Tax Day 2018: Taxation Is or Isn’t Theft?
Tax Day 2018 always brings out the cries of “Taxation is Theft!” from many, especially some of our friends in the libertarian/conservative contingent. But is it, and where on the spectrum of “taxes are too low for the social contract to be effective” to “taxation is theft and oppressive forced funding of tyrannical government” should we be aspiring to with tax policy? As in all things, opinions vary.
Representative of some on social media on Tax Day 2018 is Charlie Kirk with his deep thoughts on the matter:
Taxation is theft
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) April 17, 2018
MJFleck, from last years Tax Day, goes against the libertarian grain with a nay:
You work your ass off, then the government forces you through laws enforced by government agents to cough up a certain percentage and give it to Uncle Sam. Now, here’s the interesting part: you do get a return on your investment. Granted, it’s a forced investment, and the returns you get back may not always be what you particularly endorsed or asked for, but you do get something back. Therefore, by definition, taxation is not theft. And when libertarians go around claiming that it is all the time, it harms the movement. Why? Because as a growing activist movement we want–need–intellectuals on our side. People who are smart, eloquent, savvy, and educated. People with influence. People with respected professions and public visibility (the good kind, of course). And the cold, hard truth of the matter is that smart people already know that taxation is not theft, and calling it theft (especially going so far as to compare it to outright armed robbery) will only continue to deter those who actually know how taxation works.
And of course, some think that taxation is not only proper, but underutilized, as argued by Paul Waldron:
In your average social democratic European country, you pay more taxes, but you also get a lot in return: universal health coverage, free child care, generous paid family leave, and free college, for example. If you’re Danish or French or German, there are certain things you just don’t have to worry about, things that keep us Americans up nights.
All of that is a choice. We choose to make health care a privilege, not a right. We choose to pay teachers so little they’ve been forced to walk off the job. We choose to have high rates of child poverty, and some of the highest levels of inequality in the industrialized world. Those are choices we make, and they start with how much we’re willing to raise in taxes.
So as Tax Day 2018 winds down, where do your thoughts fall on this 229th year of American taxation with representation?