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6/02/2017 6:14 pm  #1


Ethics of Taxation

I would like to hear your opinion on ethics of Taxation. I have seen some videos which claim that any form of taxation is theft. I think that not all kinds of taxation are theft but even the ones that are theft are justified due to benefits to common good of the people. 

 

6/09/2017 8:18 pm  #2


Re: Ethics of Taxation

Have you ever looked at the Journal of Markets and Morality? It has some articles on taxation in the Christian intellectual tradition. Heck, here's one: "The Ethical Basis for Taxation in the Thought of Thomas Aquinas". There's also a good deal of material in Chaufen's book Faith and Liberty (Lexington Books, 2003).

While I cannot give you a specific answer to this claim (I've seen many on the blog-o-sphere), I think Thomists would say that man is a political animal, and thus needs government. The purpose of taxes, then, is to support the public functions of government.


The sacred rights of mankind ... are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of the divinity itself; and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power. (Alexander Hamilton, The Farmer Refuted)
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6/10/2017 5:58 am  #3


Re: Ethics of Taxation

Karl3125 wrote:

While I cannot give you a specific answer to this claim (I've seen many on the blog-o-sphere), I think Thomists would say that man is a political animal, and thus needs government. The purpose of taxes, then, is to support the public functions of government.

Yes, and in particular, the point of property is for humans to use it for the common good. Rights to property derive from the truth that this is best done when men possess and dispose of their own property. But the right to property for Thomas is not fundamental, and the right to property is defeasible; taxation is a legitimate way for those who have care of the common good to raise funds.

This view does raise some questions. If it's the order to the common good which establishes the right to property, can that right be superseded whenever a particular person is misusing his property? The answer, I think, is no, but there is not a formula for deciding which rights are superseded and which are not.

The state needs to do some things which require money, but people also need to pursue the good on their own. So minimally there should be taxation but not collectivism. Further, the laws to which people should be subject should not be applied arbitrarily, for people's lives need to be predictable as well. Exceptions should be rare, and the grounds for a particular instance of (say) eminent domain have to be dire. (In other words, for the institution of private property to work as it is supposed, one must protect rule of law and confidence in institutions.)

Beyond that, there is not a lot for the philosopher to say, I think. These questions can be decided by custom or by empirical considerations. If this policy tends to undermine the economy, then that is a reason to adopt a different one (even though policies that are to the advantage of the many may be disadvantageous to the few, and people are not fungible, so this decision is not neutral).

 

6/10/2017 11:07 am  #4


Re: Ethics of Taxation

Karl3125 wrote:

Have you ever looked at the Journal of Markets and Morality? It has some articles on taxation in the Christian intellectual tradition. Heck, here's one: "The Ethical Basis for Taxation in the Thought of Thomas Aquinas". There's also a good deal of material in Chaufen's book Faith and Liberty (Lexington Books, 2003).

While I cannot give you a specific answer to this claim (I've seen many on the blog-o-sphere), I think Thomists would say that man is a political animal, and thus needs government. The purpose of taxes, then, is to support the public functions of government.

Thank you for your respond. 

This issue has been raised recently by one of my friends and I have not really thought about it before. Thanks for the references.  I think there is one important question, in that should taxation be used as means of redistributing of wealth? The abstract of the paper you sent me suggests that it will deal with this issue. So I now have a good place to start. Thanks again.

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6/10/2017 11:17 am  #5


Re: Ethics of Taxation

Greg wrote:

Karl3125 wrote:

While I cannot give you a specific answer to this claim (I've seen many on the blog-o-sphere), I think Thomists would say that man is a political animal, and thus needs government. The purpose of taxes, then, is to support the public functions of government.

Yes, and in particular, the point of property is for humans to use it for the common good. Rights to property derive from the truth that this is best done when men possess and dispose of their own property. But the right to property for Thomas is not fundamental, and the right to property is defeasible; taxation is a legitimate way for those who have care of the common good to raise funds.

This view does raise some questions. If it's the order to the common good which establishes the right to property, can that right be superseded whenever a particular person is misusing his property? The answer, I think, is no, but there is not a formula for deciding which rights are superseded and which are not.

The state needs to do some things which require money, but people also need to pursue the good on their own. So minimally there should be taxation but not collectivism. Further, the laws to which people should be subject should not be applied arbitrarily, for people's lives need to be predictable as well. Exceptions should be rare, and the grounds for a particular instance of (say) eminent domain have to be dire. (In other words, for the institution of private property to work as it is supposed, one must protect rule of law and confidence in institutions.)

Beyond that, there is not a lot for the philosopher to say, I think. These questions can be decided by custom or by empirical considerations. If this policy tends to undermine the economy, then that is a reason to adopt a different one (even though policies that are to the advantage of the many may be disadvantageous to the few, and people are not fungible, so this decision is not neutral).

Thank for your response Greg.
I think you have explained the general basis for taxation. Moreover, if we want to discuss more about taxation we should consider each case by itself, (for a certain country, economic situation, the graveness of the issue and so on) which is at the moment not the aim of my investigation. This is too specific and huge feat to accomplish.

I also have one other question. Lets say that the government decides to universally provide health care. Is it justified to charge the rich people more than the poor people simply because they are more rich and poor are not able to pay as much as the rich (meaning that you are providing the same benefits to everyone but you charge them based on how wealthy they are)? Is it in principle counted as theft? if yes can we say it is still justified because it leads to realization of a common good?

Last edited by nojoum (6/10/2017 11:18 am)

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