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August 2017 Brief: Volume 24, Number 24

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A Commentary on Property and Taxation


by Imitatus Publius



If we had an adequate understanding of private property, we, as a people, wouldn’t so casually allow our unalienable right to private property to be negated. And yes, as a people, we have done exactly that. Why does it matter? Because: There is no such thing as liberty in the absence of private property. Certainly one’s labor is his “own property.” In fact it is the one piece of property that everyone possesses, even the poorest among us. Further, the fruit of that labor is also the property of the laborer. As Samuel Adams put it in 1768 “The moment the idea is admitted into a society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence.”


Today the government exercises the power (note that we did not say authority) to:


  • seize your property before you are convicted of a “crime”, sometimes before
    you are even officially charged with that crime;
  • place an income tax, over and above your objections, on the private property
    of the fruit of your labor, which is the same as your labor;
  • place a tax, over and above your objections, on private property you have
    acquired by an exchange of your labor i.e. your home is paid for but there is a further annual property tax, and your automobile is paid for but there is an annual licensure fee.

Most of us are not directly reliant on the government for our pecuniary sustenance; but because the income tax has a little questioned claim on the fruits of our labor, we are dependent on the good will of the legislative branch for whatever they leave us.


The precedent for this has been long established; and now it is just a question of how much they demand. It can be anywhere between zero and one hundred percent. Presently it seems that the tax rate selected and upon whom it is enforced is calculated to generate the maximum amount of revenue without causing a revolution, whether that revolution be armed or merely at the ballot box is open to some question at present. More people are refusing to comply every year. Consequently the income tax, with its many rates, targets, and tax breaks, can and is being used to shape our wills and manipulate our actions.


When the sovereign individual no longer has undisputed first claim to the fruits of his labor, he no longer has undisputed first claim to the property of his own labor. He has been reduced to the condition of a serf. If we are to survive as a free and sovereign people, it is entirely necessary that governmental use of the income tax, and any other actions that diminish our rightful claim to private property be banished forever from the whole of this land. That means rescinding any laws which diminish that claim, as well as, repealing the sixteenth amendment and the elimination the IRS, not just as we know it, but branch, stem, and root as well.


At what point in the chain of economic transactions is the tax burden satisfied? In other words, regardless of the initial payee or in which position in the economic chain of transactions that the tax event occurs, who is it that cannot escape the tax consequences? The sale to the consumer is the final action in the economic chain of events. The accumulation of taxes hidden in the final cost of production of the goods or service, which were passed along by each prior entity in the economic chain of events, can be passed no farther. The income tax, whether in its current form or in a flatter fairer version, like all taxes, exhibits a tendency to aggregate and embed itself into what appears on the surface to be the real cost of a product. In truth, a large portion, of what we pay for our goods and services, is that embedded tax.


Whatever that percentage might be, all who earn their own keep by the sweat of their brow pay it equally. That is rich and poor alike. Because of this, it is my opinion that the income tax behaves in a decidedly regressive manner. The edifice of progressiveness in our income tax is an illusion, a mirage if you will. If you believe and remember nothing else of what you have just read, I want it to be this: PRODUCERS DON’T BEAR THE ULTIMATE BURDEN OF TAXES – CONSUMERS DO! Add to these something we haven’t even spoken of until this point: government regulations and mandates that indisputably behave as taxes. They are costs that are incurred by the business, which are not at the initiative of the business and add nothing to the value of the product to be produced.


It is my sincere belief that the main and insidious purpose this method of taxation was chosen by “the state” is precisely the opportunity for obfuscation it provides. If the taxpayer were to actually comprehend his true level of taxation, he would refuse to comply. The impact of this deception is that it allows government to grow to be much more powerful and pervasive in our lives than would otherwise be the case if the average taxpayer was aware of his ultimate tax burden. Without a real and educated choice as to what part of the fruit of your labor you are voluntarily willing to use to support your government, you are not merely subservient to, but at the mercy of, that government. The question isn’t whether our government has the constitutional authority to tax its citizens; but rather, “Will that government abide by the originally established constitutional authority, and will it be honest and forthright with its citizens when it exercises that authority?”


The vast majority of us probably agree there is a need for government, even a federal government. But it must be a limited government – one that abides by the proscriptions embedded in the Constitution. Also, it will have to be funded if it is to be of any real value. How in the world can we do this without an income tax? Our Founding Fathers gave us two general types of tax, direct and indirect: A capitation is a head tax, meaning so many dollars per person. An “excise” tax is one of the very few, and limited, methods of indirect taxation our Founding Fathers prescribed for us in our Constitution; the other two methods are duties and imposts. The point being, for all practical purposes, that for the first three-quarters of this country’s existence, we progressed quite nicely without an income tax. We didn’t need an income tax then and we don’t need it now.


Public Interest Institute’s POLICY STUDY, A Commentary on Property and Taxation, can be viewed at


Permission to reprint or copy in whole or part is granted, provided a version of this credit line is used:"Reprinted by permission from INSTITUTE BRIEF, a publication of Public Interest Institute." The views expressed in this publication are those of the author and not necessarily those of Public Interest Institute. They are brought to you in the interest of a better-informed citizenry.




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