The Patriots’ rallying cry against the British was “No Taxation Without Representation!”  The Patriots did not object to being taxed; they objected to being taxed by Parliament.  Members of Parliament, they feared, would have no consideration for their interests because Americans did not vote to elect Parliament.

Many Americans today face an equally pernicious evil.  It is “Representation Without Taxation;” many of our elected representatives are chosen by voters who do not pay income taxes.  In 2008, for example, those within the top ten percent of adjusted gross income (to qualify you had to be making over $113,799/year) were paying over 69 percent of all federal income taxes.  The bottom fifty percent of income earners—half the voters in the United States—were paying only 2.7 percent.  The three-fourths of the country below the top 25 percent were paying only 13.6 percent of income taxes.  So the overwhelming majority of voters are paying little or no income tax. (See  This creates an irresistible temptation for Congress to continually require more taxes from those who don’t elect them (that is those who pay almost all of the income taxes) to fund programs for those who do elect them, the majority of voters who pay little or no income taxes.  Those who are taxed suffer Taxation without
Representation while the majority enjoy Representation without Taxation.

It is curious that, if you lost your wallet, those who don’t pay taxes would probably be honest and return it.  They wouldn’t say: “I think I need the money in this wallet more than the person who lost it.  I’ll steal it.”  Despite this personal honesty, however, they accept the argument that taxing a small minority to fund programs for the politically favored majority is morally justified.

The evil here is the inequality of taxing some and not others.  If our country were attacked and we declared war, then everyone would be expected to serve and even give their lives—along with their taxes—in defense of our nation. No one would object because the sacrifice was agreed to and equally applied.  But when those who don’t pay taxes can outvote those paying taxes, it is like a majority declaring war then expecting soldiers to be provided only by the minority.

It is no defense to such disproportionate taxation to say the majority in Congress approved it.  In fact, that is the source of the problem.  The wise drafters of our constitution realized that in some cases majority rule can lead to tyranny.  The prohibition against the establishment of a state religion in the Bill of Rights was to prevent a majority of citizens, adhering to one religion, from banning an opposing religion.  The Founding Fathers realized that in matters of conscience majority rule would not work to protect essential rights.  Should there be another Right added that the majority cannot tax anyone else more than they are taxing themselves?

When the Declaration of Independence claimed governments were intended to provide
citizens with life, liberty and the opportunity to pursue happiness it did not mention, in small print at the bottom, that a significant part of that life, liberty and pursuing would be spent working to support a gigantic federal government and paying off an ever growing federal deficit.  For most of us the way we pursue happiness is to earn enough money to provide for our families and to purchase the needs and wants of life.  When the government takes our money through taxes it is, in effect, taking our lives.  The Tax Foundation estimates that in 2011 all the income earned by the average American between January 1st and April 12th, 2011 was taken to pay taxes.  That is a significant attack on our life, liberty, and happiness.  (See taxfreedomday)

Funding government programs—many of which are used to buy votes—by taking money from some citizens and transferring it to others was never a part of the Founding
Father’s dream.  The answer to this problem is not to deny help to the truly needy—those who really cannot provide essentials for themselves.  Rather we need to drastically change our system of federal taxation to insure that taxation is equally applied; so that all voters know from personal experience that government spending and government debt won’t be funded by someone else.  End Representation Without Taxation!

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  1. Jayme says:


  2. tukopamoja says:

    This may be true, but I think the tax numbers you present to support it are very unconvincing. They display the percentage of TOTAL tax revenue that the population under 50% of income pay. They don’t display what the marginal tax rate for that population is. Of course the total revenue for that population is low, given the wide distribution of income in the U.S. economy. The bottom 50% may still be paying a significant proportion of their incomes, even if they aren’t contributing to a major proportion of the whole. (I don’t have those numbers, so I won’t comment.)
    -Your nephew David E.

    • John Evans says:

      The data I found is “. . . for nearly half of U.S. households it’s simply somebody else’s problem [to pay taxes]. About 47 percent will pay no federal income taxes at all for 2009. Either their incomes were too low, or they qualified for enough credits, deductions and exemptions to eliminate their liability. That’s according to projections by the Tax Policy Center, a Washington research organization.

      • tukopamoja says:

        Good point. But the same article also says the following: “The vast majority of people who escape federal income taxes still pay other taxes, including federal payroll taxes that fund Social Security and Medicare, and excise taxes on gasoline, aviation, alcohol and cigarettes. Many also pay state or local taxes on sales, income and property.” So these people aren’t actually getting something for nothing. We all pay taxes on something.

        The idea that taxation should be “equally applied” is an interesting one. Does that mean that poor people should pay the same marginal tax rate as the rich? I would be very hesitant to support such an approach, and I think it would be inconsistent from the very beginnings of our republic, as property owners and higher income households have always paid more taxes.

        Thanks for the provocative thoughts.

      • tukopamoja says:

        And I should add that I agree that people should feel the cost of government spending. I’m just not sure that it needs to be through income tax (versus other forms of taxation, which people do pay).

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