Taxes

From Critiques Of Libertarianism
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Libertarians hate 'em! But minarchist libertarians (the vast majority) have no coherent answer to how to pay for even a minimal government. Libertarian and Republican criticisms of taxes usually overlap.

Links

Taxation Is Slavery (1 link)
A common libertarian theme, that interprets taxation of X% as slavery of X% of your time. The easy response is that you can emigrate: something slaves, serfs, peons and other chattel are not permitted. There is also a ridiculous "Lost Cause"/Sovereign Citizens theme that the 14th Amendment made all of us slaves to the federal government.
Taxation Is Theft (20 links)
A prize libertarian slogan that ignores facts of pre-existing ownership by government. Because government owns its territory, it gets to make rules like any other owner. See: A Non-Libertarian FAQ: 5.5 Taxation is theft. Taxation is also the price we pay for being part of a society. Libertarians want a free lunch from society, but conveniently forget the TANSTAAFL dictum that David Friedman likes to recite: There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. If you want to be free of society, go ahead and be a hermit.
It's my money! (12 links)
Short for "I earned it, so it is entirely my property." The most common libertarian complaint against taxation of income. Completely mistaken because (a) your income is not solely your product and (b) there might be many pre-existing claims against your income, including rents, alimony, tithes, debts, taxes, etc. Fallaciously used to claim "taxation is theft" and "taxation is slavery".
Progressive Taxes (7 links)
Suggested by Adam Smith, first implemented in the USA: reduces inequality and supported by economic theory. Libertarians are generally antitax, but when they tolerate taxation they tend to prefer regressive taxation that favors their rich sponsors. Progressive taxation means that as you earn more, you are taxed at a higher rate.
Property Taxes (3 links)
Most libertarians are opposed to property taxes. The Georgists and others have answers that libertarians are unable to rebut.
The Tax Prep Industry (3 links)
While libertarians complain about the complexity of filing taxes, they ignore that this feature is promoted by the tax preparation industry. Another example of privatizing profits by socializing costs.
Estate Tax (3 links)
Also known as inheritance tax and "death tax". An important tool for breaking up concentration of wealth. They worked very well for roughly 60 years in the USA. There is no good philosophical justification for inheritance of wealth.
Private Taxation (2 links)
Markets also produce their own forms of taxation. Credit cards, ATM fees, prescription drug purchasers and many others have hidden fees for third parties that operate just like taxes in creating deadweight losses. Government taxes are spent for public benefit offsetting deadweight losses, but private profit from hidden private taxes doesn't.
Tax Havens (4 links)
A method by which corporations and the rich are able to evade taxes through secrecy and international variations of laws, while ordinary people must pay their taxes. Unjust freeloading and invitations to government corruption.
Taxes And Growth (18 links)
Low taxes do not produce more growth, though democracy does. Successful reduction of poverty by tax-funded programs does not reduce growth either.
Supply-Side Economics (12 links)
A failed Reagan-era crank theory used to cut taxes and services. It promised a boom in productivity and never produced one. Instead, it created an ever-increasing concentration of wealth in the hands of the rich. Featuring the Laffer Curve. Also called voodoo economics and trickle-down economics. Considered a gross failure.
Cap And Trade (5 links)
A very successful "deregulation" strategy that replaces government regulation and Pigouvian taxes on harmful externalities with government-limited, salable rights to externalities. In other words, government power can create markets and use market mechanisms. This brings market efficiency to regulation; thus businesses hate cap and trade.
Agrarian Justice (book, online)
Thomas Paines' prescient proposal which advocated the use of an estate tax and a tax on land values to fund a universal old-age and disability pension, as well as a fixed sum to be paid to all citizens on reaching maturity.
Deficit (3 links)
Libertarians get all hot and bothered about government deficits. They are really just a form of borrowing, just like homeowners and businesses borrow. Rants about balanced budget amendments are simply ways they want to hamstring governments and cut taxes.
Don't Be Churlish About Taxes; Look To Scandinavia [More...]
" I suggest right here and now that we regain the framing on taxes. Especially in the age of Trump, we need to make tax evasion to be the act of someone who hates this country, not of being "smart."... Taxes are the costs for living in a society. We should want to make this nation a stronger society, not begrudge our contribution to the nation's collective happiness."
I’d Rather Be an Unlucky Ducky [More...]
Bruce Bartlett points out: "Oddly, one never hears Republicans [or libertarians] praise those countries where people are lucky duckies — those where taxation is a small fraction of what it is here."
Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies [More...]
Paul Krugman debunks 10 common conservative lies about taxes that libertarians have frequently used as well.
Ludwig von Mises Explains (and Solves) Market Failure [More...]
David Glasner points out that Hayek was not a libertarian and Mises supported conscription and taxes. "[Mises] says that voluntary self-defense will not work. Why won’t it work? Because the market isn’t working."
Matt Bruenig: How the property is coercive violence move functions in the debate [More...]
Because property is based on involuntary coercive violence, libertarians who would oppose taxation on those grounds would have to oppose property on the same grounds.
Matt Bruenig: The other move on property [More...]
If a libertarian admits property is based on involuntary coercive violence, they often seek to excuse it on the grounds that it is generally peaceful and we can live with it. But the same is true of taxation.
Milton Friedman: a study in failure [More...]
Milton Friedman's most successful influence in government policy was one he regretted: creating the income withholding tax.
State Taxes Have a Negligible Impact on Americans' Interstate Moves [More...]
"The available data, however, fail to support claims that much interstate migration is driven by high-income people -- or anyone else -- consciously choosing low-tax locations."
Tax Aversion and the Legacy of Slavery [More...]
"Instead of reflecting a heritage that valued liberty over all other concerns, they [antitax and antigovernment attitudes] are part of the poisonous legacy we have inherited from the slaveholders who forged much of our political tradition." A precis of Robin Einhorn's American Taxation, American Slavery.
Tax Cuts Are Theft: An Amplification [More...]
Tax cuts steal from the social institutions that have made us a prosperous society.
Tax Protestors And Other Pseudolaw Cranks (11 links)
There is strong overlap between libertarians and tax protestors. Tax protestors have amazing reinterpretations of laws and history that they claim justify independence from paying taxes. Sovereign Citizens, Constitutional Militiaas and Jury Nullification are some of the many other crank theories.
The Cost of Rights: Why Liberty Depends on Taxes (book, online)
Legally enforceable rights cost money, a fact ignored by many libertarian ideologues.
The Hidden Wealth of Nations: The Scourge of Tax Havens (book, online) (1 link)
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The Myth of Ownership: Taxes and Justice (book, online) (5 links)
Explains property rights as government creations, and taxes as part of property.
The Triumph of Injustice: How the Rich Dodge Taxes and How to Make Them Pay (book, online)
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Tom the Dancing Bug: They were... Socialist Invaders from the Future! [More...]
The mainstream socialist plans of 2019 look weak compared to the reality of the 1950s.
Why Americans Don’t Cheat on Their Taxes [More...]
The weirdly hopeful story of how the U.S. came to be a leader in tax compliance. "The majority of Americans (88%) say it is not at all acceptable to cheat on taxes; this ethical attitude is not changing over time."

Quotations

It may be laid down as a primary position, and the basis of our system, that every Citizen who enjoys the protection of a free Government, owes not only a proportion of his property, but even of his personal services to the defence of it, and consequently that the Citizens of America (with a few legal and official exceptions) from 18 to 50 Years of Age should be borne on the Militia Rolls, provided with uniform Arms, and so far accustomed to the use of them, that the Total strength of the Country might be called forth at a Short Notice on any very interesting Emergency[...]
George Washington, "George Washington, Sentiments on a Peace Establishment"
Separate an individual from society, and give him an island or a continent to possess, and he cannot acquire personal property. He cannot be rich. So inseparably are the means connected with the end, in all cases, that where the former do not exist the latter cannot be obtained. All accumulation, therefore, of personal property, beyond what a man’s own hands produce, is derived to him by living in society; and he owes on every principle of justice, of gratitude, and of civilization, a part of that accumulation back again to society from whence the whole came.
Thomas Paine, "Agrarian Justice"
Taxes are not, however annoying they may seem, violations of our freedom so much as indispensable enablers of freedom -- and hence they are a precondition for the constitution of the very experience of the "voluntary" on which notions of the involuntary depend in the first place.
Dale Carrico, "Dispatches from Libertopia: An Anthology of Wingnut Chestnuts and Democratizing Remedies"
Those who declare taxes to be theft either forget or fail to grasp that it is taxes that pay for the maintenance of those institutions on which legitimate claims of ownership or theft depend for their intelligibility and force in the first place.
Dale Carrico, "Dispatches from Libertopia: An Anthology of Wingnut Chestnuts and Democratizing Remedies"
The maintenance of a government apparatus of courts, police officers, prisons, and of armed forces requires considerable expenditure. To levy taxes for these purposes is fully compatible with the freedom the individual enjoys in a free market economy.
Ludwig von Mises, "Human Action: The Scholar's Edition"
From this point of view one has to deal with the often-raised problem of whether conscription and the levy of taxes mean a restriction of freedom. If the principles of the market economy were acknowledged by all people all over the world, there would not be any reason to wage war and the individual states could live in undisturbed peace. But as conditions are in our age, a free nation is continually threatened by the aggressive schemes of totalitarian autocracies. If it wants to preserve its freedom, it must be prepared to defend its independence. If the government of a free country forces every citizen to cooperate fully in its designs to repel the aggressors and every able-bodied man to join the armed forces, it does not impose upon the individual a duty that would step beyond the tasks the praxeological law dictates. In a world full of unswerving aggressors and enslavers, integral unconditional pacifism is tantamount to unconditional surrender to the most ruthless oppressors. He who wants to remain free, must fight unto death those who are intent upon depriving him of his freedom. As isolated attempts on the part of each individual to resist are doomed to failure, the only workable way is to organize resistance by the government. The essential task of government is defense of the social system not only against domestic gangsters but also against external foes. He who in our age opposes armaments and conscription is, perhaps unbeknown to himself, an abettor of those aiming at the enslavement of all.
Ludwig von Mises, "Human Action: The Scholar's Edition"
We may observe that the government in a civilized country is much more expensive than in a barbarous one; and when we say that one government is more expensive than another, it is the same as if we said that the one country is farther advanced in improvement than another. To say that the government is expensive and the people not oppressed is to say that the people are rich. There are many expenses necessary in a civilized country for which there is no occasion in one that is barbarous. Armies, fleets, fortified places, and public buildings, judges, and officers of the revenue must be supported, and if they be neglected, disorder will ensue.
Adam Smith, "Lectures on Justice, Police, Revenue and Arms (1763)"
What’s amusing about libertarians and laissez-faire people (and the loose way certain economists talk) is that they will describe my choice to pay rent as non-coerced and voluntary while describing my choice to pay income taxes as coerced and involuntary. But there is no neutral construction of “coercion” that would ever support such a distinction. As Hale aptly demonstrates, coercion occurs when there are “background constraints on the universe of socially available choices from which an individual might ‘freely’ choose.”
Matt Bruenig, "Libertarians Are Huge Fans of Economic Coercion"
There are other reasons to think that Hayek went too far in his opposition to progressive tax rates. First, he assumed that earned income accurately measures the value of the incremental contribution to social output. But Hayek overlooked that much of earned income reflects either rents that are unnecessary to call forth the efforts required to earn that income, in which case increasing the marginal tax rate on such earnings does not diminish effort and output. We also know as a result of a classic 1971 paper by Jack Hirshleifer that earned incomes often do not correspond to net social output. For example, incomes earned by stock and commodity traders reflect only in part incremental contributions to social output; they also reflect losses incurred by other traders... Insofar as earned incomes reflect not incremental contributions to social output but income transfers from other individuals, raising taxes on those incomes can actually increase aggregate output.
David Glasner, "Neo- and Other Liberalisms"
Every idiot who advocates shirking by chanting "taxes are theft" bloviates as to how they have no obligation to contribute to the common good from which they benefit.
Gene Callahan, "No, Plato Did Not Think Taxes Were Some Sort of Permitted Theft"
[...] the idea that people have full liberal property rights in their pre-tax income is unwarranted. They participate in a co-operative venture with others in society subject to certain conditions, and those conditions include one that part of “their income” already belongs to the wider society, via the state. This point, hated by libertarians, defeats the widespread view that people are having “their money” taken off them: it wasn’t theirs to start with.
Chris Bertram, "Squeezing the rich is good: even when it raises no money"
We are willing to pay hefty premiums to private HMOs, but not the taxes to finance a national healthcare system[...] We tolerate the hardball nastiness of the private collection agency but work ourselves into a rage at the very idea that the IRS will get serious about tax evasion.
Robin Einhorn, "Tax Aversion and the Legacy of Slavery"
Many entrepreneurs hold the opinion that “I did it all on my own,” which may be well adapted to leadership success in certain situations, but it is objectively myopic. The entrepreneur relies on an ecosystem of venture capitalists, risk-taking purchasers, and so on. This ecosystem itself rests on a deeper foundation of collective, government-led enterprise. The delivery of our software, for example, depended on the existence of the Internet, which is the product of a series of government-sponsored R&D efforts, in combination with subsequent massive private commercial development. Government funding has been essential to much of the university science that entrepreneurs have exploited. Honest courts and police are required for functioning capital markets and protection of assets; physical infrastructure is required for the roads and running water without which we would not spend much time thinking about artificial intelligence software. At the absolute foundation, national armed forces protect the whole system against external aggression. All of our exciting technical and economic innovations ultimately require men to stand watch all night looking through Starlight scopes mounted on assault rifles—and die if necessary—to protect our commercial, law-bound society. Would you do this to protect a billionaire hedge-fund manager who sees his country as nothing more than lines on a map?
Jim Manzi, "Uncontrolled: The Surprising Payoff of Trial-and-Error for Business, Politics, and Society"