“The interest of the government is to tax heavily: that of the community is, to be as little taxed as the necessary expenses of good government permit.” J.S. Mill, Considerations on Representative Government.1861
“The very principle of constitutional government requires it to be assumed that political power will be abused to promote the particular purposes of the holder; not because it always is so, but because such is the natural tendency of things, to guard against which is the especial use of free institutions.” J.S. Mill, Considerations on Representative Government.1861
“In constraining any system of government, and fixing the several checks and controls of the constitution, every man ought to be supposed a knave, and to have no better end, in all his actions, than private interest.” David Hume, ‘Of the Independency of Parliament’, Essays, Moral, Political and Literary.1752
“It is better to keep the wolf out of the fold, than to trust to drawing his teeth and claws after he shall have entered.” Thomas Jefferson, ‘Notes on Virginia’. 1782
“No doubt the raising of a very exorbitant tax, as the raising as much in peace as in war, or the half or even the fifth of the wealth of the nation, would, as well as any gross abuse of power, justify resistance in the people.” Adam Smith, Lectures on Jurisprudence. circa 1750.
From the perspective of public choice, it is sensible to view government as a malignant Leviathan with respect to its taxation powers. The fewer and the narrower the tax bases, the more easily can the individual escape the tax burden by behavior modifications. The more numerous and the wider the tax bases, the less easily can the individual escape the clutches of this Monster. When all such avenues are closed, outward migration or resistance are all that are left to those who love freedom and abhor coercion.
For those who are concerned about current conversations in the United States about tax-base widening, or about progressivity enhancements within existing tax bases, I recommend the following prescient book:
Geoffrey Brennan and James M. Buchanan, The Power to Tax. Cambridge University Press, 1980.