A recurring theme in national tax debates is the idea that everyone should pay their “fair share” of taxes.
While that aspiration’s validity is widely taken for granted, the stark reality is there’s no such thing as a “fair share” of federal taxes.
To understand why, let’s first scrutinize what’s meant by “fair.” When paired with “share,” the most fitting definition is “reasonable, right and just.”
If the United States government were limited to its only morally sound function—protecting rights, liberties and lives—perhaps one could entertain the theoretical notion of a “reasonable, right and just” share of the cost.
However, that ideal is far from today’s grim reality, as tax revenue is used to assault rights, liberties and lives of Americans and people around the world—to say nothing of the sprawling waste and cronyism associated with a 2021 budget of $6.8 trillion.
So tell me:
- What exactly is my “fair share” of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which enforces economic sanctions that purposefully inflict suffering on innocent civilians in foreign lands?
- What’s my fair share of the tyrannical practice of civil asset forfeiture, in which cash and other property is seized from citizens without any requirement to file charges?
- What’s my fair share of the $1.2 trillion allocated in 2021 for the unconstitutional Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Labor, Education and Transportation, and Small Business Administration?
- What’s my fair share of the cages in which the government confines people for choosing to intoxicate themselves with a plant or a powder rather than a bottle?
- What’s my fair share of the several trillion dollars spent on the overwhelmingly pointless war in Afghanistan or the even more catastrophic invasion and occupation of Iraq?
- What’s my fair share of so-called “Covid relief” money used to bail out fiscally irresponsible state and local governments and pay unemployed people more than they were making on the job?
- What’s my fair share of the jaw-dropping $81 million the CIA paid to two depraved psychologists who crafted the agency’s immoral and ineffective post-9/11 torture program?
- What’s my fair share of the unjust prosecution of journalist Julian Assange for publishing documents that revealed wrongdoing and embarrassed powerful politicians?
- What’s my fair share of the $3.8 billion handed over to the Israeli government this year—with every one of those dollars violating a U.S. law?
- What’s my fair share of the $1.6 trillion cost of the snakebit, contractor-enriching F-35 fighter jet program—which the Pentagon already wants to replace with something else?
- What’s my fair share of the ongoing salary of the U.S. Central Command’s General Kenneth F. McKenzie, who betrayed his oath to the Constitution by carrying out President Biden’s unlawful orders to bomb Syria?
- What’s my fair share of $1.5 million spent encouraging eastern Mediterranean youth to stop smoking hookah?
Anticipating objections, please note that the moral standing of federal income taxation isn’t buttressed by whatever few authorized, proper, efficient and beneficial undertakings it finances.
Let’s say your homeowners association does a fine job providing basic services and maintaining common facilities, and you contentedly pay your annual “fair share” of $2,500.
However, the HOA then announces it will:
- Spend $80,000 to impose unemployment, malnutrition and the degradation of medical services in a neighborhood across town
- Give a contractor friend of the HOA president $200,000 to do $50,000 worth of sidewalk work
- Pay two men $90,000 a year to torture suspected car burglars and vandals
Shrugging off your objections that the proposed new undertakings are immoral, corrupt, wasteful and unauthorized by the HOA bylaws, the board informs you that—using the same allocation method as before—your dues have doubled to $5,000.
“You may not like everything we’re doing now,” they say, “but don’t forget—some of the money goes to plow snow and maintain the swimming pool. You benefit from that.”
Given how half the money will be used, do you think one can rationally insist it’s only “fair” that you pay the $5,000?
For the record—and the benefit of our government monitors—I pay every dollar demanded by the federal tax code. I pay not because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s the coerced thing to do. And if the lawless, immoral HOA threatened to lock you in the clubhouse basement if you didn’t fork over the $5,000, I’m sure you’d pay them too.
But, like me, you’d thoroughly reject the idea that there can be anything “fair”—that is, reasonable, right and just—about your share of the coerced funding of unlawful, wasteful and morally repugnant pursuits.
Reprinted with the author’s permission.