Skip to comments.Top Ten Civil Liberties Abuses of the Income Tax
Posted on 09/20/2006 10:32:34 AM PDT by tpaine
Top Ten Civil Liberties Abuses of the Income Tax
by Chris Edwards
Any tax system creates a threat to individual liberty because "the power to tax involves the power to destroy," as Chief Justice John Marshall observed.
But the federal income tax and its enforcement harm civil liberties much more than necessary to raise needed funds for the government. Certainly, the IRS performs poorly and too easily abuses the rights of citizens. But ultimately Congress is to blame for creating an excessively complex and high-rate tax system.
New laws to increase taxpayer protections and replacement of the income tax with a simpler, flatter consumption-based tax could greatly reduce the following 10 areas of civil liberties abuse.
1. "Vertical" Inequality. Although equality under the law is a bedrock American principle, the income tax treats citizens unequally.
2. "Horizontal" Inequality. Even people with similar incomes are treated unequally by the many exemptions, deductions, credits, and other intricacies of the income tax.
3. Complexity, Ambiguity, and Uncertainty. Certainty in the law is a bulwark against arbitrary and abusive government. But there is no certainty under the income tax because it rests on an inherently difficult-to-measure tax base, uses no consistent definition of "income" or other concepts, and is a labyrinth of narrow and limited provisions created by politicians intent on social engineering. Individuals are baffled by the complex rules on capital gains, pension and savings plans, and a growing list of targeted incentives. Those complexities would be eliminated under a flat consumption-based tax system.
4. Huge Size and Instability of Tax Law. Citizens are required to know the nation's laws and comply with them. Yet federal tax rules are massive in scope and constantly changing. Tax laws, regulations, and related documentation span 45,662 pages.
5. Lack of Financial Privacy. The broad-based income tax necessitates a large invasion of financial privacy that a low-rate consumption-based tax could avoid. The IRS regularly gains access to a myriad of personal records, such as mortgage records, credit card data, phone records, banking and investment records, real property transaction data, and personal correspondence. This broad IRS authority to obtain records without court supervision has been referred to by the Supreme Court as "a power of inquisition."
6. Denial of Due Process. The Fifth Amendment right to due process is ignored in many respects by the federal income tax regime. Due process requires that government provide accused citizens a clear notice of a claim against them and allow the accused a hearing before executing enforcement action.
7. Shifting of the Burden of Proof. For non-criminal tax cases -- the vast majority of cases -- the tax code reverses the centuries-old common law principle that the burden of proof rests with the accuser. Except in some narrow circumstances, the IRS does not have to prove the correctness of its determinations. When the IRS makes erroneous assessments, as it often does, citizens carry the burden to prove that they are wrong.
8. No Trial by Jury in Tax Court. Despite Sixth and Seventh Amendment guarantees of trial by jury, the federal tax system carefully sidesteps such protections. To contest an IRS tax calculation prior to assessment, one must file a petition in the U.S. Tax Court. But since this is an administrative court, not an Article III court, no jury trial is required.
9. Unreasonable Searches and Seizures. In most situations, the Fourth Amendment guarantees that, before the government can search private property and seize records, it must demonstrate to a court that there is "probable cause" to believe that lawless conduct exists. However, the IRS's summons authority under tax code section 7602 allows it to obtain records of every description from any person without showing probable cause and without a court order.
10. Forced Self-Incrimination. The requirement to file tax returns sworn to under penalty of perjury operates to invalidate the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination. Citizens face a legal dilemma. On the one hand, refusing to file a return would expose a citizen to prosecution for failure to file. On the other hand, disclosing information sought in tax returns constitutes a waiver of Fifth Amendment protections. The IRS can and does release that information to federal, state, and local agencies for both tax and non-tax law enforcement purposes
Many conservatives on FR oppose such a tax.. Why?
I think property taxes need to be addressed first.
What the United States needs is another Tea Party!!!
Well obviously the kongress kritters are dragging their feet on it. I propose a tax revolt. Refuse to pay their damned taxes, and see how fast that they listen to the people then.
And much more dangerous then the federal imcome tax.
Lots of people refusing to pay taxes would probably just result in lots of people being shot and/or imprisoned and a different large group of people cheering about people getting "what they deserved" for trying to "get out of their duty and obligation as a citizen".
Just a few people doing that would be like you say, but if half the people in this country strapped on some balls and said no to taxes, then the numbers would be so great that the IRS could not function. They could not pay bills, they could not pay their own wages. Congress would then be faced with having to act responsibly. That is our Tea Party.
This was the one clinker in the list.
Fifth Amendment protections apply only to criminal cases. Almost all tax cases are civil cases (failure to pay a debt has always been considered a tort as opposed to a crime). One cannot be held to criminal court for an accurately filled-out tax form, even if the monies in question are the proceeds of illegal activities. (We actually had a case against a fence thrown out when I was a cop because we only his tax returns as evidence. D'OH!)
I have seen tax returns filled out by drug dealers, fences, and bookies. Some of them are actually pretty funny when it comes to "type of employment."
Drug dealer's employment: "Pharmaceutical Industry"
Fence: "Retail Goods."
Bookie: "Sports Forecasting & Consulting."
Enact a 'Prop.13' type tax in your State.
I agree with your tag line. Too bad it would be considered "extremist" by a large number of people in this country. I also like "IRS - America's gestapo".
Do away with tax in your state is a better thought.
We can pretend that enforcement agencies will not use tax info, but in effect: -- disclosing information sought in tax returns constitutes self incrimination.
If anyone would like to be added to this ping list let me know.
"The simplest system of taxation yet adopted is that of levying on the land and the laborer. But it would be better to levy the same sums on the produce of that labor when collected in the barn of the farmer; because then if through the badness of the year he made little, he would pay little. It would be better yet to levy it only on the surplus of this produce above his own wants. It would be better, too, to levy it, not in his hands, but in those of the purchaser; because though the farmer would in fact pay it, as the purchaser must deduct it from the original price of his produce yet the farmer would not be sensible that he paid it... What a comfort to the farmer to be allowed to supply his own wants before he should be liable to pay anything, and then to pay only out of his surplus."
Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1784. Papers 7:558
John Linder in the House(HR25) & Saxby Chambliss Senate(S25) offer a comprehensive bill to kill all federal income, SS/Medicare payroll, and gift/estate taxes outright replacing them with with a national retail sales tax administered by the states.
A bill to promote freedom, fairness, and economic opportunity by repealing the income tax and other taxes, abolishing the Internal Revenue Service, and enacting a national retail sales tax to be administered primarily by the States.
Refer for additional information:
A ping to yah all.
That's a great list.
Wonderful, informative post.
And we have not come very far in the last 230 years have we?
The income tax is income redistribution and confiscation of private property.
It is communism-lite.
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