Today, I happened across this post by Hessianwithteeth, and thought it was worth a rebuttal. So:
The real issue is not ‘taxation.’ The real issue is the “income tax”. I’ve never come across anyone seriously arguing against sales taxes, they just specialize the use of the word ‘tax’ to refer to “income tax”. The reason that the “income tax” is objectionable is the same reason that I put it in quotes: it isn’t a real tax. A tax, you see, is a cost added by the government to a voluntary economic transaction. I was going to illustrate this with dictionary entries about the differences between tax, excise, levy, etc.; but the online dictionaries have actually re-defined the word ‘tax’ so that “income taxation” is not only included, it is written as the primary entry. Go figure.
In a free society, money represents the value of work performed for another person, and is given in the form of a wage (for this article, “salary” shall be considered the same as “wage”). The only alternatives to earning wages in a free society are 1) being entirely self-sufficient; 2) living entirely on the charity of others (inheritance would be self-sufficiency); or 3) starving to death. Earning wages, therefore, is not a ‘voluntary economic transaction’; it is necessary to continue living until self-sufficiency is achieved. Buying a car, on the other hand, is a voluntary activity; one can simply walk wherever one needs to go. Therefore, it is legitimate to tax purchases (or even real property, since one could avoid the tax at any time (and retain the value of the property) by selling the property.
But consider the implications of a third party laying first claim to the value of the work which you perform. The actual percentage taken in the “income tax” is irrelevant; once any other party (such as the Federal government) has established that they have a claim to your wages which supersedes your own claim, then they OWN your wages. They can take as much as they want, whenever they want. QED: the “income tax” today is many times higher than when it was established. To be blunt, a system in which someone else owns the value of your labor, whether they *allow* you to retain any portion of it or not, is properly known as “serfdom”.
As for the argument from consequence (“Can you imagine a world where everyone had to make their own piece of road?”), the United States of America functioned quite well from the founding of the first colonies until 1912—several hundred years—paying for everything with legitimate forms of taxation. We had schools, roads, a functional standing military, and everything else that a nation needed—all without imposing the condition of de facto slavery upon the population. Really, *what government revenue is used for*, while also worthy of serious examination, is a completely separate issue from *how that revenue is collected*.
Further, it is disingenuous to refer to “wealth redistribution” as if it were some modern form of charity or “giving to the community”. One cannot be charitable with someone else’s money. Nor is having something taken from you by force (try opting out of your “income tax”. It doesn’t work unless you’re Al Sharpton.) a form of “giving.” Charity is deliberate and personal donation of your own property to someone else. It is diametrically opposed to government social programs.
In short, anyone who says “I shouldn’t have to pay taxes” is wrong. However, so is anyone who supports the confiscation of earned wages under the false premise that it is “taxation.” The “income tax” was not established to strengthen the United States, nor to help any of its citizens; it was established to create a foothold for the politics of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and their ilk in the United States. It is the least efficient, least ethical, and most onerous method of generating revenue by design; and we should replace it with a valid system of taxation immediately.