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Taxation
03-08-2012, 01:28 PM
Post: #1
Taxation
I would like to know, according to the Torah, when taxation no longer is considered a proper collection of funds in order to pay for legitimate government expenditures and becomes merely theft. Is there a limit or a guide line to be followed?
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03-09-2012, 04:36 AM
Post: #2
RE: Taxation
As long as the ruling government is the legitimate ruler, the taxes it imposes are an obligation because of the Torah's principle that "the law of the ruling government is the law" ("dina d'malchusa dina" in the language of the Talmud).
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03-09-2012, 04:42 AM (This post was last modified: 12-18-2015 01:47 AM by Director Michael.)
Post: #3
RE: Taxation
Two principles are involved here:

(1) In order for a ruling government to be considered legally legitimate, it must follow its own stated laws. For example, the Lubavitcher Rebbe stated that it was decreed from Heaven that the communist regime in the Former Soviet Union would fall, because the rulers did not follow the laws of their own national constitution.

(2) If a citizen in a free country does not want to pay his legally obligated taxes, he has options to organize a political movement to change those taxes (while continuing to pay the levied taxes in the meantime), or move to another country.
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03-09-2012, 05:47 AM (This post was last modified: 03-13-2012 10:54 AM by Director Michael.)
Post: #4
RE: Taxation
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my question, but I still have some doubts and thoughts to share.

I, as an individual in society, cannot under the Noahide laws, nor under penal law, nor morally speaking, go to my neighbor's house and through the use of force and intimidation take away his money in order to give to charity. Even though I might have the noblest of the intentions on how the money will be spent, I simply cannot use force and coercion. I might try to persuade him to give his money voluntarily, but if I point a gun on his head and demand money, I just crossed the line between charity and theft. Right? The same applies to groups, because in reality groups are nothing more than many individuals, one group cannot use force and intimidation to raise money for charity against a single individual, because that constitutes theft. Right?

So if I, as an individual and a Noahide under G-d's Law cannot use force against my neighbor to extract from him money, even though I might give it to charity, how can I delegate to another individual (my representative in government) to do the same for me? In other words, how can I without fault delegate a sinful act? Isn't that falling into the category of theft as well?

The law says I cannot use force and intimidation to extract money from my neighbor, but at the same time the government can use force and intimidation to extract money from my neighbor.

I just want to know if under the Noahide laws there is a limit on the government or something that indicate to us what characterizes as theft, or as some might say "legally theft." Or as a Noahide I should not try to use government power and influence to increase "legal theft" in society.
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03-13-2012, 11:15 AM
Post: #5
RE: Taxation
Dear Zulske,
Thank you for your question. I realize that this can be a confusing concept, because ruling governments are rightfully granted certain powers and privileges that are not granted to individuals. However, the powers and privileges that can be rightfully claimed by ruling governments are certainly not unlimited or capricious. For example, your phrase "legal theft" is an oxymoron. If it is legal within Torah Law, then it is not theft. And if it is theft within Torah Law, then the Torah Law does not recognize it as being legal.

Please see the relevant Torah Laws cited by Rambam in his Mishneh Torah, Laws of Robbery 5:12-14,18. These are quoted here from the translation by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger, "Sefer Nezikin," p. 282-286. pub. Moznaim, 19'97:

==============

12. Similarly, if a king imposes a tax on all the inhabitants of a city, a fixed annual head tax or a fixed annual property tax, or decrees that anyone who violates a particular law will have all his property confiscated by the king, or decrees that anyone who is found in a field at the harvest time must pay the tax on it whether or not he is the owner of the field, or any similar decree, it is not considered to be robbery...

13. ... If, however, a king confiscates a courtyard or a field from one of the subjects of his country in a manner that is not in accordance with the laws that he enacted, he is considered to be a robber, and the owners may expropriate the property from the person who purchased it from the king.

14. The general principle is: Any law that a king decrees to be universally applicable, and not merely applying to one person, is not considered robbery. But whenever he takes from one person alone in a manner that does not conform to a known law, but rather seizes the property from the person arbitrarily, it is considered to be robbery.
Therefore, when the king's tax collectors and enforcement officers sell fields because the owner did not pay the fixed tax for the field, the sale is binding. A head tax, however, is the personal responsibility of each person and it may not be collected from his property. Thus, if a field was sold because an individual was delinquent in paying the head tax, the sale is not binding, unless this is the law enacted by this particular king.

18. When does the above apply? When the coins issued by a king are the tender of the land. This indicates that the inhabitants of that land have accepted him and consider him to be their leader and themselves to be his subjects.
If, however, the coins he issues are not the tender of the land, he is considered to be a robber who takes by the force of arms. He and his servants are like a band of armed thieves, whose laws are not binding. Such a king and his servants are considered to be robbers in all respects.
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03-15-2012, 04:44 PM
Post: #6
RE: Taxation
The power to use force to achieve a goal through coercion is usually denied people but granted to government so that the citizens will know that someone will compel citizens to follow just rules and laws. This coercion is what allows governments to compel citizens to respect the rights, property and persons of others. If there were no government, people would tear each other apart, and not just in a figurative sense, but literally.
Thus, governments DO have to power to compel us to pay taxes.
The answers above give the correct solution: if you don't like the taxation the government levies, then work to change the taxes or to change the government.
But pay the taxes you are responsible for UNTIL they are changed.
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03-16-2012, 06:44 PM (This post was last modified: 03-16-2012 07:31 PM by Director Michael.)
Post: #7
RE: Taxation
Another alternative is to consider moving to a different city, state/province, or country.
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03-17-2012, 05:04 PM (This post was last modified: 12-18-2015 01:52 AM by Director Michael.)
Post: #8
RE: Taxation
Both of you stated something similar that raises some questions.

Quote:"ruling governments are rightfully granted certain powers and privileges that are not granted to individuals"
Quote:"The power to use force to achieve a goal through coercion is usually denied people but granted to government"

Who grants government of those powers? Because you clearly stated that individuals do not have that right, so who grants them? Does G-d grants them? Is that in the Torah? Aren't all government power derived from the people? Otherwise it would constitute an authoritarian government, right?

G-d commands Moses to establish judges throughout Israel to judge cases and disputes presented before them. That is clearly proper, because no extra power was granted to those judges that the people didn't have, they were trustees of the people, thus all power they had were properly delegated, they were local leaders and their authority was recognized by local groups, they didn't have a central government. I see no contradiction here.

But in 1 Samuel 8 the people starts to ask for a king to rule over them, and amazingly enough, G-d warns them about taxation: "He will take the tenth of your flocks; and ye shall be his servants." I'm not an expert in biblical interpretation, that is why I need your help. But when the people asks for a government to rule over them, a government that would possess more powers than the ones given by G-d to the people, isn't that what G-d stated by: "they have not rejected thee (Samuel and the judges), but they have rejected Me, that I should not be king over them." ?

Mattityahu said:
Quote:"If there were no government, people would tear each other apart, and not just in a figurative sense, but literally."

I didn't say there should be no government. I'm just asking if there is a limit for taxation, or if taxation itself is theft in the eyes of the Torah. There are many ways to fund the government without taxes. But it would be a government that would look more like the one the Israelites experienced with judges, not a big one.

Quote:If, however, the coins he issues are not the tender of the land, he is considered to be a robber who takes by the force of arms. He and his servants are like a band of armed thieves, whose laws are not binding. Such a king and his servants are considered to be robbers in all respects.

Does that includes in the scenario we live today? By statute with shall use federal reserve notes (which are bills of credit for not having something of value to be backed by) as legal tender, but the Constitution still says "No State shall emit bills of credit and make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts." So when I use the federal reserve note to pay taxes for the government to pay their debts, does that make them "robbers in all respects"? By force they don't allow me to use the actual legal tender which is gold and silver.

I don't want to deviate too much from the topic. Thank you very much for the answers.
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03-20-2012, 04:48 PM (This post was last modified: 03-21-2012 01:06 PM by Director Michael.)
Post: #9
RE: Taxation
(03-17-2012 05:04 PM)Zulske Wrote:  Both of you stated something similar that raises some questions.

Quote:[Case 1] "ruling governments are rightfully granted certain powers and privileges that are not granted to individuals"
Quote:[Case 2] "The power to use force to achieve a goal through coercion is usually denied people but granted to government"

Who grants government of those powers? Because you clearly stated that individuals do not have that right, so who grants them? Does G-d grant them? Is that in the Torah? Aren't all government power derived from the people? Otherwise it would constitute an authoritarian government, right?

Right. Throughout history, almost all governments have been authoritarian, and all governments that have arisen have fallen, sooner or later - taken down by either internal or external forces, or both. All of that was by Divine Providence. The national governments in the world today, in their present forms, are (almost?) all less than a mere 236 years old (the age of the U.S.A.) During this time, only some of them have dabbled more or less in systems that are similar to the concept of democracy. There have been only a few generations in history since the Jews' Exodus from Egypt in which the Jewish people were able to live under a Torah-based government.

There are powers which G-d *grants* to a proper Jewish king who rules over the Jewish people in righteousness, in accordance with the Jewish commandment to appoint and accept a Torah-observant and G'd-fearing king. Logically, other ruling governments are permitted to assume similar powers as accepted by their citizens, if the powers are used legally (in accordance with the laws of the land) and without violating the basic Seven Noahide Commandments. Obviously, properly administered, permitted taxation by the government is not in the category of theft.

(03-17-2012 05:04 PM)Zulske Wrote:  G-d commands Moses to establish judges throughout Israel to judge cases and disputes presented before them. That is clearly proper, because no extra power was granted to those judges that the people didn't have.

On the contrary - the Torah definitely grants extra powers to judges (under Torah-based government) that the people aren't granted. The constraint is that they are not permitted to transgress the Torah's commandments (many of which are specifically and exclusively for judges, courts or national rulers). See Rambam's "Book of the Commandments".

(03-17-2012 05:04 PM)Zulske Wrote:  they were trustees of the people, thus all power they had were properly delegated

Delegated only by the Torah [G-d's will], and NOT by the people. The people are commanded by G-d to accept the courts' righteous application of the powers that He deligates to the judges and rulers.

(03-17-2012 05:04 PM)Zulske Wrote:  they were local leaders and their authority was recognized by local groups, they didn't have a central government. I see no contradiction here.

The lack of a central government was only a temporary situation, between the time of the Exodus and their establishment as a nation in the Holy Land. Once they were established, the Torah's COMMANDMENT to have a Jewish king over all the Jewish people (Deuteronomy 17:15) came into effect.

(03-17-2012 05:04 PM)Zulske Wrote:  But in 1 Samuel 8 the people starts to ask for a king to rule over them, and amazingly enough, G-d warns them about taxation: "He will take the tenth of your flocks; and ye shall be his servants." I'm not an expert in biblical interpretation, that is why I need your help. But when the people asks for a government to rule over them, a government that would possess more powers than the ones given by G-d to the people, isn't that what G-d stated by: "they have not rejected thee (Samuel and the judges), but they have rejected Me, that I should not be king over them." ?

No. You have misinterpreted the text. In I Samuel 8:11-17, G-d was warning the people about all the EXTRA powers that HE HIMSELF permits to a Jewish king, including the rightful power of taxation.

G-d's statement that "they have not rejected thee (Samuel and the judges), but they have rejected Me, that I should not be king over them," was in response to the Jews' sinful request in the previous verse 8:5 - "So now appoint for us a king to judge us, LIKE ALL THE NATIONS." Their sin was that they desired to live like the non-Jewish nations around them, and not like the way that G-d commands for the Jews - which is to follow all their commandments, including that they should have a Jewish king who will have all of those listed powers that he is granted by G-d, including taxation, etc. But the Jews at that time were flagrantly rejecting one of their commandments - their commandment to follow and obey a true prophet (Samuel), so it was obvious that they were not spiritually ready to live under the additional constraints that would rightfully be imposed upon them by a Jewish king.

The powers granted by G-d to a Jewish king, based on that Biblical passage, are listed and explained by Rambam in Laws of Kings, Chapter 4, Laws 1-7. First and foremost, Rambam explains that the king is granted permission to levy taxes upon the nation (he mentions head taxes, income taxes, and/or customs duties).

(03-17-2012 05:04 PM)Zulske Wrote:  Mattityahu said:
Quote:"If there were no government, people would tear each other apart, and not just in a figurative sense, but literally."

I didn't say there should be no government. I'm just asking if there is a limit for taxation, or if taxation itself is theft in the eyes of the Torah.

This is a rightful limit for taxation, and taxation itself is not theft in the eyes of the Torah. See for example the tax that Joseph Ha'Tzaddik offered to the Egyptian people, which they willingly accepted, in Genesis 47:24-26.

(03-17-2012 05:04 PM)Zulske Wrote:  There are many ways to fund the government without taxes.

For example, slavery.

(03-17-2012 05:04 PM)Zulske Wrote:  But it would be a government that would look more like the one the Israelites experienced with judges, not a big one.

You have misinterpreted the text. The Israelites in the Holy Land were commanded in the Torah to give "taxes" - the various tithes - to the Jewish Priests (descendants of Aaron) and Levites, and the Priests and the Levites were to serve as judges and teachers. Note that Samuel was a Levite (I Chronicles 6:18-23), and many of the major and minor prophets were Priests. Also there was a tax (the half-shekel) for the needs of the Tabernacle and the Temple.

(03-17-2012 05:04 PM)Zulske Wrote:  
Quote:If, however, the coins he issues are not the tender of the land, he is considered to be a robber who takes by the force of arms. He and his servants are like a band of armed thieves, whose laws are not binding. Such a king and his servants are considered to be robbers in all respects.

Does that includes in the scenario we live today? By statute with shall use federal reserve notes (which are bills of credit for not having something of value to be backed by) as legal tender, but the Constitution still says "No State shall emit bills of credit and make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts." So when I use the federal reserve note to pay taxes for the government to pay their debts, does that make them "robbers in all respects"? By force they don't allow me to use the actual legal tender which is gold and silver.

No. By "not the tender of the land", Rambam means not accepted by the majority of the people as the tender of the land, in practice.
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03-28-2013, 01:54 AM
Post: #10
RE: Taxation
I read the above taking note of the advice that was given. Over the past weeks I've been looking into government and what money actually is or how it is generated. I've been looking into the way how the governments of the western culture rules in comparison to the noahide laws. I've taken careful note of the response. e.g.,

"There are powers which G-d *grants* to a proper Jewish king who rules over the Jewish people in righteousness, in accordance with the Jewish commandment to appoint and accept a Torah-observant and G'd-fearing king. Logically, other ruling governments are permitted to assume similar powers as accepted by their citizens, if the powers are used legally (in accordance with the laws of the land) and without violating the basic Seven Noahide Commandments. Obviously, properly administered, permitted taxation by the government is not in the category of theft."

"On the contrary - the Torah definitely grants extra powers to judges (under Torah-based government) that the people aren't granted."

This doesn't count for the current governments. Or in other words, this excludes most governments, especially the well-known ones like the USA and UK. The governments of today violate the basic noahide laws. Extra powers are given to Torah based governments, which aren't around today.

I've seen the powers of government and heard of them: extorting, making people into nothing more than serfs, taking people's property and children even when the parents haven't physically or verbally abused the child, basically doing away with the Dinim law with a lot of their practices as well as spitting on the rest of the commands.

I question whether "dina d'melchuta dina" is part of the Noahide laws of Dinim as opposed to being a rabbinical law upon Jews when they are in foreign lands.

If taxes are being used by an unjust government for unjust purposes, e.g, clearing imagined national debts, funding unjust wars, making laws that make the Noahide laws illegal (i.e. capital punishment) and which legalize illegal acts according to the Noahide laws, it does not seem right to back such a government with one's funds if it is possible. In light of an unjust government, it is unwise to simply say "go with the flow or move" as in these gentile lands there are few places to move to. In the place of evil, I believe, integrity with cunning is needed, integrity in keeping the noahide laws, but cunning to find the weaknesses in the system and exploit them, using the laws and loopholes of the government to neuter them as much as possible. That's until we can find a way to topple it or change it. Unfortunately the faux-"democratic" system is powerless to change the government when the only options given is essentially the same thing.

That's my opinion
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