Source: The Mises Institute, by Ryan McMaken
When you’re a government agency, asking for a tax increase is always a hassle.
For the most part, taxpayers don’t like taxes, and if asked if they want to pay more, they’re likely to often say “no.”
Moreover, when public officials pass tax increases, they may face the wrath of taxpayers at the ballot box.
For this reason, governments are always looking for ways to get revenue without having to use tax revenue. After all, if taxes are the government’s only source of revenue, this presents a problem. As noted by Ludwig von Mises in Omnipotent Government:
The government has but one source of revenue — taxes. No taxation is legal without parliamentary consent. But if the government has other sources of income it can free itself from this control.
One of these “other sources of income” is the so-called “inflation tax” through which governments can create more money for themselves by simply creating it. The “tax” then falls on the public which is left holding devalued currency.
This is, as Ludwig von Mises, noted, “essentially undemocratic” since it’s an attempt to make an end run around the voters and obtain more revenue without having to go through the trouble of raising taxes honestly and out in the open.
Another method of seizing wealth from the taxpayers is through what is now called “civil asset forfeiture.”
This occurs when a law enforcement agency seizes the assets — including real estate, cars, cash, and other valuables — from private citizens based merely on the suspicion that the person has committed a crime with the assets in question. No due process is necessary. No conviction in a court of law need occur.
While it is technically possible to sue a government agency to reclaim one’s possessions, this requires immense amounts of time and legal fees to pursue.
Needless to say, civil asset forfeiture has become a lucrative source of income for law enforcement agencies. And, over the past 30 years, the practice has become widespread.
Tate Fegley writes:
Similar to how the income tax has become the primary source of funding for the federal government, many police departments have become dependent on CAF [civil asset forfeiture] to pad their budgets. In a survey of 1,400 county sheriffs and municipal police departments, 40 percent of responding agencies agreed that forfeiture provides a necessary budget supplement.
Fortunately, many taxpayers and reformers have begun to demand changes to their policies, and require that property can only be seized if the accused is actually convicted of a crime.
In recent years, New Mexico and Nebraska have enacted sweeping reforms to the system. Other milder — but significant — reforms have also been adopted in Maryland, Florida, Minnesota, and Montana.
Not surprisingly, law-enforcement agencies have often opposed the reforms tooth and nail. Moreover, in New Mexico, many municipal governments simply continued to seize assets, claiming the state law did not apply to them.
Even when the reforms are extremely mild, as is the case with recently-passed legislation in Colorado, local governments and law enforcement agencies are demanding the governor veto the reform legislation already passed by the legislature.
In response to the proposed legislation, a lobbyist for the County Sheriffs of Colorado claimed:
Read More Here: Civil Asset Forfeiture: Another Stealth Tax | Mises Wire