Monday, March 14, 2011

Biblical Law, Property Tax and Eminent Domain

An interesting snippet from R.J. Rushdoony's Institutes of Biblical Law on the subject property ownership as it relates to the 8th Commandment:

"The absence of any land and property tax in Biblical law very definitely protects enduring ownership, whereas modern tax laws destroy ownership. To cite an example, in one city, a lovely area of very superior homes, from ten to twenty rooms, some of stone construction, became, in about 25 years, so heavily taxed, that the homes either had to be torn down to make way for apartments, or sold for use as dormitories. The ownership of these homes was made prohibitive to impossible by means of taxes.

In another area, taxes led to the deterioration of the area, as people moved out and homes were made into multiple dwellings. Taxes then went down, and others moved in, so that a 90 percent change in population occurred in less than ten years. People who had built there, expecting to remain for life, lost heavily. Taxation of property is a means of destroying property and is a form of robbery.

Taxation makes for the speculative use of land, and it destroys the stability of communities. There is a marked hostility today to the development and preservation of communities by religious and ethnic groups, and such hostility leads to the destruction of property. The destruction of the Boston West End Italian community by urban re development and "slum clearance" has been ably described by H. J. Gans. A family centered society, extensively policing and disciplining itself, was broken up by a "slum clearance" project, because the area was coveted by planners. Both the taxing power, and the eminent domain exercised, are anti-Biblical.

Eminent domain is a divine right. It belongs to God alone. The "right" of the state to eminent domain has no place in Biblical law. The state has a duty to protect man and his property, but not to tax or to confiscate it.

To summarize the Biblical tax laws in relationship to the ownership of land, the basic tax was the poll or head tax (Ex. 30:11-16), which had to be the same for all men. It was paid by men only, all men of age twenty and over. This tax was collected by the civil authority for the maintenance of the civil order, to provide all men with a covering or atonement of civil justice…..

There was thus no land tax or property tax. Since "the earth is the LORD'S and the fullness thereof" (Ex. 9:29, etc.), a land tax usurps God's rights and is unlawful. The purpose of Biblical law with reference to land is to ensure the security of man in his property; a property tax of any kind is a denial of this God-ordained security."

60410: Institutes of Biblical Law Institutes of Biblical Law
By Rousas J. Rushdoony / P & R Publishing

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