What did John Locke think about taxation?

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mrkirschner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

John Locke outlines his beliefs about taxation in his Second Treatise of Government (1690) in "Section 140." The basic premise of his philosophy is that all humans have the natural rights to life, liberty, and property. The issue of taxation needs to be discussed under the subject of the natural right to property since the governments seize property through tax policy.

Locke recognizes the need for the government to levy taxes in order to fund its operation. Locke feels that government should act as a protector to natural rights.  Citizens that reap the benefits of government should help fund those protections. For that reason, Locke believes that taxation is permitted by consent of the majority. Locke also allows an elected body of people to levy taxes but does not permit taxation without the ability to remove officials through elections. The founding fathers of the United States referenced these very ideas when writing the Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States.

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