There are two kinds of people on tax day: Those who dutifully fill out the income-tax form, and those who don't.
The vast majority of Americans fall into the first group. But the Internal Revenue Service, apparently not interested in seeing the second group grow, has an 83-page manifesto titled "The Truth About Frivolous Tax Arguments."
"Frivolous" in this case means "won't stand up in court."
The IRS report covers 42 "contentions" that the agency says are frivolous. Here's a sampling:
- The filing of a tax return is voluntary.
- The IRS must prepare federal tax returns for a person who fails to file.
- Federal Reserve Notes are not income.
- The “United States” consists only of the District of Columbia, federal territories, and federal enclaves.
- Taxpayer is not a “person” as defined by the Internal Revenue Code, thus is not subject to the federal income tax laws.
- Taxpayers can refuse to pay income taxes on religious or moral grounds by invoking the First Amendment.
- Federal income taxes constitute a “taking” of property without due process of law, violating the Fifth Amendment.
- The Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was not properly ratified, thus the federal income tax laws are unconstitutional.
- A tax assessment (in due-process cases) is invalid because ... the Form 23C was not personally signed by the Secretary of the Treasury.
In these and other cases, the IRS says the result can be summed up in the old lyrics, "I fought the law, and the law won." The agency's report, from earlier this year, enlists legal precedents to suggest that people with these or other reasons for noncompliance aren't likely to get very far.
An IRS spokesman didn't have data on how many people resist paying taxes. By some estimates in recent years, the number may be been about 10,000.
At one point in US history, an income tax really was unconstitutional. Although income tax was in place during the Civil War, in 1895 the US Supreme Court struck down a new levy on income, according to the Tax Foundation in Washington.
Then, in 1913, the 16th amendment to the Constitution gave Congress power "to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census of enumeration."
Springtime hasn't been the same, financially, since.
Also in Tax Day 101:
Part 8: 42 excuses you can't use to avoid filing IRS forms