Death and taxes Akademia with Adam


It is sometimes said that the only certain things in life are death and taxes, but given his way Nozick would have us only expect death.

In nearly every organized society there exists some form of taxation. If you have ever worked a formal job you probably noticed after each paycheque that a portion of your pay is missing. We accept taxes as a part of life and any debate surrounding taxation tends to center on level of tax as opposed to its justification.

Robert Nozick, a renowned thinker in the field of political theory articulated an attack against taxation on the grounds of freedom. Taxation, he argues, is fundamentally wrong as it takes the wages of individuals without their express consent. When we work, we trade our labour for pay but we also trade our time. Nozick argues that taxation is a transfer of the fruits of our labour to the state, thus we are working for the state without our consent.

He further argues that if we are being forced to labour but having our compensation taken then we are literal slaves. Slavery is of course categorically wrong and as such Nozick expects this argument to be a significant blow to the notion of taxation.

Nozick rejects arguments that suggest democracy presents mechanisms for individuals to make changes to taxes and tax policy.

Slavery, regardless of mechanisms, is slavery and there exists no option for individuals to not adhere to tax laws.

Another common argument given against Nozick is that taxes are necessary for redistribution; there exists in society inequality between rich and poor and some mechanism is needed to help the underprivileged.

Nozick claims that support for such groups should be voluntary and that the restriction of individual rights or liberties in order to help such groups is not a net positive.

Nozick further argues that taxation is in fact discriminatory against certain individuals as it hampers their enjoyment of life.

Nozick asks us to imagine for example that there are two individuals, one of which likes sunsets and the other who likes movies. The first one may go look at sunsets every evening at no cost and be quite happy. For the other individual to match that level of happiness they must see a movie every night.

Unlike the sunset lover, the moviegoer is taxed for pursuing their happiness which Nozick views as unreasonable.

Though little change has been done to change tax laws, these questions are significant nonetheless.