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Is taxation theft?
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Not according to Social Contract Theory

When we as citizens elect our officials, we are entering a social contract with them and entrusting them with running our society. Them choosing to tax us is not thievery because we willingly give them the power to do so.

The Argument

According to Rousseau, “what man loses by the social contract is his natural liberty and an unlimited right to everything he tries to get and succeeds in getting.” The focus is primarily upon the idea that personal interests are sacrificed for the common good. Through the social contract theory, taxation is an exchange of goods in return for a service; a contract that is reciprocal. Taxation is a forfeit of economic independence with the promise of prosperity by the state. Through the social contract theory, a taxpayer's money is put towards this goal of maximizing prosperity. Tax evasion would therefore be a violation of the law as the burden falls upon responsible taxpayers and affects budget allocation. The assumption, under the social contract, is that the taxpayer’s freedom lies with the government who are composed of elected individuals. When citizens elect the government, we enter a social contract with them; they rule our society in the way they believe best, and we allow ourselves to be ruled. For many elected rulers, that includes taxation. By electing rulers who support taxation, we agree to subject ourselves to said taxation. Under this argument, the consent of the people is presupposed, eliminating the idea of taxation as a “theft.” Taxation cannot be considered theft if taxpayers play an active role in bringing it to fruition.

Counter arguments

Though this argument reigns true for those who choose to live and participate in a taxpaying society, not everyone chooses that. Some people are born somewhere with no ability to leave, or some do not support or actively participate in the taxpaying society (examples include living off the grid, not voting). Not everyone has the access or desire to actively participate; if we are forced to live in a taxpaying society, we are not doing so by choice, and thus not willfully entering the social contract. Therefore, taxation is theft because we are forced into it.



Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Wednesday, 10 Jun 2020 at 13:33 UTC

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