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What If Taxation Were Voluntary?

As we are now well into 2018 and Donald Trump’s tax cuts have long passed. The nation is now witnessing the aftermath of the debate over the ethics and economics of taxation. As some people see last year’s bill as a godsend of economic revival, many are concerned over individual tax cuts which are supposed to dwindle over the coming years.

As a staunch advocate for liberty, I love seeing any tax cuts, whether they be small or large, corporate or individual, or even just better management of funds which makes it easier to cut taxes in the future. When taxes are low, the economy thrives, companies stay in the country, and small businesses are given room to grow.

However, many of the services which government provides are charitable and good, at least in theory, and most people want to preserve at least some of them.

For this reason, I don’t think that simply lowering taxes is the most effective way to go about transitioning into a world where government fulfills its role of preserving our liberties, rather than keeping in place a system of welfare and warfare which ultimately takes innocent lives and keeps Americans perpetually subject to government assistance.

Instead, I propose a new tax plan where the people decide where their taxes go, including right back in their own pockets.

Imagine that you’re a hardworking parent with five kids to feed. You probably love your country, but you want to provide the best life for your kids as well and would much rather save for your children’s college than to pay for a program which puts up a mural in New Jersey to spread the message about climate change. In this situation, you would probably opt to keep that money instead.

Now imagine that you’re a single accountant with ample funds and a desire to make a difference in your community. When tax season rolls around, you may be more inclined to pay for that mural, or maybe you would rather see it go toward feeding starving children, helping the homeless, or finding a cure for cancer.

If we lived under a system where certain taxes were voluntary, it would give Americans more freedom to live their lives as individuals according to their own moral compass, rather than be subject to the will of the majority or politicians.

Corporate welfare, maintaining unused or vacant federal properties, a portion of some welfare like EBT, bonuses for politicians, Affirmative Action scholarships, and Donald Trump’s wall, or a portion of the funding for any of these, could all become classified as “voluntary taxes” and government waste would dramatically fall.

Theoretically, even more money could be put toward welfare and government programs, but the difference is that nobody will be forced to pay for them. Essential government programs such as national defense, border security, post offices and schools would remain intact, although an option could be added to allow larger tax donations if desired and a cap could be put in place to limit over-spending. Over time, the budgets of more government services could be cut and replaced with voluntary taxes, opening up the landscape for a type of “free market government.”

This new system of free market government would create a situation where the state now has to compete with private charities in order to provide the services that they claim to be better at providing. For example, food banks would suddenly be on more of a level playing field with the welfare state as people would have the option to choose if their money goes to the state or to private companies to provide the same services. The options could be clearly outlined each tax season by private services like Turbo Tax and government would be forced into greater accountability and more fruitful results which come with increased competition.

Over time, people would realize that they don’t need government force to solve most of their problems. In an ideal world with less statism, government is smaller and private charities provide more of the services that government currently does, which goes hand-in-hand with lower taxes.

Perhaps in 2024, a liberty-minded candidate could propose a similar tax plan to this and the national debate could be shifted toward less statism and more freedom for all Americans.


This article (What if Taxation Were Voluntary?) was originally published by Phillip Schneider and may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author credit, and this copyright statement.

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