The chapter on tax rebellion in my forthcoming Resistance and Rebellion in the British Empire, 1600-1980, begins in the following way:
‘In late 1789, Benjamin Franklin wrote:
Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. 
….From when taxes were first levied, people have found ways to evade paying for reasons that have been honourable, ideological, greedy and selfish. People have evaded taxes illegally, some have resisted paying taxes and others have simply refused. Taxation is almost by definition unfair. It is imposed on people by government generally without consultation and is frequently used to pay for things of which people do not approve or do not need. Getting the level of taxation in society right, or at least politically acceptable, has always been a problem for government. If the level of taxation is set too low then it may have insufficient funds to rule effectively with the likelihood of the same consequences as setting taxes too high; anger, discontent and even resistance. ‘
How many of us if asked whether we would like to pay less tax would say no! How many of us if asked whether we would like to pay less tax in a scheme recognised by HMRC would say no! Most of us of course have no option but to pay our taxes since we cannot afford the fees paid by tax revenue experts who know the vagaries of taxation law to do this. But given the option, most of us would and it’s hypocritical to say we wouldn’t. Let us be clear, the amount of tax we pay is a legal question and if we use taxation law to avoid paying taxation that is legally acceptable. But is it morally acceptable or more accurately should taxation be subject to moral as well as legal rules? The past few years have seen the growth of moral pressure on individuals and institutions to ensure that they do not have unacceptably high levels of income or pay their ‘right’ level of taxation. Should we, as a society, ensure that people do not have unacceptably high incomes or avoid paying tax? Certainly. If so, how should we do this? Well not by moral pressure since it ensure that individuals and institutions are effectively shamed into earning less or paying more taxes. Moral pressure is arbitrary, generally ill-defined if defined at all and resembled the charivaris of the past, its scapegoats individuals and institutions. It makes good headlines in the media but does not address the real issue: if the law allows me to avoid paying tax or to earn exorbitant sums of money why should I not do so? If you don’t like taxation law as it stands, change the taxation law and stop whingeing when individuals and institutions act within the rules to pay less tax. We’d all do it given the opportunity.
 Franklin to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, 13 November 1789, Sparks, Jared, The Works of Benjamin Franklin, with Notes and a Life of the Author, 10 Vols. (Hilliard, Gray and Company), 1836-1840, Vol. 10, pp. 409-410. Daniel Defoe was the first author to use words to this effect in The Political History of the Devil, (T. Warner), 1726, p. 246, ‘Things as certain as death and taxes, can be more firmly believed.’