theunemploymentchronicles

IS THERE A LAW TO PAY INCOME TAX?

In Work Series on October 17, 2009 at 9:06 pm

I just got paid this week and have officially joined the Tax Paying Club.  After moaning about the tax deductions, one of my coworkers said that there is no formal law out there that says we have to pay taxes. Of course, if we don’t, the IRS will chase us down and send us to jail, but legally, there is no law in existence that says we have to pay taxes.  On one hand, those that support income tax argue that the Internal Revenue Code, Title 26, is the law (the United States Code is the collection of laws passed by the legislature and signed by the executive) and that the 16th amendment validates income tax:

U.S. Constitution, amendment XVI
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.

On the other hand, those unsupportive of income tax argue that no statute exists.   Under Article 1 and 2 of the U.S. Constitution direct taxes, (i.e. income tax) should be apportioned according to population, which it is currently not (we are taxed on personal income rather than how many people in our state):

U.S. Constitution, Article I , § 2:
Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers . . .

Secondly, Amendment 16 was never ratified. Thirdly, income tax is an indirect excise/privilege tax (Congress can change the value of the tax anytime) therefore it is unconstitutional by the very fact that it contradicts the intentions of those who drafted the 16th amendment (which was to limit feds taxing power).  And, fourthly, in order to tax, the law must specify three things: subject, amount, and entities liable for tax.  Here is list of laws that do.

The debate is ongoing.  In fact, in 2007, the IRS lost a court case to prove tax liability.

The winning lawyer, Tom Cryer says, “I think now people are beginning to realize that this has got to be the largest fraud, backed up by intimidation and extortion and by the sheer force of taking peoples property and hard-earned money without any lawful authorization whatsoever.”

Furthermore, an article in April 2009 states that a whopping 43.4 % of Americans are no longer paying their taxes.

According to the article:

As a candidate, President Obama promised still more tax credits, including ones aimed at child care, “clean cars,” and savings accounts. As the Wall Street Journal explained at the time: “You can receive these checks even if you have no income-tax liability. In other words, they are an income transfer – a federal check – from taxpayers to nontaxpayers. Once upon a time we called this ‘welfare,’ or in George McGovern’s 1972 campaign a ‘Demogrant.'”

This raises the concern that if people aren’t paying taxes, they may take advantage of government benefits and think that everything is free, which leads to laziness and free riding, and irresponsible voting for the candidate that promises the most “benefits.”

The tax issue is one of the biggest debates between Democrats and Republicans.  Is it fair to force taxpayers to support social programs that support non tax payers through income tax?  Is it morally wrong to forget about those who are not as well off and need government assistance?



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  1. paying income tax is our responsibility, so the goverment can function. I just do not want they spend the tax money for unnecessary travel and spending.

  2. The debate is ongoing. In fact, in 2007, the IRS lost a court case to prove tax liability.

    Actually, Tommy Cryer (somehow) convinced the court that he was not wilfully evading taxes; that’s really not the same thing at all.

    • Thanks for that correction. Again, we are not experts but are welcome to constructive clarification!

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