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Steinhauser
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04 Apr 2013, 12:17 pm

I define theft as the seizure of another's property using force, coercion, or fraud.

Is this definition accurate? If not, why not?


I define taxation as the seizure of a person's property by a state or collective, under threat of force.

Is this definition accurate? If not, why not?


If both definitions are accurate, how is taxation not theft?



visagrunt
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04 Apr 2013, 12:52 pm

Your definition of theft is not accurate.

At Common Law, theft is defined as, "the act of converting chattels to one's own use without colour of right."

Conversion does not require taking. A bailee commits the actua reus of theft when he refuses to return the chattels of the bailor, thus coverting them to his own use.

At Common Law, theft was limited to chattels, so when intangible property came to be understood in law, legislatures generally stepped in and codified the definition of theft in statutes. These vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, of course, but no force coercion or fraud is necessary for a person to commit "theft of a telecommunications service."

Equally, there are plenty of circumstances in which property is taken through coercion or force which are not theft, because colour of right exists. When I get a court order to compel you to return property that belongs to me, and I send the bailiffs to recovery that property--it is not theft. I have colour of right, because of my court order, and the bailiffs are acting lawfully for the same reason. When you pledge a security interest in your property in order to borrow money, the lender may, if you fail to repay, use force of law to recover that property from you. That is not theft, because your act of pledging a security interest created a colour of right upon your default.

Even if you don't want to rely on a Common Law or statutory definition, a plain language definition will still include the essential requirement that the taking or conversion of property must be felonious or unlawful. This is an essential characteristic of theft: the taking must be unlawful.

It follows that anything act that is authorized by law cannot, by definition, be theft. And tax (and its collection) is authorized by law.

quod erat demonstrandum

I also take some issue with your definition of tax. A tax cannot be levied (in democratic jurisdictions) without legislative approval. That battle was waged and won during the English Civil War, and it has been established ever since that the only legitimate origin of a tax is Parliament. Your definition speaks only to execution--the methods upon which government may rely in order to collect tax--but it does not define the tax itself. I would be inclined to define tax as, "the levying of money obligations upon persons or property by lawful authority."

You are tying to prove your assertion by creating parallel definitions. This is logically sloppy, and it is rhetorically dishonest.


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Tsunami
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04 Apr 2013, 1:13 pm

Taxation is a requirement of living under the government's authority. Some people think that when they earn or are given something it gives them absolute rights over that property, but this isn't true. You can't buy a piece of land and then declare it an independent nation, for example. The ownership rights you have are subject to the jurisdiction of the political authorities in your area. There is no ownership in this world without force. Maybe you can think there should be, but that is unrealistic. A more practical definition of theft is the taking of property (or services, etc.) outside of the rule of law.



Last edited by Tsunami on 04 Apr 2013, 1:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

1000Knives
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04 Apr 2013, 1:29 pm

I always thought it was just a bigger more complex version of mafia "protection" money.

Some people actually like the mafia and the "protection" they offer, though.



GGPViper
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04 Apr 2013, 1:49 pm

It would make more sense to ask the following question:

- Does taxation and theft share some common characteristics?

As they are legally distinct phenomena according to just about any real-world legal framework, the "taxation is theft" claim is little more than a rhetorical device...

It belongs to the same category as other political buzzwords like: Death Panel, The War Against Women and The 99 Percent.


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04 Apr 2013, 2:10 pm

Theft is a legal term so as long as it isn't considered unlawful, then no. Philosophically, it's a loaded term so I won't even bother trying to assert whether or not it is theft since it's just a matter of opinion. What I wanna challenge is the assumptions behind the phrase. It implies that taxation exists for no reason other than greed. While taxation can be unfair or subject to being taken advantage of for profit through cheap excuses, it's short sighted to dismiss all rationale for taxes on that basis. Centralization is a double edged sword when it comes to the Government. It helps streamline things on one hand and on the other hand if you go too far that's when you allow the Government to monopolize. Taxation serves to centralize things into a money pool, which is a good rationale for some things and obviously a threat to freedom for other things.



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04 Apr 2013, 2:25 pm

Taxes are the dues you pay for being a member of the State.


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marshall
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04 Apr 2013, 3:08 pm

This is a pointless argument.



1000Knives
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04 Apr 2013, 3:12 pm

Fnord wrote:
Taxes are the dues you pay for being a member of the State.


Or they'll kick your ass.



Kraichgauer
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04 Apr 2013, 3:12 pm

As one Supreme Court Justice had once observed, "Taxation is the price we pay for living in a civilized society." Good luck trying to build or upkeep roads, have fire, police, and military protection, etc. without taxation.

-Bill, otherwise known as Kraichgauer



Keni
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04 Apr 2013, 3:30 pm

Taxes are also a way of supporting people in need.
There wouldn't be much of a social safety net if it was left to voluntary donations.



marshall
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04 Apr 2013, 3:32 pm

1000Knives wrote:
Fnord wrote:
Taxes are the dues you pay for being a member of the State.


Or they'll kick your ass.


Could use a barter system instead. The decision that green pieces of paper are worth something is a collective decision. The state makes it illegal to counterfeit money. If it didn't the whole capitalist system would just fall apart.



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04 Apr 2013, 4:17 pm

What about Sales Taxes? At least you can make a choice to buy something that has tax included in it.

Or Excise Taxes on fuel. Or License Fees.



CSBurks
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04 Apr 2013, 4:26 pm

Yes they are.



MCalavera
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04 Apr 2013, 4:36 pm

No, it's not theft in my opinion. I don't have a problem with a portion of my money being handed to the Government to take care of the primary needs of those less fortunate than me. And in Australia, it's one reason we have this thing called Medicare.



ruveyn
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04 Apr 2013, 4:39 pm

Governments exist to keep the peace at home and to defend the land from foreign attacks. Taxation to support any function other than those is extortion which is a kind of theft