Some people keep repeating this mantra: taxes are obligatory, obligatory means “by force”, taking someone’s property by force is stealing, ergo taxation is stealing.
Well, no. Just no.
First of all, it’s hard to call it “theft”, when you get stuff in return. Valuable stuff. Sure, you might claim you don’t need that stuff. You might have preferred to buy that stuff yourself. But with all the roads, infrastructure, schools, hospitals, social security, police and so many others – don’t you dare call the government “a thief”!
Compulsion is a basis for law. There’s no point in having laws, if they’re not enforced on every person in a given territory. Can you imagine someone opting out of the penal code, because they don’t agree with it and they’d create a better one themselves? That would be batshit crazy, wouldn’t it?
Participation in a country cannot be voluntary – whether it’s about following the law or paying taxes. No public spending makes sense without the solidarity of the citizens.
If taxation is theft, then it’s morally wrong regardless of its amount. And the only acceptable solution is to allow everyone to opt out from any public spending and let them either receive the same service from private contractors or to give up on those services completely. What would that imply?
Imagine every forth citizen opted out from paying for the military: half of them pay for some private army now, and the other half are either pacifists or some smart asses that count on the regular army to protect them anyway. Which they will, because they protect the country as a whole, and also because it’s next to impossible to check everyone whether they’re eligible for help or not. They will, however, do it with a budget 25% smaller than necessary. And the most frightening thing is – there will have to be some private army, way harder to control using democratic oversight.
Imagine people without kids not being forced to chip in for education anymore. Who would? How many people can see and value a long-term correlation between quality of education and the general well-being of the society?
Not many, trust me. We’re short-sighted egoists, mostly caring about what concerns us directly and in a near future. Buying health insurance kinda makes sense to most of us, but when we’re healthy for a longer period of time, it becomes very tempting to get rid of it. When we’re young, we don’t think a lot about putting money aside for our retirement – we do, however, think about how much money vanishes from our salaries every month, here and now.
Healthcare and education are two most important things that a society needs to flourish. Healthy and educated people can take care of themselves and of each other, get advanced and wealthy, while having a lot of sick, uneducated members puts a burden of the rest of society. Letting people opt out makes the prices go up for those who stay in, resulting in the services slowly becoming unaffordable. Just look at what happened in the US, where introducing Obamacare with its insurance obligation made millions healthier and safer. Or at the American university system: parents having to spare money for college for many many years, so that the children can have a better future. Imagine you don’t have to pay those high sums when your child turns 18, but instead when they turn 6. Would you even decide to have a baby at all?
Or try to imagine opting out of administration costs. How on earth would you continue using public infrastructure and army, while simultaneously not paying for the administration that handles them both? You don’t directly get any service from the Prime Minister or Members of Parliament – so can you just not pay them? Sure, let’s make the politicians work for voluntary donations and therefore be more prone to corruption...
The point is: some things work better (or at all) when they’re collectively financed by all of us. You might not agree with that, but I don’t care. Because the second point is: if taxation is theft, then keeping criminals in prison must be kidnapping. You either have a government that uses constraint, or you have no government at all. Sure, taxation might be done wrongly in some countries, but in principle calling taxation “theft” (especially in modern, democratic, social countries) is an abuse.