The Left is always advocating that we raise taxes on the rich. It’s common to hear them say “the rich should pay their fair share in taxes.” I agree that people should pay their fair share in taxes, which is why I oppose raising taxes on the rich. In fact, I propose that we lower taxes on the rich and raise taxes on the poor (by which I simply mean the “non-rich”). Why? It’s because the rich already pay more than their fair share while the poor pay less than their fair share. As of 2017, the top 1% U.S. income earners made 21% of the total income, but pay 38.5% of all federal income taxes. If they were paying their fair share, they would be paying 21% of all taxes, not 38.5%. In fact, the top 1% pay more in taxes than the bottom 90% combined (29.9%). Even if you widen the net to the top 50% of income earners, this group pays 96.7% of all taxes. That means the bottom 50% of income earners only pay 3% of federal taxes. While the top 1% pay an average of 26.8% of their income in taxes, the bottom 50% only pays an average of 4% (6x less).[1] Does this sound fair to you? So on what grounds can one legitimately claim that the rich are not paying their fair share, and need to be taxed even more?

Think, for a moment, what taxation is. Taxation is the government’s ability to coerce you into giving them some of your hard-earned money. While some level of taxation is justified in order to sustain basic government functions (services that the public cannot provide for itself, such as military defense), taxation can easily morph into government theft when the government coerces people into giving them more than what is justified (how the government would like to use your money is irrelevant, if it is using it for something other than sustaining basic government functions). Theft is theft, whether a private citizen does it or the government does it. Anyone who takes money from you for which they have no rightful claim is stealing from you. When a man robs you at gunpoint because he wants to use your money, he is stealing from you. And when the government taxes you (beyond what is justified) at gunpoint (through the threat of the force of the law), they are also stealing from you.

Taxing the wealthy beyond their fair share is immoral, but when the government does so in order to redistribute that wealth to the poor, they commit a second injustice. While it is a morally laudable, gracious act of charity when the rich freely choose to give to the poor, it is morally atrocious when the government coerces them into doing so. Think of this in personal terms. If you earn $60,000 while Bob earns $30,000, would I be justified in the name of equality, in forcefully coercing you into giving me $15,000 so I can give it to less fortunate Bob? Obviously not. If this would be immoral in the personal sphere, why think it becomes moral in the political sphere? Redistributing wealth entails the government forcefully coercing people out of their own hard-earned money so the government can give it to those who they deem less fortunate. While the less fortunate are less fortunate, that does not mean they have a moral claim to take (or receive) other people’s money. That is immoral.

The very concept of redistributing wealth is immoral. It’s based on the presuppositions that being wealthy is immoral, and that everyone should share things equally. Both are false. Wealth is not immoral. So long as the rich gained their wealth through legal means, no one else has a right to their money – not you, not me, and not the government. Jeff Bezos is extremely wealthy. Why? Because you and I buy a ton of stuff from his company. Why do we do that? Is it because he is forcing us to buy his products? No. It’s because we like his products and the system he created for selling products. He does it better than everyone else. He didn’t get rich by oppressing us, stealing from us, or coercing us. He got rich by coming up with a great idea that benefited others. He got rich by finding a way to meet the needs of consumers so that the consumer would be happy. And when consumers are happy, Jeff Bezos makes money and he is happy. It’s a win-win situation for all. We get the products we want at prices we like in an easy and efficient manner, and Jeff Bezos makes a profit. A lot of profit – not because he’s ripping people off, but small profits on each transaction turn into enormous amounts of money when millions of people choose to make hundreds of millions of transactions with him. If Jeff Bezos was ripping people off, people would stop buying from him and he would go broke in an instant. We, the people, make Jeff Bezos rich.

But why does he deserve all that money? It’s because he took the financial risks of creating his company – not you, not me, and not the government. He worked hard and invested his entire life into making his company successful – not you, not me, and not the government. But isn’t that just too much money for one man? Surely it is more than he needs, but a few things should be considered. First, who gets to determine how much one needs? You? Me? The government? Second, what do we mean by “need”? If we’re talking about the amount of money we need for survival basics (food, water, clothing, shelter), virtually everyone in this country has more than they need (cars, cell phones, TVs, etc.). Third, but related to the second, “rich” and “poor” are relative. Absolute poverty refers to one’s inability to provide for their basic survival needs. Virtually no one in this country is in absolute poverty. Relative poverty, however, is based on comparisons of wealth. Compared to Jeff Bezos, I am extremely poor. Compared to most of you reading this post, however, I am either slightly richer or slightly poorer. So long as I work hard for my money, and so long as I have equal opportunity to better myself, it does not matter that I am relatively poor compared to Jeff Bezos. Neither does it matter if you are relatively poor compared to me. Fourth, while I may agree that Jeff Bezos could live on a few billion less, and agree that it would be morally good for Jeff Bezos to donate large sums of his money to charitable causes (as he, and many other rich people, do), that is a decision for Jeff Bezos to make – not me, and surely not the government.

So why do people cheer on the Left’s call to raise taxes on the rich? Let’s be honest with ourselves. It’s greed and envy. The equality desired by Socialism is rooted in greed and envy. The poor are envious of what the rich have. They wish they had that wealth for their own benefit. Socialism is the economics of envy (and oppression, since it requires oppression of the rich to take their money from them). Socialism is the politics of the mob. It’s much easier to have the government steal the money you desire from the rich than it is for you to pull off the heist yourself. This is especially the case in a democracy where the poor outnumber the rich. It’s a tyranny of the majority when the poor use government power to steal money from the rich. Shame on those who advocate for governmental theft under the guise of “economic equality.”

If you’re still not convinced that raising taxes on the rich is immoral, let me tell you why it’s impractical and will come back to bite you in the rear. Raising taxes even higher on the rich is near-sighted, and will negatively impact the poor in a number of ways. For example, “the rich” may be your employer, and if your employer has to pay more in taxes he will have less to pay you. You may get a pay cut, have your hours reduced, or be out of a job. Or, the employer will pass on the cost of this tax to the consumer in the form of higher prices. Either way, the poor end up paying when taxes get raised on the rich.

I’m in favor of equality. I’m in favor of equal opportunity, not equal outcome based on government coercion and theft. If you really believe in equality, you should advocate for lower taxes on the rich and higher taxes on the poor, not the other way around.

Let me end by addressing the “why are you dealing with politics?” objection. First, I think Christians ought to be involved with politics. Secondly, and more importantly, however, if you think this is just a political issue, you have missed the entire point of the article. The amount of money a government forces its people to hand over to them is a moral issue. Governments only have the moral right to take the amount necessary to pay for the essential services of governing. When they go beyond this, they are acting immorally and it is the responsibility of Christians to call them out for it.



[1]Erica York, “Summary of the Latest Federal Income Tax Data, 2020 Update”; available from; Internet; accessed 05 February 2021. There were 143.3 million federal taxpayers in 2017, with reported adjusted gross earnings of $10.9 trillion. This yielded $1.6 trillion in tax revenue (~15% of income).