Gabriel Colominas Bigorra, an economist from Barcelona, has written a libertarian defense of tax resistance. My translation:
Liberalism, Taxes, and Tax Resistance
It’s strange to see how often tax evasion is identified as a purely selfish and heartless thing, as something immoral, when in my opinion it is very much the opposite. Those responsible for criminalizing tax evasion or tax fraud are the state and all of its functionaries (politicians and high officials). The context and institutions that surround us are mainly statist and it is for this reason that almost all public opinion is convinced that the evasion of taxes is something bad because “the treasury is all of us.” But when push comes to shove, we discover many people taking part of their salary in cash or our mechanic, no dummy, not writing out a receipt for the repairs and in that way avoiding the value-added tax. This scenario clearly contrasts with the typical Spanish attitude of “que me lo den todo echo, pero que pague otro” [an idiom I could not find a good translation for; maybe something like “I’d like to order everything on the menu except the prices” — ♇] that was reflected in the election held . We want a soviet state economy, but not to pony up its cost.
The tax burden in Spain is especially high, with some taxes that rise and rise without end to strip from people the fruits of their labor. Fortunately there are those who say that although we must contribute, the tax reform carried out by Hollande (in which those who earn more than a million euros must pay 75% of their income) is a monumental atrocity. I do not agree with the idea that everyone is obligated to contribute, but this is better than the people who say that “the rich” are to be expropriated for the purpose of guaranteeing a basic income to everyone, the typical fantasy land proposal.
Libertarians are thought of as misers who are incapable of helping others or giving them some of the money that they have, a picture totally removed from reality. People often spout off words like generosity when to pay taxes has nothing generous about it. To pay a tax to me signifies accepting our wasteful and extravagant authorities as our legitimate masters and complying irresponsibly with respect to the part of our money that we are forced to give. It’s true that we do so under the coercion of the monopoly of violence possessed by the state, but I believe that we have the obligation to search for better managers of our money, for example ourselves, and to do this begins with tax resistance.
Is tax resistance a purely libertarian tool? Well, no, in fact it is the act we all should perform when the state spends a part of our taxes on something that we do not want to invest in. Is there anyone who agrees with all of the spending and investments made by the state? Absolutely not. There is not even one taxpayer who sees their taxes spent as they would like. To give some examples: Catholics do not want abortions performed with public funds (they would be morally responsible for this), pacifists do not want to finance the army and much less to undertake a war, there is a significant number of people who do not want money used to bail out the banks and banking conglomerates in the way that has been done, others would like to use funds to protect the forests more or to strengthen public services, there is a large group of scientists who want to see boosts to funding for R&D, not to research them, but because they believe that research itself is a pillar of human development. There are many examples and I’m not going to bore my readers with many others.
But aside from not devoting our money to what we we want, there are other problems that we must keep in mind if we really want the apparatus of the state bureaucracy to manage our money. If we imagine someone who obtains a government that uses the taxes exactly as he wishes, even in this case the management costs that the government generates must be considered losses from our taxes, as we have seen over and over how the costs of certain parts of the budget increase without this translating into better service for citizens. A part of this sequence of problems we have the embarrassment of corruption and embezzlement of funds as well as the abuse of the budgets on the part of a sizable group of public managers, especially those most connected to the party system. If we observe the entire process we see that financing by means of taxes means that for every euro that we pay, a really significant part is diverted to invest in projects we don’t want, to pay for the bloated costs of administration, and to maintain a rogues gallery from whom we get too many cases of corruption.
Having reached this point, we see that really the enormous state bureaucratic system is not the best option for managing our money. What is the argument in defense of choosing to continue to pay taxes? In my opinion there is none that justifies the loss of money, especially taking into account that, as has been shown: From donations to voluntary, non-government organizations, we can develop a social structure apart from the state that better manages our money. And if you are one of those who thinks that with a different government, one that is truly “good and responsible,” things would be different as has been said, I want you to look at the structures and synergies of power that govern themselves by their own nature, the important state apparatus has developed a way of doing things just so that only a politician who disassembles it would be capable of getting rid of these dynamics turned sadly into vices.
Tax resistance is not only a tool for individualist libertarians; it is an action that any taxpayer must consider whenever any government, whatever flavor it has, employs money in a way that he does not like.