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  • Religious taxation with government coercion

    Posted by Alif Leong on May 30, 2024 at 07:17

    Hi all,

    I’m just getting through lecture 17, and it’s clear to me that taxation is economically inefficient because of the lack of economic calculation, the use of coercion, etc.

    But what about religious taxation that is backed by government coercion? In Malaysia, where I’m from, we have a “zakat” which is basically a religious tax to help the poor, and the courts enforce it by the use of coercion (Malaysia has both Islamic and secular courts, not sure which one is relevant but I do know it is an offence to not pay zakat since it is netted off Muslims’ regular taxes, hence the secular taxation authorities would also have an interest). Given the lack of economic calculation and the use of coercion, I’d imagine this would be a suboptimal way to attain its stated goal of helping the poor. Similarly for another tax called “jizyah” though we don’t have that here.

    In contrast, as far as I can tell, Christian tithing is not legally enforced nowadays and so should abide by the principle of non-aggression. Of course, the same criticism as above would apply to tithing in the days before separation of church and state in Europe.

    This is not to offend anybody but an honest question on whether religious coercion is consistent with the principle of non-aggression. Saif’s thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks.

    Alif Leong replied 2 weeks ago 1 Member · 0 Replies
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