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On the Taxation of Minors

HarshawnRatanpal · politics · opinion · 10/10/2020 · edited

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Many American values date back to our founding fathers. Along with the rights of “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”, the Declaration of Independence cites that a reason for forming the United States was because Britain was “imposing Taxes on us without [the colonies’] Consent.” The phrase “no taxation without representation” was a slogan often used during the late 1700s to protest the taxes levied upon the Thirteen Colonies by a parliament in which they had no say in. One could argue this was the primary reason the colonists seceded. 

Today, there are still taxes levied on those who do not have a say in the political process. Working minors contribute a part of their income to society, yet they are not allowed to vote. If it is agreed that those unrepresented in the legal system should not be taxed, as the founders argued, then working minors should either be allowed to vote or be exempt from income taxes. 

Arguments for voting rights based on this premise are not unprecedented. In the 1860s, American suffragette Sarah E. Wall started a protest movement by refusing to pay taxes until women were granted the right to vote. Just like the founders of her country nearly 100 years before her, she cited the principle of “no taxation without representation.” Similar arguments can be made for minors that are taxed. If an electorate is deciding what to do with an individual's money, then it seems it is only fair that that individual gets a say in it. After all, that is money that he earned, and it is not the money of anyone who is deciding what to do with it. With this, one can see how by taxing minors without giving them a vote, we’re exploiting the labor that many of them put forth into society.

A key difference exists in the case of minors and in the case of suffragettes though. When comparing women and men, most would agree that little difference exists in their capacity to make informed decisions. However, when comparing minors and adults, those less than 18 years old often lack the education or life experience to make decisions that shape society. So, in order to best remedy the issue of these minors being exploited without potentially undermining the political process, perhaps exempting working minors from income tax is a better solution.

Exempting minors from paying income tax eases the issue of unrepresentative taxing without the potential sacrifice of the integrity of our political system. It may not be a perfect solution, as consumption taxes are still levied on everyone, including people who do not have the opportunity to vote; however, it’s step in the right direction of avoiding hypocrisy. Just like the colonists and the American women after them who were used for the fruits of their labor, it appears that teens working after school, weekend and summer jobs are being taken advantage of as well. If we hope to stay true to the democratic ideals that founded and drive the nation, we ought to stop taxing working minors.

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