King Benjamin was considered by many to be a faithful leader who served the people and encouraged the best conduct in the citizens of the kingdom. So how did King Benjamin and his people look to taxes as well as other groups that became under the rule of wicked king Noah?
In Mosiah 2:14 King Benjamin clearly states his desire as king to "serve (his people), that (the people) should not be laden with taxes, and that there should nothing come upon (the people) which was grievous to be borne." One of King Benjamin's characteristics as a righteous king was that he was not in his office for himself. His service was comprised of selfless acts done to keep a tax burden off the people. The opposite could be then implied of an unrighteous leader. That higher taxes don't serve the people but serve the desires of the leader and their government.
In fact later on in Mosiah 7:15 the people of Limhi, who were in bondage to a Lamanite king, felt their bondage through the payment of taxes. Their feelings of bondage were such that the people of Limhi stated that they would rather be slaves to Nephites than to pay burdensome taxes to the wicked king. To what degree did they consider their tax to be burdensome? In Mosiah 11:3, now under King Noah's rule it is stated that these people were "laid a tax of one fifth part of all they possessed, a fifth part of their gold and of their silver, and a fifth part of their ziff, and of their copper, and of their brass and their iron; and a fifth part of their fatlings, and also a fifth part of all their grain."
1/5 = 20% The bondage these individuals felt was a twenty % tax on everything. To compare that today, the IRS tax rates for 2009 were anywhere between 10-35 percent depending on income. Those that makes less money are at 10 %, and those at 35% make the most. So in modern day, it is not the poor who are being oppressed through taxes. This figure does not include state income taxes or other local taxes as well as property taxes or taxes on the sale of goods which is determined by state, county, and city body politics. The average effective or net tax rate of most middle class Americans is somewhere around 36 % with all things being calculated together. This means that on average we as a people are almost double the tax rate of the people of Limhi who felt in deep bondage, worse so than being slaves to another nation.
Depending on your interpretation of Pre-US history, the Boston Tea Party was due in part to a 3% tax or 3 pence per pound (if we are speaking to British pounds and not the weight measurement) for imported tea. The amount was not considered to be as significant as the idea of being taxed without representation but the amount had merit in their minds as well. Additionally paying a tax to the East India Tea Company rather than to a government increased hostility because there was nothing to be accounted for the tax; no services rendered and it was of no value or there was no return to the people in the tax. The money went away and was lost. In a way the same principles apply to the people of Limhi. Taxes were high as well the taxes represented no voice of the people and provided no services that were returned to the people.
So what has changed overtime to where we are at today? Is a 36 percent tax represent what we as a people want? Are we getting what we pay for? Is there taxations and representation, or are our taxes being paid to feed a political government who is wasting away and supporting laziness, idolatry, and whoredomes? "By the taxes which king Noah (or any government) had put upon (the) people; thus did (or are) the people labor(ing) exceedingly to support iniquity"? (Mosiah 11:6) Does a national health care system support the drug over doses and gender reassignment surgeries of its citizens as well as the welfare condition of the unemployed and unmotivated? Absolutely it does. Do our dollars go to government services or do they go to corporations and special interest groups who return favors for the politicians who pay them?
On one hand we have King Benjamin demonstrating proper governance to not burden the people through taxes and in serving the people's needs. On the other we see King Noah repressing the people through high taxation that supports iniquity and the desires of the king. Apply this today and see where history is repeating itself. The conditions in King Noah's time were described as follows, "Now the eyes of the people were blinded; therefore they hardened their hearts against the words of Abinidi, and they sought from that time forward to take him. And king Noah hardened his heart against the word of the Lord, and he did not repent of his evil doings." (Mosiah 11:29)
The words of the gospel and its prophets are clear. To care for one another's needs are admirable but are not to be borne through taxes and in the universal support of individual government sponsored iniquities. The desire to impose higher taxes on all to serve the needs of the few is WICKED; not just a bad idea but represent the characteristics of wicked leadership. Such a stance is in direct opposition to the righteous example of King Benjamin.
Many people today describe our society similarly to the people of King Noah's day in that they are blinded by their hardened hearts and their rejection of the Lord's council (ie, homosexual marriage issues, principles on charitable health care, etc.) I for one am grateful that we have the Book of Mormon to stand as a witness to more than the divinity of Jesus Christ, but stands as a reference to so much more in helping us to live life to its highest degree. We must stand aside from the philosophies of men mingled with scripture and keep it ALL in scripture. Proper governance cannot be determined in any other way.