Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Why tax isn't theft

Recently, in the lead article an edition of our newsletter Tax Justice Focus, the philosopher Martin O'Neill explained clearly why tax is not theft.

"It seems completely natural to appeal to property rights when arguing about rules of taxation," he wrote. But in truth, property rights are the result of a general system of legal and political rules, which include the rules of taxation.

So even though it may seem natural to argue in this way, it involves a deep confusion. For, if actually-existing property rights are constructed by the legal rules of property, including the rules of taxation, then one is making an error of reasoning in appealing to property rights in order to justify specific kinds of changes in, say, taxation rules.

The article is excellent, and well worth reading. Now Richard Murphy at Tax Research has followed this up with a short briefing paper, which complements this and is also well worth reading.


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