Misled by Property

It is not untypical for arguments about the justice of taxation to be framed in the rhetoric of property, for example by equating taxation with the taking of property by the state, a form of expropriation. An important recent example is found in Murphy and Nagel's book, The Myth of Ownership: Taxes and Justice. In this paper the author argues that the equation of taxation with expropriation is conceptually awry, and that, properly understood, justifications for property rights bear only tangentially on the justice of taxation. The author elaborates this view by discussing Murphy and Nagel's general strategy when they attempt to justify taxation in the face of libertarian 'pro-property' arguments, in the particular case of the 'saver's argument', i.e., the argument that taxation on the income from investments amounts to an unfair burden on savers
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