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I. What is Tax?
II. The only things certain in life are death and taxes
III. Taxation in the Constitution
IV. The argument: Too much, too little and not at allV. Tax Rate, Historical and Current

I.What is Tax?

Tax is essentially the collection of a predetermined amount of revenue-share by a central authority (or its agents) from the total revenue generated by its participating members (individually or organizationally).

Taxes are collected from several points of revenue (or potential revenue), which includes:

  • Individual Wages

  • Company Profits

  • Capital Gains

  • Fees

  • Tariffs

  • Duties

  • Excise Taxes

  • Special Taxes

  • Special Incomes

II. The only things certain in life are death and taxes

Prior to the introduction of modern currencies, taxes were collected in various forms, which include, but are not limited to, agricultural products, livestock, precious stones, virginal maidens and firstborns. The practice of taxation has been in existence since the concept of a 'society' was invented in the Indus Valley a dozen millennia ago. In fact, for all the abhorrence most of us have felt and continue to feel towards taxes, it has featured prominently throughout our recorded history; the three major forms of societies that humanity has created - tribal, feudal and social/political nations - taxation plays an integral part in its construct.

And contrary to popular belief, taxation did not begin in the United States in 1913. In fact, direct federal income taxes first came into being on August 5, 1861, through the Revenue Act of 1861 (Section 49, Chapter 45, 12 Statute 292, 309). However, an even earlier form of taxation which indirectly taxed Americans came in the form of import tariffs, courtesy of the Tariff Act of 1789 (the Hamilton Tariff).

It appears that Benjamin Franklin was right after all.

"Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."
Benjamin Franklin, November 13, 1789; excerpts from a letter written to Jean Baptiste Le Roy (1720-1800, a French scientist, inventor, and Director of the Academie royale des Sciences de l'Institut de France)

III. Taxation in the Constitution

  • Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3:

Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined...

  • Article I, Section 8, Clause 1:

"The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States."

  • Article I, Section 9, Clause 4:

"No capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken. "
(Subsequently refined by the 16th Amendment)

  • Sixteenth Amendment

"The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration."
(Ratified on February 3, 1913

IV. The argument: Too much, too little and not at all

Too Much

The position of tax cuts advocates is perhaps best argued using the Laffer Curve, named after famed conservative political scientist/economist, Arthur B. Laffer.

Laffer postulates that tax cuts would increase the potential for new business activities, job growth, and consequently, federal tax revenue. His theory contends that just as a 0% taxation rate generates no tax revenue for the federal government, increasing the rates will eventually reach a point of diminishing returns where businesses and high net worth individuals would be disincentivized from participating in any taxable economic activities, and instead, turn to better yields from capital gains returns and dividend incomes.

In addition, it is morally wrong for the federal government to take between a quarter and a third of the incomes of businesses and high net worth individuals to subsidize middle-class tax cuts. cuts. By unilaterally punishing the wealthy, it creates a culture of entitlement, discourages entrepreneurship, and encourages the federal government to continue with their incompetent, wasteful and ultimately, harmful spending habits.

It also goes against the principles of liberty and small government that many believe are the cornerstone of our republic.

Too Little

Advocates of a progressive taxation system argue that low tax rates will inevitably concentrate capital in the hands of 'old money', speculators and wealthy corporations, who would have no incentive to risk their capital in the open market, even as the economic pie progressively becomes smaller. Capital gains income, stock dividends, and property rental provide a safe harbor for these individuals and corporations.

Progressive taxation forces liquidity into the economy through the federal government, which in turn facilitates entrepreneurship, innovation and growth, while allowing a fairer distribution of the economic pie. Instead of depositing their capital in Wall Street, these businesses and high net worth individuals would direct their capital towards business and infrastructural spending.

Advocates further argue that tax cuts have never meaningfully spurred growth through trickle-down economics, and the two lowest period of tax rates this century coincided with its two worst economic depression - the Great Depression of the 1930s and 2007-2009. On the other hand, periods of high taxation were followed by the greatest periods of economic growth and job creation.

In addition, there is an argument to be made that corporations and higher net worth individuals consume a higher percentile of the nation's infrastructure and resources. Multi-billion dollar public infrastructures such as airports, highways, and an army of civil servants, benefit Americans in higher tax brackets at a proportionately higher level, and thus, a progressive tax rate is the only fair method of taxation.

The federal government is also obligated to continue producing the nation's most crucial economic asset: a healthy, educated, and sufficiently motivated workforce.

Not At All

Opponents of taxation believe that it is an immoral, illegitimate and unconstitutional act that goes against natural law. Although the debate over the immorality of taxation has been around for centuries, the most prominent and influential modern thinker on the subject is the anarchist, Lysander Spooner (1808-1887). His philosophy was latched and expanded upon by several 20th century philosophers, most notably, Robert Nozick (1938-2002) and Murray Rothbard (1926-1995). The thoughts of both men have subsequently shaped and molded the contemporary conservative libertarian dogma on the subject.

Nozick, in his powerful Anarchy, State and Utopia, believes that a socio-political entity could conceivably evolve into existence from anarchy, and shelter a voluntary group of clients (citizens and organizations). The clients within the entity could feasibly pay a voluntary fee (tax) to a mutually agreed-upon agency (government) to protect themselves from internal or external threats of force, fraud, and theft (and contract enforcements), and in the process, see to the logical creation of a minarchist state.

Such a scenario could justify the payment of the said tax, but anything more than that is immoral and a perversion of nature. The act of taxing a human to pay for the expenses of another is inconsistent with ideals of self-ownership and free will. Since your production is generated from your own labor, the act of taxation is essentially forced labor.

Rothbard took his argument a step further, in that, taxation is, for all intents and purposes, robbery. Both can be simplified to the same basic principles - using force or the threat of force to take a share of the revenue generated by your labor.

Both men fundamentally agree that taxation is no better than slavery.

There have been renaissance in recent years on this very subject among latter-day Libertarians, but as of now, the Sixteenth Amendment precludes any real possibility of this ever becoming a reality.

V. Tax Rate, Historical and Current



2012 Republican Presidential Nominee
Former Governor of Massachusetts

Mitt Romney

Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney

Romney Position on Taxes

• Romney is in favor of the Bush support cuts as he says that these cuts really helped to bring the economy back on track when the country was going through a bad phase. He stated that "I have never opposed the Bush 2002 tax cuts. I supported them." during the 2008 Republican Primary Debate.

• He suggests that the best way to avoid an oncoming recession is to get a cut on the taxes of the middle class groups. This means that there will not be any taxes on interest, dividends or capital gains and will result in more money in the hands of the middle class. They will in turn put in more capital into the market which will be available for new ventures and homes.

• He is in favor of reducing the tax burden on middle income families. The Des Moines Register reported that he said that "I don't stay awake at night about the taxes that rich people are paying. I am concerned about the taxes that the middle class families are paying." during a Republican Debate.

• Romney strongly votes for the removal of death tax as he feels that it makes absolutely no sense in it.

• Romney addressing it as "my pledge" has promised not to support or reverse the plan to roll income taxes back to 5% by the next year even if a situation of a budget deficit of $3 billion.

•Mitt Romney said at a debate in Boca Raton on 24th January 2008, "I support the Bush tax cuts. The Bush tax cuts helped get our economy going again when we faced the last tough times."

• When asked what his first step would be on the fears of a recession, he replied that he would try to get a reduction of taxes on the middle income people of America. He intended that people earning less that $200,000 per annum would be able to save money without the burden of taxes.

• "Lowering taxes helps build jobs & helps working families, and so I strongly have been of the view that one of the great lessons for Ronald Reagan was that lowering taxes helped built our economy." Fox News NH Republican primary debate on 6th January 2008.

• On the Death Tax: "It doesn't make sense to me that people get taxed when they can earn their money, get taxed when they save their money, and get taxed when they die. We should get rid of the death tax." Quoted from Romney's book 'The Man, His Values & His Vision, p115.'

• In a debate in South Carolina he said he wanted to make it very clear that he would not raise taxes.

More on Romney  




Declared 2012 Republican Presidential Candidate

Matt Snyder

Presidential Candidate Matt Snyder

Snyder Position on Taxes

Snyder is a proponent of the Fair Tax. He favors open and honest discussion about the effects of, and transition into, the Fair Tax structure. He proposes an immediate cut in the corporate tax rate by at least 50% to promote job creation while the Fair Tax discussion takes place.

More on Snyder  

Declared 2012 Republican Presidential Candidate

Vern Wuensche

Presidential Candidate Vern Wuensche

Wuensche Position on Taxes

• Wuensche believes that we should eliminate the IRS and replace it with a national consumption tax.

• He believes that we should eliminate the death tax.

• He strongly opposes a value added tax.

• He opposes any tax on internet purchases.

More on Wuensche  

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