Last week Danish authorities seized three Ferraris belonging to a large Copenhagen-based business allegedly seeking to avoid VAT. With the largest bank in Denmark—Danske Bank—also being embroiled in a tax avoidance scandal last year, it seems timely to explore the common libertarian and voluntaryist idea of taxation as theft. With money and valuable assets like cars being confiscated, many are asking who the real thieves are, and how these seizures can be stopped.
Taxation as Extortion
Extortion is obtaining something—especially property or money—through coercion. That is to say, through threats of violence or intimidation. The popular “taxation is theft” trope in voluntaryist and libertarian circles thus equates taxes with extortion. This is sometimes seen as a radical or extreme position by those who view taxation as a “necessary evil.” A basic and obvious duty upon which civilized society depends. All this notwithstanding, the phrase is worthy of closer examination.
In Denmark, three high performance sports cars were seized by the state last week. The Ferraris were associated with a Copenhagen business seeking to avoid Denmark’s 25% value added tax (VAT) which had decided to bend the rules, finding creative ways not to pay.
Why People Don’t Pay
Tax protestors and avoiders cite many reasons for not paying. Some, opposed to war, do not wish to put their hard-earned money towards assembling and dropping bombs on people they’ve never met. Others don’t wish to pay for abortion. Still others don’t wish to pay for an education system they view as subpar. They’d rather have more market options, but licensing regulations often prohibit this. Some think the police are not doing their jobs,