What Is the Definition of Taxation Without Representation?

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Taxation without representation is the imposition of taxes on citizens without the consent or representation of the citizens. Taxation without representation also refers to the general sentiment of colonists prior to the American Revolution. At that time, taxes were created by the English parliament and imposed upon the colonists without their consent, and they had no representation within parliament.

Several laws passed by the English parliament led to taxation without representation, such as the Townsend Acts, enacted in 1767. These acts imposed taxes on commodities such as lead, paint, paper and tea that were imported to the colonies. Another example is the Stamp Act, which taxed colonists for making certain kinds of business transactions. Taxation without representation was ultimately one of the reasons that colonists drafted the Declaration of Independence. In the second half of this document, specific grievances are listed, including taxation without representation.

More recently, taxation without representation has become the slogan for the District of Columbia voting rights movement. At issue is the fact that residents of the District of Columbia do not currently have representation in the House of Representatives or the Senate. Rather, this area is considered to be a federal district governed by Congress.