Tax Evasion: The “Crime” of Keeping What is Yours

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Original article published by the Liberty Institute of Freedom and Economics (LIFE)

On August 21st, 2018, a jury found Paul Manafort guilty of eight counts of tax and bank fraud. To summarize the convictions, Manafort managed to pay less in taxes by declining to disclose the existence of various bank accounts that he holds to the federal government. Manafort could die in a jail cell for tax evasion. No one should be cheering for this, for tax evasion is nothing more than resisting theft and keeping what is yours.

Taxation is Robbery

You never signed any contract agreeing to pay the government with your property. The government just takes it. Your consent is not required. In matters of taxation, you either give your money to the State or they throw you into a cage. Taxation is nothing more than the violent expropriation of one’s private property to the State. If that is not theft, then any gang of thieves can steal whatever they want so long as they declare themselves a government. Taxation is theft.

The government does not have a right to your property. Taxation is inherently incompatible with liberty. Whereas the State claims legitimate ownership over your property, they claim partial ownership of you. If we take this to its natural conclusion, taxation is just any other form of robbery, and tax evasion is simply resisting theft.

Tax Evasion is Not a Crime

A crime implies a victim. For a crime to occur, one must deliberately violate the self-ownership and private property rights of other people. In matters of taxation, tax evasion is not the crime, taxation is. If one calls a bank and informs them that they will rob the bank the very next day, it would be entirely logical for the bank to move its money elsewhere. In the same way, this is the case, it is entirely logical for a property owner to move their funds to countries with lower taxes so that they may avoid the oppressively higher taxes one experiences in the United States.

When one is convicted of tax evasion, the State is punishing an individual for acting in their own self-interest; the State is punishing an individual for protecting their own property from theft. While the power-elites may have declared tax evasion criminal, it is only through man-made legislation that inherently violates the natural rights of every self-owning being.

Tax Evasion is a Political Tool

The US tax code exceeds 70,000 pages. It takes more than 3 billion hours per year just to comply with the tax code. The IRS is fortunately unable to punish every instance of tax evasion. No bureaucracy is large enough to detect every violation and rectify said violation. It is quite clear that the IRS will use the tax evasion law as a means to take down people the government doesn’t like but is unable to convict of a crime. One of the earlier instances of this was the imprisonment of mobster Al Capone. Now, the State is doing the same thing to Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen.

“The FBI always gets their guy” is a common mantra in the justice community. But this is only the case because America’s laws are so intricate that it is incredibly easy to find proof that someone has committed at least one felony. The FBI always gets their guy not because they are just, but because they investigate persons in search of a crime. In a true system of justice, they would only investigate crimes (actual crimes with actual victims, mind you) in search of a person.

In other words, tax evasion is the mere crime of attempting to keep what is yours. The only way to accept the legitimacy of such a charge is to accept the legitimacy of a monopoly on violence systematically stealing the property of the people. Those who are convicted of tax evasion should not be seen as crooks. Rather, they should be seen as martyrs who have fallen victim to the omnipotent State.