I was reading Murray Rothbard the other day and he reminded me about the way income taxes were collected up until World War II.
“… Before World War II, Internal Revenue collected the full amount, in one lump sum, from every taxpayer, on March 15 of each year. (A month’s extension was later granted to the long-suffering taxpayers.) During World War II, in order to permit an easier and far smoother collection of the far higher tax rates for financing the war effort, the federal government instituted a plan conceived by the ubiquitous Beardsley Ruml of R.H. Macy & Co., and technically implemented by a bright young economist at the Treasury Department, Milton Friedman. This plan, as all of us know only too well, coerced every employer into the unpaid labor of withholding the tax each month from the employee’s paycheck and delivering it to the Treasury. As a result, there was no longer a need for the taxpayer to cough up the total amount in a lump sum each year. We were assured by one and all, at the time, that this new withholding tax was strictly limited to the wartime emergency, and would disappear at the arrival of peace. The rest, alas, is history. But the point is that no one can seriously maintain that an income tax deprived of withholding power, could be collected at its present high levels. ~Rothbard
It is hard to believe that the people just paid their income tax out of their saving once a year is it not? It is hard to imagine what would happen today if the people had to cut a check each year for the total amount of their income tax burden.
Over my lifetime I have seen all sorts of arguments over taxes in this country. They have mainly dealt with how the government could extract the most money from the people. The entire idea behind Ronald Reagan’s reduction of marginal tax rates was to increase total revenue to the central government. Yes, that was not a misprint. The great tax reducer really was working on increasing the amount of taxes collected. During the Reagan administration, federal receipts grew from $618 billion to $991 billion which is an increase of 60% (according to Wikepedia). There has been too much talk about the type of taxation or its “fairness” and not nearly enough on the total amount extracted from the population. I have seen endless tinkering with tax types and tax rates but I have seen little to no talk about the idea of taxation itself.
According to Black’s Law Dictionary, a tax is a “pecuniary burden laid upon individuals or property owners to support the government [...] a payment exacted by legislative authority.” It “is not a voluntary payment or donation, but an enforced contribution, exacted pursuant to legislative authority” and is “any contribution imposed by government [...] whether under the name of toll, tribute, tallage, gabel, impost, duty, custom, excise, subsidy, aid, supply, or other name.” (source Wikipedia)
So just how much should be siphoned away from the producers by threat, intimidation, and the force of a gun? How much should the non-producers be allowed to steal from the productive via the theft called taxes?
Some sycophantic state worshipers will claim that taxation is not theft at all, but merely a “donation” made while having a gun pointed at your head. Sure, and those same people wonder how the US became an Empire that murders innocent women and children all over the world on a daily basis. Taxation is the theft that feeds the Evil Empire and enables its many horrors.
Frank Chodorov once wrote:
It will be seen that indirect taxation is a permission-to-live price. You cannot find in the marketplace a single satisfaction to which a number of these taxes are not attached, hidden in the price, and you are under compulsion either to pay them or go without; since going without amounts to depriving yourself of the meaning of life, or even of life itself, you pay. The inevitability of this charge on existence is expressed in the popular association of death and taxes. And it is this very characteristic that commends indirect taxation to the state, so that when you examine the prices of things you live by, you are astounded by the disproportion between the cost of production and the charge for permission to buy. …
The main lesson I have learned about taxes is that all taxation is robbery plain and simple. What else could it be? The dictionary tells me that robbery is the use of violence or threat of violence to to take a man’s property against his will. That is taxation in a nutshell.
I have heard some claim that taxation is really “voluntary”. That always makes me wonder if they are that stupid or if they are just blatant liars. On the off chance that they are just completely deluded I offer an experiment I read about long ago. Let us make the paying of all taxes really voluntary just like giving to the Church. Those who want to support the Empire may send all the money they want to and the rest of use can do with it as we please. Let us see how long that arrangement lasts before the state falls.
But taxation really is robbery as we all know, even the liars who will not admit it know it, so it then follows that anyone who is part of government is a thief. Any government worker at any level should be treated exactly like we would treat a mugger in the city. We can only hope that Karma delivers a just “reward” to anyone who works for the largest criminal gang on the planet.
There is no “fair tax” just as there is no “just murder”. Any taxation is theft and the proceeds of the crime goes to pay for even more crime — the murder of innocent men, women, and children worldwide.