Is the US Income-Tax Really legal?

Ah, April the 15th. Spring is in the air, with refreshing showers, warmer temperatures, birds returning from their winter havens, and everything feels renewed. It’s time to get the garden planted, and…..wait. There is a dark cloud on the horizon… April the 15th, Tax Day in the U.S. The federal governments idea of capital punishment. Using tactics that would make a Loan Shark proud, the Infernal (uh…Internal) Revenue Service shakes every American down for as much as they can legally get, and then some, all based on what income you had for the previous year. This is one of the most hated and reviled laws in the history of the United States.

Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution specifically gives Congress the power to impose taxes, imports, and duties, as long as they are uniform throughout the country. The courts of the time ruled that ‘uniform’ meant ‘apportioned fairly’, meaning that the tax had to be based on population. The governments first attempt to tax personal income was in 1861, with the passage of the Revenue Act of 1861. The purpose of this income tax was to pay for the U.S. half of the (un) Civil War, or as we like to refer to it around here, the War for Southern Independence. The tax lasted a year before it was repealed and replaced with a different tax. The next attempt to tax income was in 1894 with the Wilson-Gorman Tariff. The Supreme Court ruled parts of it unconstitutional, so in response, Congress passed the 16th Amendment, in 1913, which removed any limits on the governments power to tax personal incomes, and further defined what ‘income’ meant. Over the ensuing years, there have been many court challenges to the 16th Amendment, but so far, none of them have been successful.

It would seem that the law is clear. We may not like it. It may not be fair. But there is little question that it is legal, and it is the Law. So why do some people insist on making unfounded claims that the Income Tax is illegal? Haven’t the lawyers and courts already settled this a long time ago?

Apparently not to everyone’s satisfaction. There is a sub-culture within America known as the “Tax Protestor”. Some of the more famous ones are Joseph Bannester, William Benson, Phil Hart, Irwin Schiff, and even famous actor Wesley Snipes. They all cite various reasons why Americans don’t have to pay tax on their income. Most protestors do some jail time for failure to pay their taxes, or file.

The standard arguments against the Income Tax are:

  • The 16th Amendment was never properly ratified-false. Only 3 states, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Utah rejected the amendment. A ¾ majority was easily reached.
  • The 16th Amendment does not grant the power to tax income.-False, and ridiculous. The Amendment clearly uses the word ‘income’. The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration. There’s no ambiguity here.
  • Various arguments that the 16th Amendment violates other parts of the Constitution-again, completely unfounded. The 16th Amendment has been upheld by every court there is.
  • Citizens of the various states are not citizens of the United States, which is just the District of Columbia, and as such are not subject to being taxed by it-All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. Section One of the 14th Amendment. Since Federal Law supercedes State Law where Congress has the authority to legislate, then all state citizens are subject to the laws of the United States, as well as the benefits. Further, the United States is legally defined as the republic of 50 states, and the Federal District, as well as territories.
  • The Income Tax is not fair-You got me on this one. I couldn’t agree more. However, the 16th Amendment does not require fairness. Only compliance.

There are many other arguments, all equally ludicrous. Sometimes I think the courts entertain them just for some comic relief. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t like the Income Tax anymore than they do. I think it is unfair to punish someone with higher taxes just because they happen to be successful. Since they create most of the jobs for the rest of us, maybe they should be getting more tax-breaks as incentives to expand and create more jobs. A person shouldn’t have to pay more in tax just because they can. I would prefer a Federal Sales Tax on everything but food, clothing and shelter. That way, everyone who can afford anything other than the bare necessities of life would be paying into the system…drug dealers, gamblers, everyone who under the present system, slips through the cracks. Be that as it may, the Income Tax, and it’s requirements are the Law. If you don’t like it, then you can lobby your elected officials to have it changed.

If you are really convinced that the Income Tax is not legal, and refuse to pay your taxes, then you can have the satisfaction of knowing you have stood up for something you really believe in….while you are sitting in a jail cell, and losing your house, and other possessions. Changes cannot be made by breaking the law. They have to be made by legislation. The old saying “America-love it, or leave it…”, is not true. The saying should be “America-love it, or change it…”

And, if you do not vote, or participate in the process, then you are part of the problem. That’s how things have gotten to where they are right now, through apathy. Get out, register, and vote.
They’re your rights….Use ’em, or lose ’em.

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