The Issue: The scope of government at all levels - federal, state & local - has grown far beyond what is authorized by the US Constitution, and by many state Constitutions. Consequently, taxation at all levels has expanded, and now imposes a crushing burden on the US taxpayer. Collection of income taxes is highly invasive, and leads to loss of privacy.
The Principle: Individuals have sole ownership of all the time that constitutes their lives, and to the fruits of their labor. Individual income taxes are more onerous than consumption taxes, tariffs, and excise taxes. To the extent taxes are necessary to accomplish authorized functions of government, such functions should be funded by taxes that do not invade individuals' privacy or self-ownership.
Long Term Vision: Only minimal revenues are required to fund legitimate government functions. Such minimal amounts should be collected in a voluntary, non-intrusive manner, so privacy is protected as an unalienable right. Many government functions would be privatized, so donations and voluntary user fees may eventually replace taxation.
Transitional Action: Eliminate all taxation on individual incomes. As unauthorized functions of the federal government are eliminated, subsequent cost savings would be applied to reduction of taxes, and the federal debt. Excise taxes on air & water pollution raise revenue by penalizing the polluter, and thereby protect the environment.
<In context of Atlanta format, replace all "Solution" with "Long Term Vision".>
The Issue: Government spending at all levels now absorbs nearly a third of America's economic production, compared to under a tenth as recently as the 1920's. At the federal level alone, the tax code in 2004 was 3,457 pages (plus 13,458 pages of IRS regulations), compared to 94 pages in 1928. People accused of violating tax rules are considered guilty until proven innocent, and ignorance of one of these 16,915 pages is not considered a valid defense. Taxation in America is monumentally unjust and monumentally inefficient.
The Principle: It is unjust to tax people in order to finance benefits for other people. We oppose any such tax, as distinct from taxes that serve as fees for pollution, congestion, consumption of unowned resources, or government services not yet privatized.
The Solution: We favor continuously reducing taxes as the functions of government are privatized or made voluntary. We call for the eventual abolition of all taxation on income (i.e. wages, interest, dividends, profits, gifts, and inheritance); on the sale of goods and services; and on real estate improvements.
Transitional Action: If it will help speed the repeal of the above taxes while the functions of government they finance are being privatized, we support their replacement with 1) taxes on pollution based on the damage it causes, and 2) taxes on that part of land rent created by government services not yet privatized. However, we oppose any tax reform that lacks strict safeguards ensuring it will significantly reduce America's total tax burden.
Taxes should be reduced to the lowest level consistent with maintaining a free society.
THE ISSUE. The scope of government has grown far beyond what is authorized by the Constitution. To fund all these programs, the government has resorted to expanded coercive taxation and to incurring debt, which loads our economy with a fiscal anchor that will burden many future generations.
THE PRINCIPLE. Government should be funded by voluntary means. Government should not incur debt, [which burdens future generations without their consent] except in the case of national emergency as determined by super majorities of both houses of Congress.
THE SOLUTION. We support the eventual repeal of all taxation. To accomplish that, coercive taxes should be continuously reduced and simplified as government spending is cut and the functions of government are privatized or made voluntary. We recognize that it may prove impossible to fully eliminate such taxes and still maintain a government adequate to defend our freedom. A debt-free and tax-free government will free up economic resources, promote economic growth, and lower interest rates.
- We support the passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the US Constitution that restricts Congress from spending any more than it collected in revenue the previous year.
- Initiate a program of reductions in the individual income tax, with a goal of repealing the 16th Amendment.
- Initiate a program of selling government assets to pay off the national debt.
Libertarians believe taxation is wrong because it coercively takes money from people who don't want a particular service, and is often put to use to fund programs which the taxpayer opposes, such as wars, and because it burdens productivity and contributes to economic stagnation. Wherever taxation cannot be eliminated, it should be continually reduced and kept to a minimum. The most odious of taxes is the income tax and we call for it to be phased out.
Draft submitted by geolibertarian economist Fred Foldvary
Given that an imposed government exists and obtains revenue, these are the sources proposed by the Libertarian Party, as being the least worst for liberty and economic well being:
1. Voluntary user fees, for services provided by government, when feasible. Proposing such fees does not imply that the LP favors government provision, but only that given such provision, user fees are the least worst way to finance services with specific beneficiaries.
2. Pollution levies based on the damage caused by the emissions. Pollution is tresspass and an invasion of the property of others, and the levy is compensation for damages.
3. Assessments based on the value of land, as government works and services increase land value, and so long as these are provided and funded by government, a levy based on the site value returns to government that land value and rent added by the services. Proposing this revenue source does not imply that the LP favors government provision, only that given such provision, a charge on the generated land value and rent is less unjust and less economically damaging than general taxes on income and sales.
4. Tolls on highways and streets just high enough to prevent congestion. Such tolls would be charge by private providers, and make the use of streets and highways more efficient.
All taxes other than the above should be abolished, in particular all taxes on wages, interest, dividends, and profits; all taxes on the sale of goods and services; and taxes on buildings and other real estate improvements.