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Tax Tyranny

Pascal Salin

Tax Tyranny does not aim to give a description of existing tax systems, rather it provides readers with the intellectual instruments which enable them to understand the role of taxation in the workings of economic systems and to evaluate the fairness of taxes.
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Chapter 12: Consent to taxation?

Pascal Salin


It may seem that citizens agree to the tax system of their country when public authorities are appointed by democratic elections, contrary to what exists in a totalitarian regime. However, there is always the risk in a democratic system that a majority of people will decide to despoil other people, so that democracy becomes tyrannical. As there is no “general will” it is not possible to find institutional solutions so that it could be considered that taxes are accepted by citizens or even desired by them. Moreover, statesmen prevent people from declining to pay taxes. Some institutional reforms can somewhat improve the consent of citizens to taxation, for instance a constitutional limit for the overall amount of taxation or for the tax structure; a better separation of public powers so that an institution could decide on the amount of taxes to finance the expenditures decided on by another public institution; a better freedom of choice of individuals as regards the taxes they have to pay; bringing taxes closer to taxpayers through decentralization; increasing the possibility of competing with state activities; etc.

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