Another argument that property taxes are intrinsically unjust

September 25, 2013 § 12 Comments

A while back I made an argument that property taxes are intrinsically unjust.  Based on my understanding of usury as taking profits from what does not exist, I argued that property taxes are levied against transactions which haven’t happened.  (That’s why an assessment is needed: the assessment is an imaginary transaction wherein the property is valued without actually being sold).

In this post I will make an independent argument that property taxes are intrinsically unjust.  This argument will not depend on any particular understanding of currencies, usury, etc.

Assume that income taxes are not always unjust, but that a 100% income tax – an income tax which confiscates literally all of a man’s income – is unjust.

Then observe that a property tax confiscates 100% of the property against which it is levied.  A 2.5% annual property tax will confiscate the entire property over the course of 40 years.

The fact that it happens in slow motion does not make it less than a 100% levy.

So in order to believe that property taxes are just, we must accept the premise that a tax which confiscates 100% of a man’s property is just.  It follows, since income is property, that a 100% income tax is just.  This contradicts our original premise that a 100% income tax is unjust.

§ 12 Responses to Another argument that property taxes are intrinsically unjust

  • Mike T says:

    The fatal flaw in your argument is that you are assuming that draining the entire liquid value of the asset over time has something to do with confiscation. It also doesn’t help your case that the government is only stripping the asset of all value, rather than denying your use of it of and your capacity to convey title. Furthermore, it is just plain silly to conclude that a tax levied specifically on the title is somehow an imposition against the title by the title holder and impairs their title claim in any deep fashion. If you’d just stop listening to libertarians, you’d know how wrong you are.

    Ok, I’ll stop now 😉

  • Mike T says:

    I’d be curious to know what you think about my assertion to Lydia that the state claiming an interest in the property via tax authority is akin to mineral rights as mineral rights supercede property rights. My contention is the following:

    1. Mineral rights, like a tax interest claim, supercede all other property rights in the land under this system.
    2. It is possible to convey imperfect title due to someone else owning the mineral rights because a willing buyer can buy just the ordinary property rights in a real property.
    3. Point #2 is exactly what happens regarding the tax interest in the land when someone buys a real property.
    4. Those with mineral rights can easily and lawfully sue you for all sorts of damage that would annihilate the value you possess in your ordinary property rights if you interfere with their superior property claims.

    At best, the only difference Lydia could assert that I can see is that the state is a little “stop, don’t pass go, u r pwn3d lulz” than you would be with a private actor. However, even if the system worked as Lydia idealizes it (forced liquidation only to pay the debt) it would still be almost exactly like point #4. Currently it is just an extreme variation of #4.

  • Zippy says:

    The main difference that strikes me offhand is that mineral rights are only invoked under certain rare circumstances; whereas the property tax power is like a hole in the bottom of your equity bucket, draining your property interest in perpetuity unless you keep refilling it or it goes empty, under all circumstances as a matter of course.

  • Mike T says:

    Apparently, if we hold income tax up against a particular property value we can show that aggregating income tax over time will exceed the total value of all property held by an individual thus… something. He lost me at trying to establish precisely what it shows us that if a man pays $10 in income tax a year that 100,000 years from now the value of his $1M home will be exceeded by his income tax payments. One would think the fact that the man would have made $99,000,000 in post-tax income would be a factor in there somewhere…

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:
    You would have a more edifying discussion with a bag of hammers.

  • […] taxes are inherently unjust. Related: The left’s obsession with corporate taxes is […]

  • Gunner Q says:

    The argument doesn’t hold up because private property does not exist in a vacuum. Would you accept a 0 property tax rate in exchange for having no public access to your property, no sewer/storm drain system, no fire department and no legal system? This is no different than paying a gasoline tax to fund the roads you drive on… it’s either a gasoline tax or every road becomes a toll road.

    Property taxes are levied against services provided.

    That’s the theory, anyway. It worked when voting was restricted to taxpaying landowners; not so much now that deadbeats and illegal immigrants get property taxes spent on them instead of infrastructure.

    Ye olde taxation without representation.

  • […] happened to me again recently when I was mulling Zippy Catholic’s arguments for the inherent injustice of property taxes. I have long thought that such taxes are indeed unjust – have hated them in my […]

  • […] But there is one kind of government activity that does bear close resemblance to usury: the levying of property taxes. […]

  • TomD says:

    Another way to look at this – property tax as described is mathematically identical to a 100% tax levied every 40 years.

    So how is one just and the other unjust? An income tax of 10% every year would mathematically be the same as an income tax of 10% for any period, whereas the property tax combines, and therefore is clearly taxing something that doesn’t exist (the “sale” of the property.

    Ergo, property tax is immoral. Income tax and sales tax are (at least by this argument) not.

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