Taxation as theft

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Loot and Extortion. Statues at Trago Mills, poking fun at the UK Inland Revenue Service.

The identification of taxation as theft is a viewpoint found in a number of political philosophies. Under this view, government transgresses property rights by enforcing compulsory tax collection.[1][2] Autarchists, anarcho-capitalists and objectivists see taxation as government violation of the non-aggression principle.[3]

Murray Rothbard argued in The Ethics of Liberty 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."[4][5]

Supporters of taxation usually assert that no such violation of rights is taking place. Supporters argue that "theft" must be considered in the context of the system of government in place.[6] One justification of taxation is contained in social contracts.[7] The general view is that taxation is required to fund basic provisions that enhance economic growth (i.e. law and order, transport/telecom/energy infrastructure) though some economists claim taxation is forced wealth distribution very similar to theft and just as crime it has a major negative impact on a country’s GDP.[8][9]

L.K. Samuels, in his book In Defense of Chaos, asserts that taxation must be voluntary or it violates the consent of the governed, the social contract and the democratic-republic form of governance. Referring to this dilemma as the “Rulers' Paradox”, he concurs with John Locke’s assertion that only individuals have rights, which are then loaned to governmental bodies for common defense and protection of rights. But as Samuels maintains, citizens cannot delegate rights to government that they do not have themselves. If the populace had the right to take assets away from other citizens with immunity, then that authority could be transferred to government for its democratic arsenal of policymaking. But such a right does not exist because to forcibly take money without consent is a victim-based crime, which is a punishable offense.[10][11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Edward Feser. "Taxation, Forced Labor, and Theft (The Independent Review, Fall 2000, pp. 219–235)". Retrieved 2012-07-10. 
  2. ^ Chris R. Tame. "Taxation Is Theft (Libertarian Alliance Political Note No 44, 1989)". Retrieved 2012-09-02. 
  3. ^ Frank Chodorov. "Taxation Is Robbery (, reprint from Out of Step: The Autobiography of an Individualist, by Frank Chodorov; The Devin-Adair Company, New York, 1962, pp. 216-239)". Retrieved 2012-07-10. 
  4. ^ Murray N. Rothbard. "The Moral Status Of Relations To The State, chapter 24 of The Ethics of Liberty (ISBN 0-8147-7506-3 Humanities Press 1982, New York University Press 1998)". Retrieved 2012-09-02. 
  5. ^ Murray N. Rothbard. "The State versus Liberty, excerpt from chapters 22-25 of The Ethics of Liberty (, 2007)". Retrieved 2012-09-02. 
  6. ^ Anthony E. Parent. "Is the income tax theft?". Retrieved 2012-12-11. 
  7. ^ Dave Johnson. "Tax Cuts Are Theft (, August 9, 2010)". Retrieved 2012-09-02. 
  8. ^ James Gwartney. "The Size and Functions of Government and Economic Growth (US Congress, Joint Economic Committee Report, April 1998)". Retrieved 2012-09-03. 
  9. ^ Walter E. Williams. "Government Theft, American Style (World Net Daily, 2008-08-06)". Retrieved 2012-09-03. 
  10. ^ L.K. Samuels, In Defense of Chaos: The Chaology of Politics, Economics and Human Action, Apple Valley: CA, Cobden Press, 2013, pp. 308-309.
  11. ^ L.K. Samuels, Paradoxes, Inconsistencies and Political Anarchists,, posted on April 17, 2013