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Is Taxation Theft?

Yesterday we had a lively discussion on our Facebook page that ended up delving into topics such as the privatization of the oceans and the viability of anarcho-capitalist societies, to the point that I almost forgot how the discussion began. The initial topic was whether government taxation should be thought of as “theft”. While some of our readers likened it more to “extortion”, but most seemed to generally agree that taxation is an act of theft.

Of course this was no scientific double-blind study, and I would imagine that people who read this site and might follow us on Facebook are probably more inclined to hold this view than the average fella. I’ve had many discussions with ”big government” friends where they just can’t seem to admit that taxation is theft, and will vehemently deny that it is the same thing. Phrases like “social contract” - I don’t remember signing anything, do you? - will be tossed out in discussions like these, but never a coherent explanation as to just why taxation is any different than theft.

The fine folks at Merriam-Webster define theft as:

a : the act of stealing; specifically : the felonious taking and removing of personal property with intent to deprive the rightful owner of it

b : an unlawful taking (as by embezzlement or burglary) of property

Government has done a fine job of negating parts of the definition of theft by codifying under the cover of law its ability to tax the citizenry. Let’s try looking at this definition again after removing the words “felonious” and “unlawful”.

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One way of funding government that would be not be theft

would be voluntary contributions, just like we contribute to charities. That way there would not be a question of taxes being theft since there wouldn't be any, and we would get the amount of government we were really willing to fund.

What other organization takes wealth from us against our wills and says they have a right to do so even though we have no contractual obligation to pay them? If the American Red Cross did what the government does to get money, they would be charged with a crime, so I would say that taxes are theft.

"Bend over and grab your ankles" should be etched in stone at the entrance to every government building and every government office.

Is taxation theft?

Does a hobby horse have a hickory deek ?

It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people that pay no price for being wrong.
Thomas Sowell

Taxation is theft when

Taxation is theft when coercion is involved. Taxation can be theft to some, voluntary payments for services to others. Whether an individual considers taxes to be theft or not can also depend upon how they are used.

Personally, the taxes I pay to fund the war machine that muders people, or those that are used to lock people up for taking drugs - those taxes I pay unwillingly, and thus I am being theived from. Other taxes, for instance those used to pay for roads and bridges and legitimate police work and judges - while I'd rather have more than one choice of service provider for these services - I'm okay with paying for these services so it's not theft. It still sucks that I don't have other choices, but it's not accurate to call it theft.

I must be willing to give up what I am in order to become what I will be. Albert Einstein

sorry but...

tithes, dues and charity (gift) are voluntary. a tax, by definition, is never voluntary.

1: to assess or determine judicially the amount of (costs in a court action)
2: to levy a tax on
3 obsolete : to enter (a name) in a list
4: charge, accuse ; also : censure
5: to make onerous and rigorous demands on

by definition, tax is an involuntary loss of something as a result of outside forces...

if you voluntary pay what someone DEMANDS of you for fear of repercussion, that is not "voluntary", that is "ultimatum".

paying for goods and services you receive is called capitalism, barter or free market not taxation. Roads are shared property lines, called "Right of way easements" they are owned by the respected property owners, not the states. they should be maintained by the people who utilize the road the most. Do you really want to know who would PAVE, not CREATE, our roads if we weren't taxed? places like walmart, krogers, best buy, gander mountain etc will pave the routes that they take to deliver goods to their stores from their warehouses. they will also pave the areas around their shops to ensure customers have a good experience visiting. if they don't and people still show up, then we don't need pavement. after all, pavement IS a luxury. the roads have always existed as long as property lines.

it is accurate to call it theft. read the definition.

I use Blue Wave, but don't expect one of THEIR silly taglines.

legal often

does not equate to lawful

If taxation is not theft,

If taxation is not theft, then how many votes does it take to turn stealing into collecting taxes? And how many other crimes can be voted out of existance?

Malo Periculosam Libertatem Quam Quietum Servitium
On y soit qui mal y pense

if your logic holds, than the

if your logic holds, than the execution of a convicted murder is itself murder. the votes of the jury and of the public don't matter. you are saying that all killing is murder, as all taking is theft, regardless of the law. this is not sound reasoning. words have meanings and it doesn't serve any of us to not respect that.

apples and oranges?

taking something from someone without their consent is theft.

killing someone who has not been convicted of a crime is murder.

killing someone who has been convicted, "voluntarily gave up all their rights when they violated another persons", is NOT murder.

Murder describes a specific type of killing.
just as Tax describes a specific kind of taking.

not all killing is murder but all murder is killing.
not all taking is tax but all tax is taking.

I use Blue Wave, but don't expect one of THEIR silly taglines.

taking something from someone

taking something from someone without their consent can be many things. tax, theft, repossession, contractual penalty (foreclosure), legal settlement in a law suit, a divorce, a bill for services rendered (emergency services).

all of these circumstances can involve the non consent of the party from whom the thing (funds) are taken. none are theft per se. theft is a legal term, if something is taken by law, like a tax, than it is not theft by definition. if the people rise up and say this tax is unjust, then they can say it is theft rhetorically and make it illegal in fact, by overthrowing the taxing power.

if they choose not to do so, then they implicitly accept the law as it stands and become contractual parties to it.

as for killing not being murder if the person killed has been convicted of a crime, you're saying the decision of 7 or 12 people (12 votes) can take a persons life, justly. if 12 people can take a persons life justly, then laws passed by millions approving taxation make the tax just (and not theft). if you accept the principle that a consensus of jurors or voters makes something "not murder" than why not also "not theft."

examine your logic for inconsistency.

i would agree that tax is theft, with the proviso that the taxed party is not permitted to leave the coercive jurisdiction.

if you have to change the

if you have to change the definition of theft to make your case, you don't have a case. it may be taking, and it may be killing. but theft and murder are legal terms. lawful taking and lawful killing are not theft and murder.

why not just say the government takes and kills. that would be perfectly accurate. if the government executes a criminal, do we say the government murdered the person?

any serious thinker realizes and understands the coercive nature of taxation, in any system of government. the need to call it 'theft' is just a way of tacking on an emotional and moral connotation that exists in your viewpoint. it does not necessarily exist in someone else's viewpoint.

Please explain "lawful taking"

Can I just say that something is "lawful" and therefore it is lawful. Can I take your car or home and deem it to myself that it is "lawful" because I say it is. Taxation is theft, stealing, whatever you want to call it, legal term, or not.

No, you can't.

No, you can't.


You'll notice that according to BILL3, no German, Chinese, or Russian acting on behalf of "government" ever murdered anyone, because those were all legal killings of criminals. Lovely philosophy you've got there BILLY BOY.

lol. you can moralize it all

lol. you can moralize it all you want. words have definitions. murder is illegal homicide. you can use the phrase as hyperbole, and we all get what you mean. you mean you morally disapprove of the killing. so you want to use the most emotionally charged phrase. that's fine. but definitions still matter. we all agree that the government takes and kills. every government takes and kills. but not everyone will agree that this is theft and murder, if they feel it is justified. that expression of something being justified is usually reflected in the thing being legal. yes, it is true that massive injustices can take place legally. and it is up to the people to overthrow such acts not compatible with what they feel should be legal. but that is a special case. that is not the same as saying that all taking and all killing is automatically murder and theft.


No one (and certainly not me) has said that all killing is murder. Your attempt at thinking just failed there.

What you *have* said is that you are unable to recognize murder unless your government tells you what it is. That admission should be the end of any credibility you ever thought you might have had. If that is not a definitive declaration of moral bankruptcy, then there can be no such thing.

Note well: BILL3 is unable to identify murder without the help of his overlords.

This is the end to which he brings all those who listen to his rhetoric.

useless comment

The government does not take or kill, only individuals take and kill.

Some individuals take and kill under the delusion that they are acting as agents of the imaginary entity called government. If such an individual kills, for example, it may be that the killing was justified. Then it is not murder. Murder is not a legal term and legality has nothing to do with it. Much more often, those laboring under the delusion of government kill without justification---usually they kill people who are trying to defend themselves against aggression also resulting from the delusion. In this case, those individuals, thinking that their actions are legally sanctioned and therefore "OK," make the mistake of committing murder. Such people also routinely commit theft and a host of other crimes.

lol. murder is a legal term.

lol. murder is a legal term. you don't get to make up your own definitions. we are trying to have a language, here.

and this is just dumb: "...only individuals take and kill... the imaginary entity called government.

there is no dailypaul, only individuals. the dailypaul is an imaginary entitiy.

there is no MLB, only individuals with bats.
there is no insurance company, only individuals.
there is no NSA, only individuals.
there is no species called Lions, only individuals.
there is no such thing as men or women, only individuals.
everything is imaginary if its not an individual.

Yes, no, and no

We are trying to have a language here, and your incorrect definition is not helping anything. Everyone can recognize murder without any consideration of legality. Murder is *wrong killing.* It is the *wrongness* that makes killing murder, not the fact that it has been declared so (or declared otherwise) by a particular bunch of psychopaths, i.e., illegal killing.

Is MLB an entity? Perhaps it is in the sense that it designates a certain group of individuals, but I'm not sure that's the case. Exactly who are the individuals who are Major League Baseball? No one can answer that. MLB is certainly not an entity which can have an opinion or take an action, though people may speak as if that's the case. Really, MLB is an idea qualifying the sport of Baseball. Baseball is clearly not an entity. It is a sport, i.e., a collection of rules according to which people waste time. It is an *idea*.

Government is not an entity at all. It is a false idea. It is the idea that certain people, by doing certain retuals (voting, wearing costumes, carrying badges, pointing at papers---constitutions, code books, etc.) can participate in *wrong* activities, and by virtue of having done those rituals those activities become magically OK.

Government is an absolutely insane idea, entertained by almost everyone. It's also an idea which leads to other crazy situations, like you claiming that you can't recognize murder. It's time to drop the insanity, and face reality.

Wealth Distribution

Its a wealth distribution scheme to maintain control over the economy. Power is the ultimate goal.

For some that means being the victim of theft and for others it means being the victim of dependence on benefits received.

The victims change and so does the intensity of the appropriations.

Everybody loses just for participating. Some financially and others morally.

I'll lay it out rather simply

Any taxation that is compulsatory, or involuntarilly enforced is theft in principle.

This doesn't mean that taxation can't be more ethically instituted though, I'd advocate voluntary taxation and possibly certain usarry taxes.


There is no such thing as usury.

Usury is lending with the

Usury is lending with the expectation or knowledge that it cannot be paid back, and with the intent to seize the collateral. Much of the lending that took place in the more static economies of the middle ages, to desperate persons, often just for consumption items, which could not expect reasonably to be paid back, was considered usury. Excessive interest rates on consumer loans, traditionally offered by loan sharks because of their illegality, were called usurious. Loans that can only be profitably made if the lender can then resort to violently seizing the property or even the person of the borrower can be called usurious. Usury is a valid historical and economic concept.

Usury vs. Stealing

Usury is lending with the expectation or knowledge that it cannot be paid back

Then borrowing is taking money with the expectation that you will not pay it back, which means it's stealing.

i don't really disagree

i don't really disagree there. but most people don't realize that a lot of the shady lending that went on in the middle ages was used to trap desperate or stupid people into debts they could not pay, and the lender then had the ability to go and seize their property violently. this kind of thing also went on all through the ancient world. the gradual accumulation of all the agricultural land by lending in famine and then seizing the land when the debt couldn't be paid. that is where the periodic debt forgiveness (jubilees) and periodic land redistribution emerged from. that this kind of thing was suppressed by a church that was heir to the experience of the whole ancient world should not be surprising. things are of course different now. but even today we have bankruptcy laws. we don't allow debtors to contract to an agreement that allows them to be beaten or imprisoned, etc.

"Fees" are one thing, "taxation" is theft

Services are paid for voluntarily when the service is rendered, as a fee.

I could make the argument that gasoline taxes are really fees as long as the gas tax revenue only goes to maintain roads. I could also argue that hybrid car owners and electric car owners need to pay more fees.

Fire and police services could be (and often are) described as related to property, and could possibly be considered insurance (so that the service is rendered even if you never call them). That tax on property could be considered a fee, although there should be an "opt-out" permitted. If your insurance company (and the mortgage co.) are willing for you to opt-out, you might go without the service, I suppose.

The money the government takes to fund undeclared wars is stolen and extorted, flat out. There's no way I would voluntarily pay to drone anyone, anywhere. It's like shooting animals with bazookas from a helicopter--unsporting.

What do you think? http://consequeries.com/

Taxes pay interest on the debt.

The money government spends is borrowed. Congress owes $17 Trillion and an annual interest charge.

Government has not paid down the National debt since 1880. Congress has only increased the debt owed creditors.

The creditors call the tune and Congress dances; "The Borrow more and owe more interest Jig".

Free includes debt-free!


Is the short answer. I've never understood the taxation is "theft" argument. Services are rendered and you pay for that. If you don't wish to pay for it you can either not engage in a taxable activity or you can find another service provider. Frankly, not paying your taxes is more akin to theft as you are receiving the benefits without paying.

As a note, this is all theoretical as a government that is oppressive or not providing the services they say they will is obviously stealing. The above assumes a properly functioning government agreed upon by the citizens.


"If you don't wish to pay for it you can either not engage in a taxable activity or you can find another service provider"

Who is this "other service provider"? Another government that will also tax you against your will?

It is not a "service" if it is not rendered voluntarily. If someone comes and fills my car up with gas against and says "now you owe me $1000...that's the price I'm charging and you need the gas..if you don't pay, you go in a cage"

How is government "service" any different?

*Advancing the Ideas of Liberty Daily*

Not really. You know the

Not really. You know the costs. You are taxed if you engage in taxable activity such as buying something, owning property, or working. A 10 year old, for example, does not engage in any of those activities and is not taxed.

I don't believe in anarchy and that is what the "tax is theft" crowd is advocating.

the costs

You know the costs.

A third party is coming between two people making a trade. They interfere and impose a cost. You do realize that you're condoning violence and theft?

According to your reasoning, the mafia is justified when it receives protection money, because the shop owner new in advance about the costs, and the shop owner also had the choice not to engage in business in that area.