‘(the act of) dishonestly taking something that belongs to someone else and keeping it;’
‘(an amount of) money paid to the government that is based on your income or the cost of goods or services you have bought’
A Long Time Ago……
While much of the literature out there claims that the first system of taxation was developed by those ‘cruel god forsaken’ Egyptians around 3000B.C, in actual fact the first known form of taxation was by the Sumerians in Mesopotamia as early as 6000BC.
The Bala (Sumerian for ‘exchange’) Tax is the name given to the method by which the Ur III dynasty of Mesopotamia collected taxes from its provinces. Because commerce was still very much barter based, taxes were collected in the form of produce. Each province of Mesopotamia would contribute materials according to the nature of the goods produced in the province. The more a province would produce, the more they would be required to contribute.
In order to ensure the people of each province paid their taxes, a governor was assigned to manage collection in each province. The Bala Tax paid for the luxurious living standards of the Ur III Dynasty, State administrators, the temples, the army and the poor. It is thought over half-a-million non-producing individuals relied on the Bala system for their sustenance.
But they didn’t stop there. If having to hand over a portion of everything you produced wasn’t enough of a burden, a labour obligation tax was also enforced on all freemen at the head of their household. Each year, several months of one’s time would have to be devoted to the labour requested by the government. This could range from farming state owned crops, to fighting bloody wars in far-off lands. As you’d expect, the wealthy found loopholes in the scheme by sending a slave in their place, bribing their province governor and so on.
Then came the Egyptians….
With the collapse of the Ur III Dynasty, came the collapse of Mesopotamia and their dirty little Bala extortion racket, but then up pops the Egyptians!
The first income tax is generally attributed to Egypt, where the Pharaohs collected taxes from their citizens. Though it seems to me little more than the Sumerian Bala system on steroids.
Like the Sumerians, Egyptians did not use coined money, so once again their taxes were levied on produce and property. The easiest group of people to tax were the peasants in the agricultural sector or what we would consider today, the working class. Over time, the Egyptian dynasties came up with new and innovative ways to ensure maximum compliance. Ahmose II 569-526 BC, one of the last Pharaohs, legislated the first annual tax return upon his citizens. Every citizen was obligated to declare to the ruler of their district how much they had produced in the previous year. Those who failed to submit their tax return and those caught filing false returns were punished by death.
And So… Tax Havens Were Born
The rich and powerful, of course, needed a way to get around these taxation laws without being considered exempt from it. Under Osorkon II of the 22nd dynasty, the inhabitants of the city of Thebes did not have to pay any taxes to the royal treasury. The king said ‘I have protected Thebes in her height and in her breadth, pure, delivered to her lord. No inspectors of the king’s house journey to her; her people are protected forever’.
So, if you had wealth and power, you, of course, become a resident of Thebes. Does all of this sound familiar to you?
Rome wasn’t built in a day
Legend has it that on April 21, 753 B.C., Romulus and his twin brother, Remus, found Rome on the site where they were suckled by a she-wolf as orphaned infants. Skeptical? OK, let us go back a little further. Romulus and Remus were the sons of Rhea Silvia, the daughter of King Numitor of Alba Longa.
Alba Longa was located in the Alban Hills southeast of what would become Rome. Before the birth of the twins, Numitor, the twin’s grandfather, was deposed by his younger brother Amulius, who like any bad ass king would do, forced Rhea to become a vestal virgin so that she would not give birth to rival claimants to his title. But Amulius’ little plan didn’t quite go to plan. Rhea was impregnated by the war god Mars and 9 months later Romulus and Remus entered the World. In his fury, Amulius ordered the infants drowned in the Tiber, but they survived and were washed ashore at the foot of the Palatine hill, where they were suckled by a she-wolf until they were found by the shepherd Faustulus.
Th story of Romulus and Remus is generally regarded as ancient myth and legend, though I suspect there is more truth to the story than most suspect. Anyway, moving on……
Faustulus and his wife took the twins on as their own. The twins would later go on to become leaders of a band of young shepherd warriors. In time the twins learned of their origins and attacked Alba Longa, killing that ‘wicked wicked’ king Amulius, and restored their grandfather to the throne. The twins then decided to build a settlement on a town on the site where they had been saved as infants. It wasn’t long before tensions grew between the twins and a petty quarrel broke out resulting in Remus being slain by his brother.
Romulus then became ruler of the settlement, which he named “Rome” after himself.
But regardless of the she-wolf suckled twins and their path to greed and treachery, Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor was it built in 1 day or even in 7 days. In actual fact, Rome was built in 1229 days based on its founding date on April 21st 753B.C and the date of it’s fall in 476A.D. Of course, these dates are largely speculations from historians, but what we can be sure of is that Rome was not built single handily in 24 hours by twin brothers Romulus & Remus. Nope, Rome was built millions of people through multiple generations using good old-fashioned taxation.
The tax collectors in Rome were known as publicani. One of the twelve apostles of Jesus, Matthew the Apostle was one such tax collector in the village of Capernaum in the province of Galilee (referenced in Matthew 9:9 and Matthew 10:3).
The Roman Empire had a genius system in place, they outsourced all their tax collection making just one man in each region, the publicani, accountable. The publicani would manage and pay the predetermined taxes for their region. The publicani would then manage the land and the people of the region, collecting taxes on all income, whether that be in coinage, crops, wood or other produce. The publicani could tax the region however they wanted, all the empire wanted was the predetermined tax quota, the rest of the booty was profit for the publicani.
This outsourcing of tax collecting benefited both the empire and the publicani, and the more powerful members of each community. The empire didn’t have to do anything other than designate a publicani for each region, the publicani took a lesson from the Empire and didn’t enforce tax on individuals, but simply enforced tax on each community within the region. It was then up to the community to decide how to cover the cost of taxes, which, of course, always leads to the poor being exploited the most. Genius!
Those wanting to avoid taxation (normally the noble, rich and powerful) would of course take the obvious route of becoming a tax-exempt, publicani.
Taxation in some form has existed in every civilisation. For a little bit of fun, here are some of the more ridiculous taxes and collection tactics we’ve seen over the years.
Urine Tax – In Ancient Rome, urine was a valuable commodity, I kid you not. It was collected from the cesspools where the peasants of society emptied their small pots, and the public toilets which the upper classes used, and recycled. The Roman’s would use the urine for a whole host of things from bleaching/cleaning clothes, to softening leather, to make gunpowder, and, this is my favourite, to whiten their teeth (yuk!). Money was to be made in this Urine business and the Empire wanted their piece of the pie.
The Roman emperor Nero (37AD – 68AD), wanted to raise some funds for building what would be the Colosseum. So he enacted a urine tax, known as the vectigal urinae, on the buyers of urine.
Coward Tax – In 1100AD English medieval knights not wanting to get their guts spilt in battle, could opt-out of war. But it came at a price, ‘Scutage’. Scutage or as it was more commonly referred to ‘Cowardice Tax’ placed a high level of tax upon those wanting to leave their service to the King.
Beard Tax – In 1698 Emperor Peter I of Russia created the beard tax. Beard Tax was implemented in an attempt to westernise Russian society. So, basically if you wanted to keep the beard, you had to pay tax on it. The same approach was also used in Tudor England by Henry VIII, in this case though it was to raise the status of those with beards, as only those with substantial wealth and power could afford the ‘beard tax’.
Window Tax – It’s great to have windows, you can let the light in, look out of them, open them in summer to let the fresh air flow through your residence, ah, what a luxury! The English Royals certainly thought so! In 1696 a window tax was introduced in England. The more windows you have, the more tax you pay. The idea was that poorer people would pay less tax than wealthier people, but as per usual things didn’t quite work out that way. Because the poor often shared buildings with a dozen or so other people, they often were living in a building with multiple windows and thus were subjected to the higher window tax. The work around was to block up the windows in the buildings to reduce the tax. You’ll see many old buildings today in England where windows are still bricked up from this ridiculous tax. Window tax was abolished 150 years later in 1851.
Hat Tax – As the name suggests, this was a tax imposed on anyone who purchased a hat. In 1784 when the hat tax was introduced, only the wealthy could afford a tax. However, once again it wasn’t the wealthy that were affected, they simply stopped buying hats, while the poorer class of hat makers saw their income fall away. Still as ridiculous as the hat tax was, it remained in place for 25 years before being repealed.
Clock Tax – Clock tax was once again aimed at the wealthy as in 1797 it was only the very wealthy that could afford such luxuries. The British government imposed an annual tax on every time-piece an individual owned. Tax varied depending on size and type of clock.
Modern Day Taxation – Reality Check
Now we are going to look at exactly how much the average person in the UK gets taxed for every penny they earn. Many assume this is a simple calculation, but it isn’t just income tax we need to consider, oh no sir-ee, there are hidden taxes everywhere!
Meet hypothetical Bob. Bob is a car mechanic and earns £20,000 annual income for his hard work. Bobs yearly taxes deducted from his salary will be £2468.
Bob however also drives to work each day, his journey time is one hour each way, which is the UK average commuting time. He spends £10 per day on fuel for his car.
Vehicle Tax can vary in the UK depending on the vehicle. Bob as you will find out, is poor and drives a small car with a small engine capacity and so his yearly car tax is low at £165.
The current tax on fuel in the UK is around £0.90 per litre. Bob has to put around 10 litres a day in fuel into his car just to get to his job, which comes to £9 per day. Bob works 5 days a week and has 28 days holiday per year (lucky Bob) and so he works a total of 232 days per year. So, total fuel tax paid just to get to work and back is £2088 annually. Bob doesn’t have the luxury of owning a new car, it’s a 15 year old second hand unglamorous and a little rusty not-so-mean machine. He has to spend around £750 per year in maintenance charges just to keep the antique legal on the road. ‘Thank you very much’ says the tax man, ‘another £125 in the pot for us’.
So let us just see where we are so far……
- Bobs Income: £20,000
- Income Tax: £2468
- Car Tax: £165
- Car Maintenance: £125
- Commuting Fuel Tax: £2088
Total Tax deductible’s so far: £4846 or a little over 24% of Bobs Income. Or to put it another way, Bob has to work the two hours of his 8-hour work days just to cover taxes. But we’ve only just begun!
Bob has a wife, hypothetical Barbara and two children. They live in a rented small terraced two-bedroomed house in the less-than-idyllic, but better than average, hypothetical town of Skintsville.
Their annual household energy costs are £1500. The current tax on household gas and electric is 5%, so that’s another £75 per year to add to their tax burden. But of course, Bob and Barbara have the usual broadband, two mobile phone contracts and a Netflix subscription. All of this combined comes to £150 per month or £1800 annually, all of which is subject to VAT (Value Added Tax). The current rate of VAT is 20% and it applies to just about all goods and services purchased within the UK with few exceptions. Oh, and let us not forget their council tax, this comes in at a hefty £1350 annually. So, that’s an additional £1680 the happy couple can add to their tax burden.
While hypothetical Bob is a wannabe naturalist, Barbara is less keen with Bob’s desire to be naked. And so, Barbara ensures the family have a fully stocked wardrobe and spends about the national average on clothing based on their family size, which is £1200 per year. That’s another £200 for the tax man.
Bob and Barbara are average, they live the average life and have the average expectations for their life, this includes the usual conveniences of having washing machines, fridges, freezers, tumble driers and other appliances to hand. They spend £150 per year on keeping up to date with the Jones, which equates to an additional £25 per year to their tax burden.
Besides Bob’s fuel usage, Barbara also has her own car and between family day outs, shopping and additional maintenance charges, vehicle tax an additional burden of £3500 per year can be applied.
Every Summer Barbara insists on a Holiday to her preferred destination of Alicante in the south of Spain. Barbara picks up a cheap deal at around £1200 all inclusive. Another £200 for the taking.
So, let us see what Bob and Barbara’s Tax pot is now looking like.
- Income Tax: £2468
- Council Tax: 1350
- Car Tax: £165
- Car Maintenance: £125
- Commuting Fuel Tax: £2088
- Electric & Gas: £75
- Entertainment: £330
- Clothing: £200
- Appliances: £25
- Holiday: £200
- Barbara’s Family Car: £3500
Bobs Income: £20,000 – £10525 = £9475
Total tax deduction: £10525 or 52% of Bobs Income or 4 hours and 10 minutes of Bobs hard labour every day.
Bob is effectively working almost half his time for the government. Now, the UK does offer various subsidies for low-income families such as hypothetical Bob and Barbara’s, all of which is funded for by tax payers like Bob – however, since I’ve left out Bob and Barbara’s smoking habit and alcohol consumption which has massive tax implications we’ll call it quits – Bob is a slave to his tax burden, this much is clear.
You may have also noticed that Bob is actually spending more than he earns, but that’s ok. That is what credit cards and loans are for. Bob and Barbara both have credit cards and ever-growing loans, ensuring they are truly tied to this system of perpetual slavery.
Is Taxation Theft?
So, now that the history lesson is complete and the reality check is over, let us talk about whether or not Taxation is theft.
There is an argument many for taxes and it goes a little something like this.
‘We need taxes to ensure the poor are adequately provided for. Public infrastructure is maintained, nation defences can be funded, and so suitable education and health system are in place for all, regardless of one’s financial situation.’
We’ll get into whether the argument itself is valid or not in a minute, but for a moment let us pretend the statements made are true, does this make Taxation not an act of theft?
No, it doesn’t. Just because there are a group of people who believe that in order to provide the very best for a community, they must by force, extract a percentage of everyone’s income without consent to fund the operation does not make it morally just.
Defining theft is quite simple. If you give consent for someone else to have something that is yours, it is not theft. If, however, someone takes something from you without your consent, it is theft. I don’t care what your feelings are on Tax, there is no argument here – it is that simple.
Now, if you are happy with the government taking at least 45% of your labour time, then this could be considered consent, and so for supporters of taxation, it is not theft. But for anyone that opposes it, it is theft on the government’s part.
Now, let’s go back to the statement made earlier defending the taxation system.
‘We need taxes to ensure the poor are adequately provided for….’
Why? This assumption is made based on this idea that humans are callous ‘in it for themselves’ monsters. This belief is something that has come out of Government systems, but in reality, the truth is quite the opposite. For the most part, humans are herd animals, they take care of each other and work together in a way that best suits their community as a whole.
A statement closer to the truth would be more like this:
‘We need taxes to ensure the poor remain poor and are completely reliant on the state….’
Remember the tax loop holes we discussed in Sumerian, Egyptian and Roman times? Well, they still exist now, and they’ve come a long way since the times of old. Do you think tax loop holes are coincidental errors in state regulations and legislation? Seriously, do you?
Of course, they are not. Tax loop holes and safe havens were built into the taxation system to ensure those with the majority of the money can lose their tax burden. Tax is for the bottom 99% of the population, as it always has been. Those in the bottom 99% are indoctrinated to believe that tax loop holes are bad, and the rich are scumbags for using them. ‘They should pay the same as everyone else!’, wrong – No one should pay any tax, it is the poor, the bottom 99% that allow this to continue with their flawed worship of the state. A taxation system has never done anything than benefit the rich, while enslaving the poor – it’s what it is designed to do. Quite literally, it is modern day slavery. If you disagree, please let me know how working 45% of your life for someone else without consent is any different to slavery?
Taxation is Theft!
Taxation is theft for those that do not consent to it. Taxation is theft by its very definition. Consider it a different way. If your neighbour decided you must now pay him 5% of everything you earn, and in return, he’ll remove the weeds from your shared path and clean the gutters. If you don’t want to, he’ll break into your house and take the money for himself. Well, this is exactly how government taxation works. They force you to pay for services, regardless of whether or not you want them. If you don’t pay, they take it by force at best, lock you up in a cage at worst.
Or, imagine this. I want to build an army of people so I can attack a neighbouring village and take their resources for myself. Whether or not they like it, the people in my village will fund my attack on our neighbours. Does this sound rational?
This is exactly what happens here in the UK and in the US. How much of your hard labour is for the death and destruction of other nations? How much blood is spilt courtesy of you?
I began this article with the full intention of giving both arguments, for and against Taxation. But there isn’t any rational argument to defend taxation or dismiss the idea that it is theft. I tried, I wanted to. I even hoped to maybe enlighten myself a little and see ‘the other-side’. Sorry, I failed. It is conclusive without any doubt in my mind, that Taxation is Theft. In fact, it’s worse than that, it is slavery.
I’m always amazed at how many people, even people that would claim to be ‘awake’, support taxation and, to a degree, the statist ideology. We’ll dig deeper into Statism in our VIP newsletter for subscribers in a couple weeks – but if you are wondering how to deal with taxation, understanding statism and how to break others free from it is the first step.