Yes you read the title of this article right, I believe income tax in South Africa is unconstitutional!
But before I get into why I say this, allow me to clarify three things about taxes and more specifically income taxes;
Firstly, taxes are a limit on yours and my freedoms and liberty. They limit our ability to spend our money on the goods and services we would freely want to spend on. What’s more concerning is that in the South African context, taxes, specifically income taxes, act to limit the millions of poor migrant workers ability to send remittances back home to family members in rural areas. This is significant considering 77% of people in rural South Africa live in abject poverty.
Secondly nobody, and I mean NOBODY, pays taxes. Rather it is a case of them, through an act of coercion, being taken from us. Government simply decides on a rate, and duly helps itself to a portion of your hard-earned income without your permission or agreement. There is nothing voluntary about them. It is pure theft.
Lastly, I don’t have a problem with some forms of tax as a means of VOLUNTARY payment for services and goods in public, specifically if it is more rational and economical to band together resources from all individuals who have a stake in, and need that particular service or good. However the principle must be that such an arrangement be on a VOLUNTARY basis, and as it relates to the particular use of the said service or good, must be on a user-pays basis.
So on principle alone, you can see why I, as a Classical liberal, would oppose the government’s use of force and coercion to simply take money from productive people of all income levels.
However the question must be answered, how do income taxes violate the Constitution of the republic of South Africa?
Section 23(1) of the Constitution reads;
“Everyone has the right to fair labour practices.”
Now I hear what you’re thinking, that the word “fair” is perhaps open to interpretation and is vague. However when applied to this situation, the question I ask is, ‘is unilaterally taking a portion of a workers income, fair practice?’ Surely the answer is NO!
On what basis does the government feel it has a claim to a portion of your income? Does the government send an official to assist you as you toil in a hot, stuffy and dangerous mineshaft drilling away into the rock? Where is the government official assigned to help you as you slave away late into the night to prepare for that important presentation to your managers the following day?
These questions simply underpin my objection to the basis through which the government suddenly pitches up on your pay-day and feels entitled to a share of YOUR hard earned income.
It is theft, and considering the government is not a party to the employment contract between you and your employer, their actions are thus surely an unfair labour practice.
Therefore we, the people, must stand up and freely voice our objection to the theft, as perilous as it may be at times (think: Marikana Massacre). Indeed we are increasingly seeing some of the poorer segment of the South African working few demand not only an increase in their income, but principally the liberty to spend and save it as they see fit. The ever increasing labour unrest in South Africa is being driven by workers questioning the legitimacy of deductions on their small and inflation eroded income. Sadly COSATU which is aligned to the ruling African National Congress (ANC), are in an effort to protect the ANC government, and are deflecting from the unfair nature of the largest deduction from a worker’s payslip, namely income tax.
I will write more on that in later opinion pieces.
For now, allow me to boldly finish-off by saying, LET’S BAN INCOME TAX as the immoral and unconstitutional act of theft that it is! We, the people, must demand our political freedoms and economic liberty as South Africans!