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Property Taxes are NOT “Rent”

December 6th, 2008

When challenging the maxim that Taxation is Theft, some people like to make an analogous argument: “Think of it as rent,” they say. (I saw this on a reddit discussion about one of my posts.)

OK, let’s think of it as rent A non-negotiable rent. Backed by the “social contract, so-called, a complete fiction which no man ever accepted because it was never lawfully offered, and one which may at any moment be unilaterally altered by the Landlord, who may reduce the quality of the services, add more services for which the tenant hasn’t asked (yet for which he still has to pay), may raise the rent, may reclaim the property, may evict the tenants on a lark, etc.

That’s not the sort of rental agreement that free men would tolerate.

It is not rent if there’s no way out. The Antebellum slaves were not “renting” their lodging, and “buying” their sustenance with their labor? The difference is only one of degree; we may have access to more property than they did in their time, but we’re not “renting” our livelihood any more than they were.

It’s not rent if there’s literally nowhere to go without having to rent, from essentially the same landlord. Since the tenants (i.e., taxpayers) simply have no method by which they can opt-out, i.e, you can’t buy allodial title, it’s only reasonable to conclude that taxes are definitely not rent.

Instead, they more closely resemble a feudal tribute, they are a “fee” which you are obliged under pain of death to pay “voluntarily” in exchange for “services” that you can’t opt not to purchase. Rothbard was fond of describing taxes as “ransom for permission to live”, that fits.

Theft by any other name is still theft.



  • Daniel Waite says on: December 6, 2008 at 5:45 pm


    Great article, as usual. One thing, I think it should be:

    …which no man *ever* accepted because it was never…

  • David Z says on: December 6, 2008 at 5:54 pm


    fixed… thanks for catching that!

  • Rob says on: December 7, 2008 at 1:12 am


    I guess you could think of it as a “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” agreement between homeowners who benefit from all of the money government has been printing, which, causes housing prices to rise….. sigh.

no third solution

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