Last week Danish authorities seized three Ferraris belonging to a large Copenhagen-based business allegedly seeking to avoid VAT. With the largest bank in Denmark—Danske Bank—also being embroiled in a tax avoidance scandal last year, it seems timely to explore the common libertarian and voluntaryist idea of taxation as theft. With money and valuable assets like cars being confiscated, many are asking who the real thieves are, and how these seizures can be stopped.
Taxation as Extortion
Extortion is obtaining something—especially property or money—through coercion. That is to say, through threats of violence or intimidation. The popular “taxation is theft” trope in voluntaryist and libertarian circles thus equates taxes with extortion. This is sometimes seen as a radical or extreme position by those who view taxation as a “necessary evil.” A basic and obvious duty upon which civilized society depends. All this notwithstanding, the phrase is worthy of closer examination.
In Denmark, three high performance sports cars were seized by the state last week. The Ferraris were associated with a Copenhagen business seeking to avoid Denmark’s 25% value added tax (VAT) which had decided to bend the rules, finding creative