi fwiw,
I think we should have this conversations, as I see Buddhists are divided on this issue, and it could be interesting to analyze why.
The "issue" itself is not clear. Do you know of any Buddhists who construct an argument linking the second precept to taxes?

If so, could you please provide links or explain this argument in your own words?

Thanks :namaste:
'Too much knowledge leads to scepticism. Early devotees are the likeliest apostates, as early sinners are senile saints.' – Will Durant.

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fwiw
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Re: Taxes = Theft?

Post by fwiw » Wed Jan 22, 2020 10:40 am

Bundokji wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 10:24 am
The "issue" itself is not clear.
Let's clarify it, then

Bundokji wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 10:24 am
Do you know of any Buddhists who construct an argument linking the second precept to taxes?
Yes, and I suspect some of them participate to this forum. Wait for the libertarian minded to drop in. I also have someone on French language discussion groups.

Bundokji wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 10:24 am
If so, could you please provide links or explain this argument in your own words?
I don't see myself going back to the threads and translating them. I suspect you will get some examples pretty soon here and I suspect they will look pretty much like this:

The position that taxation is theft, and therefore immoral, is a viewpoint found in a number of radical political philosophies. It marks a significant departure from conservatism and classical liberalism. This position is often held by anarcho-capitalists, objectivists, most minarchists, right-wing libertarians and voluntaryists.

Proponents of this position see taxation as a clear violation of the non-aggression principle.[1] Under this view, government transgresses property rights by enforcing compulsory tax collection, regardless of what the amount may be.[2][3] Some opponents of taxation, like Michael Huemer, argue that rightful ownership of property should be based on what he views as natural property rights, not those determined by the law of the state.[4]

...
Murray Rothbard argued in The Ethics of Liberty in 1982 that taxation is theft and that tax resistance is therefore legitimate: "Just as no one is morally required to answer a robber truthfully when he asks if there are any valuables in one's house, so no one can be morally required to answer truthfully similar questions asked by the state, e.g., when filling out income tax returns."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxation_as_theft

The page also has responses:

Liam Murphy and Thomas Nagel assert that since property rights are determined by laws and conventions, of which the state forms an integral part, taxation by the state cannot be considered theft. In their 2002 book, The Myth of Ownership: Taxes and Justice, they argue:

...the emphasis on distributing the tax burden relative to pretax income is a fundamental mistake. Taxation does not take from people what they already own. Property rights are the product of a set of laws and conventions, of which the tax system forms a central part, so the fairness of taxes can’t be evaluated by their impact on preexisting entitlements. Pretax income has no independent moral significance. Standards of justice should be applied not to the distribution of tax burdens but to the operation and results of the entire framework of economic institutions.[5]

Another justification of taxation is contained in social contract theory. Proponents argue that the public has democratically allowed people to accumulate wealth only with the understanding that a portion of that wealth would be allocated for public use. In their view, to accumulate wealth without taxation would be to violate this social understanding. They argue that since public infrastructure provides the foundation for wealth creation, a portion of economic gains should be used to fund basic provisions that provide for infrastructure and enhance economic growth.
... just my opinion, for what it's worth

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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Taxes = Theft?

Post by Kim O'Hara » Wed Jan 22, 2020 12:58 pm

fwiw wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 10:40 am
...The page also has responses:

...Another justification of taxation is contained in social contract theory. Proponents argue that the public has democratically allowed people to accumulate wealth only with the understanding that a portion of that wealth would be allocated for public use. In their view, to accumulate wealth without taxation would be to violate this social understanding. They argue that since public infrastructure provides the foundation for wealth creation, a portion of economic gains should be used to fund basic provisions that provide for infrastructure and enhance economic growth.
This is roughly my position. I reckon that we (all of us) have agreed that some of us (the government) should collect money from most of us to provide services to all of us which we couldn't or wouldn't effectively provide in other ways.

But I don't respond happily to injustices in the system. A government that taxes the poor heavily while the rich avoid and evade taxes doesn't earn my support.

:namaste:
Kim

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fwiw
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Re: Taxes = Theft?

Post by fwiw » Wed Jan 22, 2020 2:25 pm

Interesting analysis here:
Well-meaning [UK] public intellectual Alain de Botton encourages us to think of taxation as charity: we give up what’s ours for the greater good of our society.

So both sides tend to agree that one has some kind of right or entitlement to one’s pre-tax income. The economic right believe that the right to pre-tax income is inalienable, or at least that it is trumped only by the absolute necessity of providing the basic requirements of society, such as roads and rule of law. In contrast, the economic left tend to value the good of making society more equal, or of providing a basic standard of living for all, above the good of letting people keep their own money.

This feeling that your pre-tax income is ‘your money’ is difficult to shake. It’s hard not to see the pre-tax figure on your payslip as representing what’s really owing to you for the work you’ve done, and hence to feel that the state is taking away from you something that is yours by right. However, a little careful reflection shows this almost universal assumption to be utterly confused. There is no sense in which you have a right to your pre-tax income.

To see this, we have to ask what kind of right it might be supposed one has to one’s pre-tax income. Presumably, it is either a legal right or a moral right. Once we separate out these alternatives, we can see that the former option is incoherent, whilst the latter is utterly implausible.

You clearly don’t have a legal right to your pre-tax income, as you are legally obliged to pay tax on it. This is a simple analytic truth that follows from the definition of taxation. People who don’t take pay their taxes go (or at least legally ought to go) to gaol.

So if there is a general right to one’s pre-tax income, then it must be a moral right. But it is implausible to suppose that each person has a moral right to his or her pre-tax income, for that would imply that the distribution of pre-tax incomes the market happens to throw up is perfectly just, and this is clearly not the case. There is no justice in the fact that the pre-tax income of a City banker is many hundreds of times the pre-tax income of scientist working on a cure for cancer. This is just an accident of the way our market economy is structured. To hold that each person has a moral right to their pre-tax income would be to hold that the market economy just happens to deliver to each person exactly what they deserve, and this is clearly not the case.
... just my opinion, for what it's worth

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DNS
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Re: Taxation = Theft?

Post by DNS » Wed Jan 22, 2020 11:25 pm

Even the most conservative or Libertarian person still enjoys the benefits from taxes, including police protection, military protection, roads, schools, fire protection, etc., so arguably not paying taxes is the real theft.

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Re: Taxation = Theft?

Post by DNS » Wed Jan 22, 2020 11:27 pm

Perhaps a related issue, is not if there should be taxes, but at what point does it become counter-productive? For example, see the Laffer curve:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laffer_curve

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SethRich
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Re: Taxation = Theft?

Post by SethRich » Thu Jan 23, 2020 6:52 am

Greetings,
DNS wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 11:25 pm
Even the most conservative or Libertarian person still enjoys the benefits from taxes, including police protection, military protection, roads, schools, fire protection, etc., so arguably not paying taxes is the real theft.
Agreed. "Taxation is theft" just either just hyperbole, or the words of anarchists posing as libertarians.

:candle:
"Let us neither be perpetrators nor victims!" (DN26)

"Our civilization is at the point where we need to start discerning between 'Progression' & 'Regression'." (Kabamur)

:candle: "...his name was Seth Rich..."

Bundokji
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Re: Taxation = Theft?

Post by Bundokji » Thu Jan 23, 2020 11:38 am

DNS wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 11:27 pm
Perhaps a related issue, is not if there should be taxes, but at what point does it become counter-productive? For example, see the Laffer curve:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laffer_curve
I think this is the crux of the matter. Raising taxes does not necessarily translate into higher governmental revenue.

I can't see how there can be a central government without taxes.
'Too much knowledge leads to scepticism. Early devotees are the likeliest apostates, as early sinners are senile saints.' – Will Durant.

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fwiw
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Re: Taxation = Theft?

Post by fwiw » Thu Jan 23, 2020 6:52 pm

DNS wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 11:27 pm
Perhaps a related issue, is not if there should be taxes, but at what point does it become counter-productive? For example, see the Laffer curve:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laffer_curve
At 3:04 mark (start of the video) David makes the point that it all depends on on whom tax rates are lowered. Lowering them for the very rich is not going to be economically helpful whereas lowering taxes for the middle class and the poor will actually boost the economy because these people have unmet needs or wants for the sake of which they will directly contribute to the economy. For example, people will go more often to their local small-business restaurant if they can afford it.

Also they underline that we don't actually know where the maximum revenue falls, which makes it not so much of a practical tool for evidence-based policy making.


... just my opinion, for what it's worth

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