Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tax Serfdom Day

The Irish Times reports today that the government will backdate the higher tax levies in the recent budget to the start of the year. And probably the higher health levy as well. Though retrospective legislation in relation to criminal law is banned under the European Convention on Human Rights, it does not apply to tax law unfortunately. This means that rich people (defined as anyone who uses an accountant) will pay more, as will people made redundant since the start of the year and who were paid more than the statutory minimum.

As Paul Craig Roberts recently noted, the modern taxpayer has no more claim over their own income than a medieval serf. In fact we taxpayers pay ourselves second - the state gets paid first (next time you get your pay slip just compare the gross figure to the net figure). Tax is in essence a moral issue: there is a social contract between the tax taker and the tax payer whereby the former is supposed to provide benefits to the latter out of the proceeds of taxation. The debate in every democratic society is over what 'benefits', and at what cost (relative to the tax payer buying the benefits directly from private suppliers of same). A debate that has, historically, lurched between sheer stupidity and revolutionary anger.

Who will defend the tax serf? David Quinn is right to identify a major political opportunity for whomever is up to the task. The Irish Left on the other hand are reverting to form unfortunately - James Wickham dismisses concerns about taxpayers with the thought:
the belief that taxpayers give ‘their’ money to the state ignores that ‘their’ money could only have been acquired thanks to the state and the wider society.
Ah yes, the State: that font of all beneficence, source of all wisdom, origin of all providence. All hail our new lords and masters. A pity the Left don't take the advice of Marxists like Chris Dillow and remember that 'the state is not your friend'. Today's retrospective grab by the state on the incomes of those who earned them in the first place is merely another lesson in what happens when you give power to people who do not exercise it in the interests of the power givers. And as the United States celebrates Tax Freedom Day, our own freedom gets postponed.

So, man the barricades ... or head for Liechtenstein?

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