Five Reasons You Don't Owe Income Tax, Dammit!

The most heartfelt beliefs of the "tax honesty" movement.


Here are some of the core arguments against the legality of the income tax one finds in the tax honesty movement. Devotees probably would regard them as oversimplifications. This is certainly not an all-inclusive list.

1) The IRS declares in various documents that the income tax is "voluntary." And in Flora v. U.S. (1960), the Supreme Court announced, "Our system of taxation is based upon voluntary assessment and payment."

2) In Brushaber v. Union Pacific (1916), the Supreme Court declared that "the conclusion that the 16th Amendment provides for a hitherto unknown power of taxation" is "erroneous," and thus the 16th Amendment did not give Congress any taxing powers it did not already have. Hence, an unapportioned direct tax such as the income tax still cannot be legal. (Most mainstream readings of this extremely hard-to-follow decision say the Court meant Congress always had the power to levy an income tax, and that it was merely the question whether it should have to be apportioned that was at issue.)

3) Income, for the purposes of the tax code, should not be understood in any "common sense" way but only as defined by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, in Merchant's Loan and Trust Company v. Smietanka (1921), defined it as having the same meaning as in the Corporation Excise Tax of 1909-and as Irwin Schiff has written, "nothing that was received by private persons was taxable as 'income' under that Act." Income is defined as "gain derived…from labor" in a previous Supreme Court decision, Stratton's Independence v. Howbert (1913).

4) Title 26 of the U.S. Code, in which tax-related statutes are found, is inherently "void for vagueness" because it lacks precise definitions of such terms as state, United States, employee, and person. Again, "common sense" definitions aren't good enough. (Many tax honesty types interpret the use of the word includes in the tax code as properly meaning, "is limited to.")

5) According to the tax-honesty reading of U.S. Code 26, Section 861, only income from foreigners or from overseas activity appears to actually be subject to the income tax.

NEXT: Priorities

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  1. A more in-depth analysis of the Brushaber decision:
    Beware of Income Tax Causistry Part I, Part II

  2. and Part III by Sheldon Richman

  3. Most tax honesty individuals (and I being one) use the stanton vs baltic mining supreme court case, in which the court said the 16th amendment conferred no new powers of taxation. But what many don't know is why this is true.
    To understand this you have to understand the term INCOME as it is defined by law. The term INCOME is defined in the corporate tax act, as PROFITS and gains from corporations. The supreme court in Peck & Co. v. Lowe 247 U.S. 165, 172 (1918)clarified that the term INCOME has no broader meaning other then what was defined in the corporate tax act of 1909.

    The word Includes in statutory law is actually to enlarge a term. Not to add more terms. This would violate the maxim of law " The inclusion of one, is the exclusion of all others."

    The Federal Registrar defines Includes as;

    Treasury Decision 3980, Vol. 29, January-December, 1927, pgs 64 and 65

    "(1) To comprise, comprehend, or embrace?
    (2) To enclose within; contain; confine?

    But granting that the word 'including' is a term of enlargement, it is clear that it only performs that office by
    introducing the specific elements constituting the enlargement. It thus, and thus only, enlarges the otherwise
    more limited, preceding general language?The word 'including' is obviously used in the sense of its
    synonyms, comprising; comprehending; embracing."

    The determining word is, of course the word 'including.' It may have the sense of addition, [221 U.S. 452, 465]
    as we have seen, and of 'also;' but, we have also seen, 'may merely specify particularly that which belongs to
    the genus.' Hiller v. United States, 45 C. C. A. 229, 106 Fed. 73, 74.

    "...The court also considered that the word 'including' was used as a word of enlargement, the learned court
    being of opinion that such was its ordinary sense. With this we cannot concur. It is its exceptional sense, as
    the dictionaries and cases indicate. We may concede to 'and' the additive power attributed to it. It gives in connection with 'including' a quality to the grant of 110,000 acres which it would not have had,-the quality of selection from the saline lands of the state. And that such quality would not exist unless expressly conferred we
    do not understand is controverted. Indeed, it cannot be controverted...."
    [Montello Salt Co. v. Utah, 221 U.S. 452 (1911)]

    American Surety Co. of New York v. Marotta, 287 U.S. 513 (1933)

    "In definitive provisions of statutes and other writings, 'include' is frequently, if not generally, used as a word of extension or enlargement [meaning "in addition to"] rather than as one of limitation or enumeration.

    Within the Internal Revenue code they try to define includes as to mean any and all things not listed within the definition. This as seen by the above courts is incorrect.

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