Workers Party

Taxation Is Theft

A Discussion Paper published by:

The WORKERS PARTY
P.O. Box 685
Darlinghurst
N.S.W. 2010

[1975]

Price incl. bumper sticker 25c

TAXATION IS THEFT

The fundamental right of any individual is the right to life, sustained by freedom of choice, and the right to control the property he earns through his efforts or through voluntary exchange with other individuals. Any person has the right to defend, by force if necessary, his life, liberty and property. A man’s existence and what he has earned is not the property of others. Man is not a slave … he is not an animal to be sacrificed to the desires, whims or needs of other individuals. When the property of a man (his life, or that which sustains it) is taken from him by force, the action is known as THEFT.

If a man takes it upon himself to demand money of persons on the street and, if they refuse, to assault them and take their money by force, he is immoral and is a thief. The person robbed is clearly a blameless, innocent victim.

If, in search of bigger game, the same thief gathers a group of friends who label themselves the “syndicate” and then proceed to terrorise small businessmen until they turn over “protection” money upon demand, are the actions of this gang any less criminal simply because there are a dozen of them instead of only one? The only rational answer is that their actions are not any different. Robbery is robbery and murder is murder whether committed by one man or by dozens acting in concert.

Finding the “syndicate” at odds over splitting the loot, the thief may decide to take a job for a very large gang called the Taxation Department. He now declares that he is an agent of a larger group called “the government” and is empowered to seize money or property to satisfy debts incurred by “the government”. Instead of being labelled a THIEF our man is now called a TAX COLLECTOR. He now claims he isn’t taking the money for himself (though he is paid handsomely and has little risk) but is collecting for “the poor” or for “defence” or for “the men on the moon”. But is his action any more moral than when he was a lone thief or a member of the gangster “syndicate”?

Like the criminal, the “tax collector” is taking money or property which does not belong to him and which the victim does not choose to give voluntarily. If the victim voluntary supported the cause for which he was robbed, there would be no need to rob him in the first place. A criminal steals property and a tax collector does the same, throwing his victims into jail if they attempt to protect what is theirs.

It is irrelevant whether another man steals by his own authority or with the sanction of a million others; whether he takes money for himself or for “the poor” or for any other group which did not earn it. Theft consists of taking a man’s property against his will, regardless of the beneficiary. If the individual has an inalienable right to his own life, liberty and property then, morally, his life and property are his own to do with as he pleases. It is just as immoral for a government to attempt to tax his earnings, regulate his business or conscript his sons as it would be for some isolated individual action on his own authority to do so. The association of men into a group called “government” does not free them from morality or sanction actions which would otherwise be immoral.

Here arises the myth that “governments” are empowered to do things that individuals are not; that the majority has the right to rule over the minority. If carried to its logical extreme, this concept could lead to dictatorship and even to genocide. That which a government may properly do is no different in essence from that which individuals may do. Governments are nothing more than a collection of individuals organised for some purpose, preferably protection. If a single individual does not possess the right to do something then there is no way that an association of individuals can suddenly possess this so-called right. All that which is immoral for the individual to do is immoral for a group of individuals to do, no matter how lofty the ends they proclaim, or how divinely inspired they claim their association has to be.

Taxes on the Australian people are now estimated to be 60% of the average man’s income. If you are rich, or richer than most, you pay a lot more. The graduated income tax feature adds to the injustice of taxation and hits hard at those who, by their savings and their ability, have shown themselves to be the efficient satisfiers of the wants of man. Taxation is bad enough without adding special features which penalise the doers, the creators of wealth, the inventors, and the rest upon whom progress for all mankind depends.

Taxes are extorted for projects the “taxpayer” does not approve of. They cause dislocation of scarce economic resources and retard economic growth. They enable the state to carry on all manner of anti-freedom activities. They permit the state to manipulate persons, or special interest groups, by helping them or harming them by tax regulations. It has been stated truly that “The power to tax is the power to enslave”.

What is needed is not “tax reform” which is a euphemism for “tax him more and me less”; not more taxes on business which are always ultimately passed on to the consumers; not more taxes on more things or on “bad” things like cigarettes, poor housing, or luxury cars; not tariffs or savings bonds or deficit spending or inflation or any other gimmick that politicians pull to hide the magnitude of their theft from the wage earner. What is needed is an end to taxes!

It is argued that taxes are necessary to support the services of government. It is claimed that garbage would lie knee deep in the streets if trash removal wasn’t provided by government; that rapists would roam at will without government police on hand; that the commuter train and bus lines would cease to exist if turned back to private enterprise.

Why, we might ask, would men be so foolish to allow such services to cease without the government’s intervention? Do men go bare-foot because the shoe industry is still a private operation? Do men forget to report to their jobs every morning because the government does not yet provide them with alarm clocks? Of course not. It is ridiculous to assert that rational men would fail to voluntarily support services they need if they were not forced to do so. And it is ridiculous, as well as immoral, to force men to support services they do not use and do not value, just because one man or group of men think they know what is best for everybody else.

Government services performed today could be provided just as well by free enterprisers. People would pay for what they desired. No one person would be forced to work for the benefit of another (called slavery, you know) and no other person could expect to have that person work for him.

Taxation is theft and should be abolished. Government monopolies must be removed so that entrepreneurs can freely compete and make taxation unnecessary. Only then will people be able truly to enjoy the fruits of their labour.

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