Random Rants, by Thomas Andrew Olson

Friday, April 14, 2006

An Uncomfortable Truth?

According to an article in CNN-Money today, Nor'easters get an extra day to file that dreaded 1040, because of one major IRS service center in Massachusetts, and an obscure policy regarding the 15th falling on Easter Weekend. So they're closed Monday, apparently.

Of course, it makes no difference to me. I personally think the whole thing is a scam and a fraud. Do I file? Sure - but that doesn't mean I believe for a moment it's my legal duty. It's just that the cost of not doing so is too high at this stage in my life.

Nevertheless, the media, the IRS, and H&R Block all have a big stake in preserving the status quo, so the propaganda machine cranks up full tilt this time of year. During the month of April, class warfare is also at an all time high, as the Powers That Be realize that taxpayers divided by income status will never unite to take down the System.

Here's what we all need to understand about the Income Tax:

There exist some very smart and principled people out there, who have spent (and risked) much of their lives in pursuit of an Uncomfortable Truth - they claim that there is, in fact, no actual law that requires US citizens who derive their incomes solely from sources within the United States, to declare that income on a form and pay income taxes.

These people derive their arguments from several different paths. Some take the "redress of grievances" approach, others claim the 16th Amendment was never legally ratified, someone compares income taxation to racketeering, and another school claims that a careful analysis of the IRS Code, and specific subsections thereof, conclude that while some income might be arguably taxable, the average income of the vast majority of working Americans is not.

I'm not going to go into the details of those arguments here - I gave you the links. You know how to use Google. You can look at/find the information yourselves and make your own determination. What I DO find interesting, however, is the government response to these anti-tax arguments.


Seems to me that, if these guys were simply uninformed nut jobs trying to weasel out of ponying up, a simple "showing of the law", in black and white, would've silenced all the critics decades ago. I mean ANY law. The tax code underwent significant revamping in 1913, 1922, 1937, 1954, and 1986. Show me any piece of legislation, written in any of those years, passed by a sitting Congress and signed by a sitting President, that mandates all citizens earning income in the US to file tax returns, and authorizes the IRS to enforce this through regulation. If they would just do that they would have a slam dunk. Lock 'em up, steal their stuff, end of story.

But the IRS never does that, and they never have. In response to reasoned, simple, non-threatening inquiries from taxpayers concerned about proper legal compliance, the IRS responds by first sanctimoniously declaring such inquiries "frivolous", then following up with citations of dozens of regulations and court decisions serving only to confirm that such inquiries are frivolous. The letter usually ends with veiled threats of action for non-compliance with tax "laws", none of which are ever mentioned.

My issue with all this stems from the core concept that "regulations" themselves are not LAW. "Court decisions", despite what some judges may believe, are not in and of themselves LAW. Regulations are written by bureaucrats as rules of conduct to enforce compliance with a law. Court decisions - again, at least in high-falutin' theory, Roe v. Wade notwithstanding - are supposed to be interpretations of a LAW applied to an individual case.

But both situations require at least ONE LAW - again, written by a legislature and signed by an executive - as a fundamental basis. The fact that the IRS will harass, threaten, arrest, try and imprison anyone who questions the tax "laws", but without ever citing a specific tax law themselves, as the authority for those actions, I think speaks volumes. Perhaps the tax protesters do have a point. They must feel like Galileo did when confronting the Catholic Church for heresy - or, perhaps more to the point - Giordano Bruno.

Because, like Bruno, anyone attempting to put the issue on public display, like Irwin Schiff or Larken Rose, ends up tormented, arrested, tried and imprisoned, their lives ruined for daring to speak an Uncomfortable Truth. (Of course Bruno was burned at the stake. Yet it is true that people have died as a result of IRS collection actions - some by direct confrontation, and others by suicide.) The irony is those convicted are not convicted of any actual violation of a specific tax law. It's always something around the fringe, like "willful failure to file", "obstruction of justice", or "selling an illegal tax avoidance scheme"

The real issue then, on Tax Day, is not the questionable legality of the income tax itself, but to what cruel, ruinous lengths government will go to perpetuate the illusion. That a government supposedly "of the people", established to protect the rights of all citizens equally under the law, behaves in precisely the opposite manner where taxation is concerned (just ask Walt Anderson).

We have been saddled with the income tax for so long now, that people have convinced themselves that it would be impossible to live without it. Neocons wouldn't be able to buy bombs for the Middle East and liberal-dems wouldn't be able to give away the farm to undocumented workers, without first extracting the cost in Other People's Money. And if you're a pol and can't give away unearned goodies, how are you going to buy votes every other year?

But, as Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) reminded us the other day, less than half the total tax collected in the US comes from the income tax. We could eliminate it tomorrow, and live solely off tariffs, excise, etc. if only we were willing to reduce government spending to 2000 levels. That's right. Y2K. Not 1970. This is not a huge chunk. Dr. Paul rightly posits that the more important problem is out of control government spending. Set that right, and we could certainly live within our means without an income tax, and all the lobbying, class warfare, and corruption that it brings.

But there is no one in Congress (besides Dr. Paul) with the courage to make that happen. They're already gearing up for hurricane season, and telling Ben Bernanke to keep the presses warm.

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    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:26 PM  

  • By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:02 AM  

  • You, sir, are an idiot if you really believe that we should not have to pay income taxes. You are suggesting that we decline into a state resembling a 3rd world country with badly maintained roads and horrendous public schools, ill maintained public transit, and the general breakdown of American Society as we know it? That's what all of the money that you give to the Gov. goes each year. Of course the mentally challenged conspiracy loons would tell you otherwise.

    By Anonymous 130IQMan, at 11:10 PM  

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