This is a short primer on the differences between taxation and robbery. At times these two phenomena are sufficiently difficult to differentiate that perhaps such a discussion will be helpful. Feel free to append your own differences to the dozen provided:
1. Taxation is done by a group of people that claim to represent you. Robbers do not claim to represent you.
2. Taxes are used to provide services and goods to you that you may or may not value. Robbers leave with your money but do not return to offer you services. Should a corporation sell its product under premises like that of the government, it would be robbery.
3. Taxation is sometimes condoned by a theory of social justice, that those who have more should give to those who have less. Typically robbery fulfills the same purpose, as the robber often has less.
4. Robbers may attempt to intimidate you through the use of guns or violence. Actually, never mind, taxation works the same way.
5. Taxation is done based on some voting scheme wherein other people can decide whether or not to take away your things. Robbery is similar but not the same, because you aren’t one of the voters, only the robbers are. In practice this can be hard to differentiate, but there is still a theoretical difference.
6. Taxation is an obligation under the social contract. The one you signed at birth. Oh wait, you didn’t sign anything. Never mind.
7. Taxation starts with a ‘T’ while Robbery starts with an ‘R’.
8. Taxation is distortionary in that it typically taxes some particular activity or good, thus changing how you behave towards that good. Robbery may also be distortionary although typically not in as clear a manner.
9. Taxation may be justified under the theory that what you own is not really yours and so it can be taken from you. Robbers probably don’t think your stuff is theirs, they just want it.
10. Taxation is based on a well-defined schedule of payments. Robbery much less so.
11. The police will protect you from robbers while enforcing taxation laws. This is similar to the protection racket run by the mafia, but different because we have less control over the mafia and the police are much nicer people.
12. One should always pay one’s taxes promptly. Failure to do so will result in fines. Robbery usually does not impose interest rates on overdue theft.