In my Libertarian view, estate and inheritance taxes are violations of Natural Rights, and must be abolished in a just, non-violent society, and the reasons are fairly simple.
Estates are merely extensions of the income which, as we pointed out in our previous post, a worker is fully entitled to under Jefferson’s dictum “Government … shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.” The income tax is both immoral, and inefficient. It kills initiative, and reduces production of goods by wasting vast sums of human energy. In brief, it is an assault, through coercion, on Individual’s Property Rights in their own labor and goods, and violates the Libertarian Non-Aggression Axiom that “no man or group of men may assault the property rights of any individual”. And since your body is also part of your property, the axiom would also include the violence against people we normally consider crimes, like assault or armed robbery. It’s strange we don’t consider the income tax in the same class as the mugger, but they are equivalent.
Still, it’s perhaps better to comply with this unjust, immoral law, than go to jail, and to engage in Lord Bertrand Russell’s prescription for challenging such immorality, which was “non-violent political agitation”: in other words, debates, political campaigns, demonstrations, and the Boycott, the last that wonderful old Irish non-violent Capitalist weapon, used so effectively by Mahatma Gandhi, and Thomas Jefferson and the Colonials, against the British.
But the Estate and Inheritance Taxes are both immoral because, just like the income tax, they violate Property Rights, in this case those of the deceased, who willed that their property go to whomever they wished.
That is, the Estate and Inheritance Taxes are not violations of the Property Rights of the person receiving the estate, but violations of the Property Rights of the deceased, the giver of the inheritance.
So the simple reason why Estate and Inheritance Taxes are violations of Natural Law, and the Libertarian non-aggression axiom, is that they are assaults and aggressions against the Property Rights of the Deceased. And for this reason, they cannot be used by a moral Government to raise the monies it needs to function. It must find some other way.
As Governor, I will submit legislation abolishing Estate and Inheritance Taxes in Oregon.
Libertarians check the box. Democrats, Republicans, and Communists can write me in.
Paul Grad, Libertarian Candidate for Governor of Oregon