Is Taxation Theft?

Philip Goff presents a strong argument published on Aeon as to why taxation is not theft, primarily because it is based on false assumptions about the morality of property ownership.

I have written a lot of short pieces addressing this question (the answer is always no). But this piece for Aeon magazine is the most extensive thing I’ve written so far, and goes into much more detail about the nature of ownership. I’m always amazed at how much this stuff angers people. I’ve been enjoying […]

via Is Taxation Theft? (and why the answer matters..) — Conscience and Consciousness


9 thoughts on “Is Taxation Theft?

  1. All practical rights arise by agreement. We agree to respect and protect a right to property for each other. By respect, I mean we don’t take each others stuff. By protect, i mean we pass laws against theft and call the police when someone is stealing our neighbor’s car.

    We have, by agreement, constituted a nation. And we have, by agreement, given our government the right to tax us to pay for services it provides. This means that the money we owe in taxes is not our property, but rightfully belongs to our government.

    To call taxes “theft” is wrong in two ways. First, it is obviously false. Second, it dishonors us, showing us as people who will not keep to their agreements.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Listening to your youtube, it seems you have issues of “style” with both authors. That can be entertaining, but not especially to me. The one issue of content you brought up was the missing moral theory. But rather than address that, you took the “safe ground” of dismissing them all as matters of personal taste.

        So, let me provide the missing piece. Morality seeks the best good and least harm for everyone. We call something “good” if it meets a real need that we have as an individual, as a society, or as a species. The reason behind our rights, and the rules we create to define and protect them, is to achieve the best good and least harm for everyone. That is the underlying objective that allows us to compare any two rules or actions to determine which is morally best. To the extent that we can objectively measure the benefits and harms, our moral judgment is objective.

        Hope that helps.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Marvin, I responded to this Utilitarian perspective in a separate response. I actually like the work of Rawls and am a self-declared SJW, but my liking something is surely not a basis for some broader system. I am not a fan of Nozick’s work, even his work before he turned to Libertarianism.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, and the 16th amendment to the same constitution changed this. Moreover, just because a country or a few countries make some law, it does not invalidate the core question. There are laws on the books making otherwise legal things illegal and vice versa. The law is not the place to get to the bottom of anything.


  3. Here is something I don’t get: If direct taxes were prohibited, why were the states recorded as having ratified the 16th Amendment, when they did not do so properly? The income tax was sold as targeting only the rich. Bullshit. It affects everyone to some degree.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jeffrey, I have heard the ‘not ratified properly’ argument before, but I am not sure how credible the argument is. I’ve also heard that the creation of US Constitution was beyond the scope of powers of the Constitutional convention, but in the end, it’s a power game, and the people have lost and will always do so.

      As for the original tax being 1% and targeting the rich, this was a way to get a foot in the door and kick it open, but none of this talks to the morality of the issue.


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