Emancipation from taxation
Monday, April 11, 2011
Beth Cody, Writers' Group member
Iowa City Press-Citizen

It is mid-April again, and along with warming weather comes the less happy time when our thoughts turn to … income taxes.

It's not just the annoyance of filling out forms and scraping to pay what we owe that angers people anymore either: We are increasingly aware of the burden of paying for our exponentially-growing federal, state and local governments.

And national worries about tax increases to pay our looming government debts are causing economic stagnation and unemployment.

But not everyone thinks taxes are something to worry about. Roberta Till-Retz's letter last month, ("Paying taxes as a love of country," March 15), vilifies those who favor cutting taxes to stimulate economic growth.

She equates paying taxes with patriotism and trying to cut taxes with treason. And "those who cheat, seek loopholes or" (even!) "speak of the 'tax burden' are worse than draft-dodgers," in her opinion.

But is it really unpatriotic to question policies that you believe are harming the nation and the citizenry in the long run?

 It is the nature of government to always expand, and taxation makes expansion possible, at the expense of our wallets and our freedom.
 Taxation also allows government to issue debt, based on promises to tax citizens even more in the future.
 Taxation begets special interests which vie to influence politicians for tax breaks or subsidies.
 Worst of all, taxation-enabled government spending leads many people to become dependent on government programs.

This corruption and dependence are slowly sapping the wealth and morale of our nation, and will likely lead to its collapse. Will this really benefit "We the People"?

But practical considerations aside, there is also the questionable morality of taxation: Thou shalt not steal – except government? Robbing Peter to pay Paul? Just because it is custom and law does not make it right, because laws are made by fallible, power-hungry men.

After all, slavery used to be protected by law. Many people didn't believe that society could function without slavery, as it had always been the custom nearly everywhere in the world – a "necessary evil" – just like taxes.

Some of us believe that being forced to hand over half our earnings to government – the average earner pays 42% of earnings in various taxes, plus indirect regulatory taxes – is only one step removed from slavery.

We (some people) have a choice whether to work or not, but if we do work, we are forced to hand over half of what we earn for the rest of our lives.

This means that we do not really own the product of our labor, which makes us something like slaves.

Those who like to spend other people's money claim that we have all chosen to be taxed because we live in a democracy. But leaving aside the question of how well "representative democracy" actually represents us, our unequally-applied system ("progressive" taxation) means that the majority of lower and average earners has voted to tax the minority of higher earners at higher rates.

This is like two wolves and a lamb deciding what's for dinner: it is fundamentally unjust.

And while most people erroneously believe that taxes are "the price of civilization," that government coercion is necessary for helping the poor, enabling art, parks, libraries and other good things, it is simply not true.

Wealthy societies demand these things, and we are wealthy because government allowed us to create wealth, largely by getting out of the way.

If government only did a few essential things (like police, courts and defense-only military), voluntary donations from patriotic citizens would more than cover these functions. Well-funded charities would help the less-numerous poor – a tax-free economy would have far more, better-paid jobs.

If you believe that taxation is damaging our nation's long-run survival, and is unjust and tyrannical by its very nature, it is hardly "treasonous" to oppose it – to dream of a day when our children will be emancipated from the slavery of taxation.