Theft is defined as “the taking of another person’s property or services without that person’s permission or consent.”
Almost invariably, governments pass tax laws and set tax rates without any consultation with the citizenry. Further, no final approval is sought by the citizenry that they consent to the tax or the rates. It is simply imposed.
Most of us tend not to regard taxation as theft, yet, by definition, that’s exactly what it is.
But some countries, notably the US, go further in disguising the theft, by stating that the payment of tax is “voluntary.” I personally am not aware of a single instance in which an individual or corporation decided not to pay a tax and, if discovered, was allowed to go unpunished. A typical penalty is a fine equal to the tax amount, plus compounded interest on both the tax and the fine. Such a condition is anything but voluntary.
The US also has a tradition of treating the payment of tax as being “patriotic.” Avoiding tax is deemed unpatriotic—therefore, citizens should take pride in paying tax and, in fact, many Americans do claim that they’re proud to pay tax. It would also seem likely that some resent taxation, but want to appear patriotic, whilst others truly wear taxation as a hair shirt with pride.
However, if we define taxation as what it is—theft—it would be far less likely that either of these factions would be taking this position. After all, no one takes pride in being robbed.
Some countries (again, notably the US) describe tax havens as jurisdictions that seek to undermine the tax regimes of other jurisdictions. As such, the havens are harassed and threatened by the latter and referred to as criminal money-laundering centres.
Well, let’s clear the air on that one while we’re at it.
A tax haven is quite simply a jurisdiction that has a low-tax or no-tax regime. It either steals less of people’s money than high-tax jurisdictions, or steals none of their money.
It’s ironic that the US is at the forefront of persecuting tax havens, as the US came about in 1776 as the result of abusive taxation by King George of England. (At that time, the king was demanding a whopping 2% in tax, and colonists were outraged.)
The US is most certainly no longer the home of the American ideal. In fact, it’s slowly morphed to become the exact opposite. If any of the American founding fathers were to re-appear today, they could be forgiven if they were to say, “I don’t think we’re in America anymore, Toto.”
Yet the US, along with the EU, OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), and others, has repeatedly applied pressure to tax havens and has threatened or imposed economic sanctions against them.