Taxation may indeed be theft (or extortion)… but so what?


While the ultimate recognition of what should be obvious to all can amount to no more than the “booby prize”, it can be eye opening.   Taxation, like some form of government has existed in some fashion in all larger societies throughout human history.  The knowledge that taxation is theft is morally correct, but absent positive changes from this acknowledgment, this realization amounts to no more than the booby prize.

So, is taxation theft?  Simple answer… any demand to pay assets which does not have the consent of the payer is indeed morally some form of theft.  To many, the declaration that taxation is theft will elicit varied responses.  Many people will scoff, because they believe in the strict legal definition of theft and technically because government has made laws which allow this practice, taxation is not legally theft.  Others recognize the lack of consent and the possibility of violent punishment for not paying what is required of them so the theft definition makes perfect sense to them, regardless of the legal definition.

So, if taxation really is theft, then what are we supposed to do with this information?  Cancel all taxation immediately?  Society would immediately collapse.  Sure, you could keep all you would earn, but and any means to earn money would immediately disappear if society immediately ceased to exist.  Financial markets would collapse as well.  Some would be refreshingly amenable to the resulting barter system that would have to follow such a collapse, but the obvious reality would be that the resulting collapse of society would be a historical lesson that the ceasing of taxation in its entirety caused the destruction of society as a whole… seen as a serious mistake never to be repeated.

In the views of many, the personal pain and frustration caused to the individual by a tyranny minded government is excruciating, and it is extremely difficult to live with excruciating pain while thinking in a long term mindset of reduction of the cause of the pain, rather than immediate pain relief.  After being poked in the eye with a needle every minute for years, the idea of accepting being poked every hour instead of every minute will provide some peace of mind for some, but to others the pain needs to stop in its entirety… and right now!

Taxation supports tyranny; no doubt.  But it also goes to providing some services that most of us want or need.  Taxation according to many is also a double penalty.  To have money taken by force, to be spent to build infrastructure that hurts you is unbearable to those both paying and being harmed.  The straw that broke the camel’s back for many of us was that the money taken was used to create or sustain government entities which use those funds to finance wars for profit, crony capitalism, regulation that destroys jobs, laws that unfairly limit our liberties and the enforcement arms which physically destroy those adversely affected by these laws.

I, too, strongly believe that reform is urgently needed. Since the situation we have today did not happen overnight, it will also not disappear overnight.  The first step to a better life will be created by force.  Not the same force that many of us believe is inherent in government.  The force I am speaking of is the force of the people that can stand in unison and quickly remove the ability of government to repeatedly stab us in the eye at all… not just once per minute or once per hour.

Once the people notice that the removal of the constant stabbing in the eye promotes peace, they will also notice that they are saving money as well… and that trend will continue.  Let us get these steps in motion, and the path will lead us to the lowest amount of taxation (theft) necessary.  At the end of the path, we will have a happier, more peaceful and satisfied society which has learned that following their dreams is once again a reality… because the tyranny of government pushed us to the ultimate realization that taxation is indeed theft and that it is up to the people to force government to provide only the service and not the pain… or be replaced by a more voluntary system.

The pendulum is once again slowly swinging in the direction of liberty, and it is up to us to use this momentum prudently and effectively to achieve a freer society… before the pendulum begins its swing in the direction of tyranny once again.

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Steve Kerbel is a businessman, author, and former Libertarian Party candidate for President of the United States.


  1. I disagree with the assertion that eliminating all tax would result in an immediate collapse of society.
    First, the terms collapse and society are not well defined in the context of the article. Secondly, if a service provided by the government really does have value and there is demand for it, funding will be achievable. I think personally that we’d have to slowly ratchet down spending and taxation in the long run (good luck), but as the government pulls out of services, the private sector would pick up the slack, and any place that couldn’t happen, people would be able to voluntarily support the government through donations or volunteering their time directly.

    It would then become imperitive for the government to improve any services they do offer still if they expect to continue receiving our donations, resulting in those services improving in quality and decreasing in price.

    Furthermore, i don’t think the government should be taxing the people directly anyway. They should only tax a state directly and the state would then choose how much the citizens of that state would be paying in total. We’d have more control over the taxes we’re paying in each state and lower tax states would really prove the idea that lower taxes means more wealth and more revenue.

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