Do Tax Deductions Violate the Non-Aggression Principle?

I recently wrote about the Trump administration’s plan to eliminate the federal tax deduction for state and local taxes paid—the SALT deduction. I concluded that the SALT deduction was a good thing because it keeps almost $100 billion a year out of the hands of Uncle Sam.

Not everyone agreed that this was a good thing.

Okay, one guy—a blogger at the True Dollar Journal—did not think that this was a good thing:

Residents of states with no income taxes or low marginal rates actually subsidize the residents of the high marginal rate states.

According to Vance, “the SALT deduction keeps almost $100 billion a year out of the hands of Uncle Sam.” Vance believes this to be good because by Vance’s simplistic, libertarian view, anything that lets Americans “keep more of their money in their pockets and out of the hands of Uncle Sam” is good.

Time to buy old US gold coins

Yet, Vance advocates violation of the non-aggression principle of libertarianism when he pushes for the residents of some states to beggar their neighbors.

Without the SALT deduction, lawgivers of high-tax states would find themselves at a competitive disadvantage. Likely, quality of life would fall in states like California, Oregon, New York and New Jersey. Americans would have even more reason to move to states offering better tax laws. Gun Control and the Se... Laurence M. Vance Buy New $5.95 (as of 02:40 EDT - Details)

If Americans are serious about putting an end to creeping socialism in the USA, Americans will push to end the deduction for state and local taxes. Let the legislators of high tax states experience the wrath of their residents.

Are tax deductions subsidies? Do tax deductions violate the libertarian non-aggression principle?

I have answered the first question here, here, here, and in many other articles of mine on taxation. In a word: no.

Let me add here that if residents of states with a low or no state income tax are subsidizing residents of states with a high state income tax, then—

Taxpayers who aren’t blind are subsidizing those who are because the blind receive an extra deduction of $1,250.

Taxpayers who aren’t 65 or older are subsidizing those who are because those 65 or older receive an extra deduction of $1,250.

Taxpayers who aren’t teachers are subsidizing those who are because teachers can claim a deduction for educator expenses.

Taxpayers who aren’t performing artists are subsidizing those who are because performing artists are eligible for the line 24 tax deduction.

Taxpayers who aren’t paying alimony are subsidizing those who are because people paying alimony can take a deduction for alimony paid.

Taxpayers who have not moved are subsidizing those who did because those who move can take a deduction for moving expenses.

Taxpayers who aren’t repaying student loans are subsidizing those who are because those who are repaying student loans can take a deduction for the interest they pay.

Taxpayers who don’t attend college are subsidizing those who do because college students can claim the tuition and fees deduction.

Taxpayers who don’t put money in health savings accounts are subsidizing those who do because those who do are entitled to the health savings account deduction.

Taxpayers who don’t have a lot of medical or dental expenses are subsidizing those who do because of the deductibility of medical and dental expenses.

Taxpayers who don’t give to charity are subsidizing those who do because those who give to charity can claim a deduction for charitable contributions.

Taxpayers who don’t have child or dependent care expenses are subsidizing those who do because those who have child and dependent care expenses are eligible for a tax credit to cover them.

Taxpayers who aren’t homeowners are subsidizing those who are because homeowners can take advantage of tax deductions for real estate taxes, home mortgage interest, and mortgage insurance premiums.

Taxpayers who aren’t members of unions are subsidizing those who are because union members can take a deduction for union dues paid. King James, His Bible,... Laurence M. Vance Best Price: $19.94 Buy New $19.95 (as of 02:40 EDT - Details)

Taxpayers who don’t have casualty or theft losses are subsidizing those who do because casualty and theft losses are tax deductible.

Taxpayers who don’t pay someone to prepare their taxes are subsidizing those who do because tax preparation fees are deductible.

Taxpayers without dependents are subsidizing those with dependents because each dependent is worth a tax deduction of $4,050.

Taxpayers who are wealthy are subsidizing those who aren’t because certain deductions, exemptions, and credits are phased out once one’s income reaches a certain level.

I think my point is clear.

So, do tax deductions violate the libertarian non-aggression principle?

The non-aggression principle is the sine qua non of libertarianism. As explained by libertarianism’s greatest theorist, Murray Rothbard:

The fundamental axiom of libertarian theory is that no one may threaten or commit violence (“aggress”) against another man’s person or property. Violence may be employed only against the man who commits such violence; that is, only defensively against the aggressive violence of another. In short, no violence may be employed against a non-aggressor. Here is the fundamental rule from which can be deduced the entire corpus of libertarian theory.

Taxation is theft. It is theft on a grand scale. Again, I refer to Murray Rothbard:

All other persons and groups in society (except for acknowledged and sporadic criminals such as thieves and bank robbers) obtain their income voluntarily: either by selling goods and services to the consuming public, or by voluntary gift (e.g., membership in a club or association, bequest, or inheritance). Only the State obtains its revenue by coercion, by threatening dire penalties should the income not be forthcoming. That coercion is known as “taxation,” although in less regularized epochs it was often known as “tribute.” Taxation is theft, purely and simply even though it is theft on a grand and colossal scale which no acknowledged criminals could hope to match. It is a compulsory seizure of the property of the State’s inhabitants, or subjects.

The U.S. government is the greatest violator of the non-aggression principle. It loots Americans to enrich its army of bureaucrats, redistribute wealth, send its military to bomb, maim, and kill foreigners, and otherwise squander American’s money on things not authorized by the Constitution.

Just last month, the federal government spent a whopping $428,894,000,000, according to the latest Monthly Treasury Statement. This is the most the government has ever spent in any month in its history. And where did the government get the money? Americans were looted for $338,660,000,000 in taxes. But even after taking in all of that money, the government still ran a deficit for the month of $90,233,000,000. And Republicans claim to be fiscal conservatives?

Tax deductions—and their cousins tax exemptions, tax breaks, tax loopholes, tax shelters, and tax credits (as long as they are not War, Empire, and the M... Laurence M. Vance Best Price: $16.00 Buy New $20.45 (as of 02:28 EDT - Details) refundable)—are not subsidies, and they couldn’t possibly violate the non-aggression principle. If the federal government violates the non-aggression principle when it takes hundreds of billions of dollars from Americans, then some Americans being able to check a box or write a number on a form to keep some of their money out of the hands of Uncle Sam merely limits the extent of the government’s aggression. No one pays more because someone else pays less.

It doesn’t matter the amount of the tax deduction, what it is for, whom it benefits, or why it was instituted—the result is the same: Government takes less of Americans’ money to fund its bureaucrats, agencies, departments, bureaus, military adventures, global empire, corporate welfare, subsidies, welfare programs, income redistribution schemes, and myriad of wasteful, inefficient, and unconstitutional programs that shouldn’t exist. Because the income tax isn’t likely to be eliminated or tax rates substantially reduced, Americans need all the tax deductions they can get.