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Moral Problems of Taxes

Nobody likes paying taxes.  (I’m fairly certain of this.  I’ve never been told by anyone that they enjoy or look forward to paying taxes.)  Everybody thinks their taxes are too high and/or some other group should be paying higher taxes. (This might not be 100% true, but just go ask your friends if they think their taxes are too high.)

Many people complain about some other portion of society (usually “the rich”) not paying their fair share.  Which brings me to my first moral problem of taxes: what is one’s “fair share”?  Who determines what my “fair share” is and why don’t I get a say in it?

Bottom line, taxes are generally determined by someone other than the ones actually being taxed.  If the whole point is fairness, shouldn’t we require a little more unanimity before levying taxes on people?

Secondly, who is responsible for collecting and enforcing the payment of these taxes?  The government, of course.  And what will the government do to you if you don’t pay your taxes?  Either appoint you to the President’s Cabinet or throw you in jail, but most likely the latter.   Hmm…your money or your life…sounds more like an alley thug than a government that protects the rights of the people.

Thirdly, who determines how tax dollars are spent?  Again, the government.  Politicians think they know better than you do what is good for you.  I’m pretty sure I know better what I need in my unique situation than some guy in Washington that has never met me.  Yet government continually treats us like we are children who don’t know how to take care of ourselves.

Now to move on to some specific taxes, such as the property tax.  You’ve worked really hard to buy a house, and now you have one, all paid for.  But you stop paying your property taxes.  What will the government do?  Take your house away.  So what the government is really saying, is that your house isn’t really yours.  Really it belongs to the government, and they’re just letting you have it for a while.

The same goes for income taxes.  If the government has the authority to take money out of your pay before you even see it, then it isn’t really yours.  You are working for the government, and they are gracious enough to pay you.

There are many more things that can be said about the flaws of taxes, but here I’m sticking to just the moral problems: taxes (at least the way they are currently administered) mean the government owns you, can do what they like with you, and if you don’t like it, too bad.

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6 Comments

  1. I’m sorry to disagree with your premise, but my taxes are not too high, and our taxes in general in the US are low compared to most of the developed world. I would gladly pay more to get more value for them. Of course I object to waste in spending, and to some of the things they are spent on, like weapons, but universal single-payer health care and greater subsidies for education and the arts would be worth 30% more of my paycheck.

    • Along with government taxation comes government regulation. Once they start paying for something (with my money) they start telling me what I can and can’t have. I value freedom over comfort. I recognize this might put me in a tight spot some day – I have to accept the responsibility to save for my own retirement, for example, and not depend on the government to take care of me. But that helps me grow as a person and makes me more compassionate for others.

      Thanks for checking out my blog and taking the time to comment. We might not agree on much, but I like having the opportunity to discuss important ideas with others.

  2. Mikey G says:

    A person’s attitude towards taxation is usually dependent on their world view. You ought to be more forward with your base assumptions. It seems like you are assuming that the individual is responsible ultimately only to themselves. While this assumption is not my objection it should be worth noting that in the course of world history and contemporary values it is an unusual view. Some cultures answer to family, or to tribe or to state or to tradition or to God but few cultures advocate (in the way you seem to be) answering only to self.

    This in itself does not constitute a criticism (though I personally find the view abominable) but it should be noted that all of the things you consider immoral are only immoral if you are correct in that the individual has no authority over itself.

    • Individuals are certainly accountable for their actions; not sure why you think I’m saying they aren’t. I’m merely pointing out that taxes are coercive and the taxed have no say in how much, when, or why they are taxed.

  3. Adam Power says:

    Taxation forced by threat of violence is immoral in my opinion. Right now our country is involved in unnecessary conflicts around the world and killing innocent people with drones. I do not wish to pay for these programs but if I choose not to pay I go to prison, if I resist going to prison then the government will use force against me. I think that in a free society we get to decide what causes we will support. Ill keep paying because frankly I’m a coward and I don’t want to go to prison. Doesn’t make me feel very free though, and like you I would prefer freedom over comfort.

    • yeah, I don’t want to go to prison either, so I’ll also continue paying my taxes. If government and taxation were within their proper limits, I wouldn’t have a problem with paying taxes.

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