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All taxation is forced confiscation of wealth

By Scott Tibbs, November 5, 2015

Let me defend, expand and explain this premise: All taxes are forced confiscation of wealth, backed up by armed agents of the state. This is a plain and simple reality. If you do not believe it, stop paying your property taxes. Eventually, the sheriff will kick you out of your property and that property will be sold in a tax sale. If you are self-employed and pay your own income taxes, stop paying them and the IRS will also come get you.

This does not mean I am an anarchist. Far from it. Civil government is a gift to us from God, for the protection of the righteous and the punishment of the wicked. We see this in Romans 13. For government to perform the functions needed for a civil society to exist - infrastructure, law enforcement, civil and criminal courts, fire protection and so forth - taxation is necessary. Therefore, taxation is a legitimate function of government and is part of the contract we have established as a society to maintain order.

So yes, I understand basic political theory. I have never said that I reject the premise. Not one single time. I understand the civil contract between the government and the citizens, among citizens themselves, and between units of government that have their own spheres of authority. I understand the theory that government operates by the consent of the governed. (How close that is to reality today is open for debate, and is not the point.) I do not believe and have never said that taxation itself is theft. Taxation can be theft in certain circumstances, but it is not automatically theft.

But we should not kid ourselves here: All taxes are mandatory. Most people do pay their taxes voluntarily and some are happy to pay them. But never forget that voluntary, peaceful compliance with forced confiscation of wealth does not mean it is not forced confiscation of wealth backed up by armed agents of the state. Even notorious gangster Al Capone went to prison for tax evasion.

Because we have formed a government to maintain a civil society and do the things collectively that individuals or private groups cannot or will not do, forced confiscation of wealth (taxation) itself is a necessary and morally neutral thing. But because of the immense power of the state, the power of the state must be measured and limited.

This is why buying a fire truck or building a road or a jail (for example) are legitimate uses of the authority to tax. It is wrong to force all citizens with strong religious and moral objections to the practice of abortion to donate to an abortion mill, even if those funds do not directly go to abortion services. This is not a legitimate or appropriate use of that state power, legal though it may be. And I would have said the same thing fifteen years ago if the city council was donating to the Boy Scouts over the objections of taxpayers unhappy with the group's policy on homosexual scout leaders.