It is common in libertarian circles to hear the blanket catchphrase, “taxation is theft.”
It is completely untrue, of course, since indirect taxation isn’t theft, since you are voluntarily choosing to pay the tax by freely choosing to buy a product, in the case of retail sales taxes.
This blanket statement is an example of one of the mantras of keyboard commandos on libertarian blogs, like the derision of “fiat money,” in reference to money not backed by gold or silver, despite fiat money meaning money issued by the sovereign, which also includes gold and silver coins issued by the government.
While I have sympathy for the argument that taxation is theft if you are a voluntaryist, that criticism is mitigated by evidence that, taken as a whole, could be construed as evidence of the person’s consent.
I’m referring to the use of a birth certificate, a Social Security Number, a driver’s license, government-issued currency, and voting.
A birth certificate is government-issued evidence of a birth, but if you are using it for your identification, you are recognizing the authority of the government, which is unnecessary, and totally voluntary.
A Social Security Number is a tricky matter, since regardless of the constitutionality of the personal federal income tax, if the mafia tells you to pay up or else, I don’t advise you to tell them to take a hike, as there could be — and usually are — serious consequences. This is certainly the case with not paying your personal federal income taxes, as Ed and Elaine Brown of New Hampshire found out the hard way.
But if you’re using your SSN as optional identification or not going out of your way to legally minimize your tax bill as much as possible, then I construe that as part of the evidence of your consent to be governed.
A driver’s license is necessary to drive a vehicle, but not necessary to travel in a car without transporting anyone for a fee. The proof of this is that no lawyer in the United States will say that you don’t have a common law right of travel. Practicality is another matter, as you are certainly likely to get repeatedly stopped by the police for traveling without a license plate, but it’s perfectly legal, and Steve Jobs did it, showing that it’s not just for a Freeman.
If you live in a big city and choose to drive with a license, then I consider that as evidence of your lack of seriousness in thinking that all taxation is theft, as you are directly paying licensing fees and indirect gas taxes, all without the excuse of necessity or practical necessity, which would have some credibility if you are living in a small town with no, or wholly inadequate, public transit.
Federal Reserve Notes and bank credit aren’t government-issued currency, but government-issued coins are, and since they represent such a miniscule portion of the money supply, they can be avoided by truly principled opponents of taxation, and private charities could certainly use the money.
If you vote, then I consider that to be direct evidence of your consent to be governed, and the U.S. system of government isn’t a democracy, and, therefore, you don’t get to vote on every issue, but instead, you elect representatives who vote on your behalf, and if they vote to levy a direct tax on you, then you are consenting to it, unless you subsequently produce strong evidence against it and stop voting for would-be representatives.
The basic question is, what are you really doing to buck the system you purport to be against if you truly regard taxation as theft? There aren’t many who say taxation is theft and really do something about it, and hence my designation of them as the “taxation as theft” blowhards.