(Update: the editor apologizes for incorrectly posting a rough draft of this post; here is the corrected draft. Petros)
Guest post by Anthony E. Parent, Esq., Tax Attorney, founder of IRSmedic.com
Years ago, when I was a Finance major, during our studies we were subtly encouraged to worship the Federal Reserve. Then in law school, were we subtly encouraged to worship the genius behind Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803), the seminal case that establish judicial review for constitution propriety. And later, as a tax law student, we were encouraged to be in awe of the vast public policy considerations placed over the ever expanding 16th Amendment, the essential prerequisite to the the US Federal income tax.
But then time goes on. The theories and idealism of school fades away as the real world intrudes more and more each day into one’s affairs in private law practice. Things get to a point and idealism so vanquished, one will properly tell clients the uncomfortable truth: “the last place to expect justice is in a court of law.”
Because now when I think about it, maybe the Federal Reserve wasn’t such a great idea. Seems to me that prior to the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, there were neither World Wars nor Great Depressions. Additionally, the obnoxious act of intentionally causing inflation and then taxing the phony gains that the inflation causes seems like double taxation — with at least one layer of representation missing. Seems to me that consolidating the country’s money supply into the hands of a private company composed of the most entrenched international players, well, that seems an intentional abdication of one of Congress’ duties actually mandated by the Constitution.
And maybe Marbury v. Madison was simply a passive-aggressive power grab that set the stage for additional power grabs by the Supreme Court down the line until we reach an absurd point in which wheat grown in one’s own back yard for one’s own personal consumption is actually interstate commerce. Yes, you can decide a case like Wickard v. Filburn, 317 US 111 (1942) against a man like Roscoe Filburn and still collect your check as a judge. Tar and feathers seem a more appropriate recompense.
And maybe all the tax jockeys that we were to hold in high regard and implementing all these important public policy questions aren’t all that special. Maybe they are just the enablers of the parasites, while being just smaller parasites themselves. Maybe they are the most dangerous of all as, well, judge for yourself, does this quote make sense to you?
…[The Tax Code is a] product of an unholy combine between statist intellectuals with visions of state-sponsored utopias, envious demagogues and the desire by established, wealthy interests to prevent any competition to their place and to offload business costs to an expanding regulatory welfare state.
Because, if my experience and this quote were a Venn diagram, it would look like one perfect fat circle. A big, fat, perfect circle with no beginning and no end.
And well anyway, what really got me thinking about all this unpleasantness was a recent 13th Amendment. Yes, the 13th Amendment. You know. The slavery amendment.
The facts generally go like this: Mr. Finbar McGarry was picked up on domestic assault charges. The bail was set too high for Mr. McGarry to post, so he was taken into state custody pending the outcome of the charges, as is customary when one can’t post bond.
In jail, Mr. McGarry was paid 25 cents an hour to work long days doing all sorts of miserable jobs in the laundry room. If he didn’t work, he would be placed into solitary confinement. So he brought an lawsuit claiming the state forced him to work in violation of the 13th Amendment.
Unbelievably – really – the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that because Mr. McGarry was not convicted, it was completely against the 13th Amendment to force someone to work under such “slave” conditions. The court ruled that the state can’t impose a work-sentence imprisonment on someone who has not yet exercised his right to a fair trial.
So there it is. The first imposition of the 13th Amendment in the Lord knows how long.
And yeah, I really missed the best part for last: The state involved in violating the 13th Amendment? Which state could it be? Those who know where the Second Circuit is located know it can’t be some supposed idealogical backwater like Alabama or Mississippi. Those who know where the Second Circuit knows that one needs to go real north and real blue. The State that has violated the 13th Amendment is…the State/People’s Republic of Vermont.
How could they do this? This is from the land of forward-thinking, fair- equitable, progressive (cf. progressive income tax rates), Vermont. Certainly an abolitionists’ paradise. Yet the truth is undeniable. The Second Circuit has demanded that Vermont cease from enslaving innocent people to do prisoners’ dirty laundry. The ironing is delicious (this is me, hoping the set-up for this pun worked).
Well again, this case, got me thinking. Dangerous thinking. I remember one of those excellent guides about public policy written by a whole team of impressive tax jockeys that went over the various supposedly stupid claims that taxpayers have made over the years to abscond from complying with the federal income tax.
Some of the more popular claims are that the 16th Amendment was never ratified. The 5th Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination. And one that I always breezed right by –— that the income tax is a tax on labor that violates the 13th Amendment as it is forced divestiture of labor.
And here’s the excerpt form the guide:
C. Contention: Compelled compliance with the federal income tax laws is a form of servitude in violation of the Thirteenth Amendment.
This argument asserts that the compelled compliance with federal tax laws is a form of servitude in violation of the Thirteenth Amendment.
The Law: …In Porth v. Brodrick, 214 F.2d 925, 926 (10th Cir. 1954), the Court of Appeals stated that “if the requirements of the tax laws were to be classed as servitude, they would not be the kind of involuntary servitude referred to in the Thirteenth Amendment.” Courts have consistently found arguments that taxation constitutes a form of involuntary servitude to be frivolous.
Well this argument is fairly stupid. The 13th Amendment was passed prior to the 16th Amendment (that is how our numbering system works). It is very difficult to put into text what would not be written for nearly 50 years later. Or to put it another way, the First Amendment does not mention the New York Times. So can the states ratify an amendment to eviscerate the right of the New York Times to publish?
Then the guide goes on to say that there is a host of other cases that supports their claim that the 13th Amendment does not bar the income tax. And instead of taking their words for it, I read the actual opinions.
In “Porth v. Brodrick, [t]he court described the taxpayer’s Thirteenth and Sixteenth Amendment claims as ‘clearly unsubstantial and without merit,’ as well as ‘far-fetched and frivolous.’” Surprisingly, this is the extent of the conversation. Or to put it another way, when explaining why the cases were frivolous, “Shut up, he explained.”
And so too are all the other authorities the IRS relies upon: United States v. Drefke, 707 F.2d 978, 983 (8th Cir. 1983), Ginter v. Southern, 611 F.2d 1226 (8th Cir. 1979), and Kasey v. Commissioner, 457 F.2d 369 (9th Cir. 1972).
There is nothing but conclusory statement after conclusory statement that 13th Amendment challenges to the US tax code are frivolous.
Why? Why the lack of curiosity in giving some basis? It is as if the courts have nothing better to say than “that’s the law because we say so.” Are we only left with a passive-aggressive power grab, obfuscating a lack of principle with black robes and precedent.
Not to say I couldn’t come up with some argument why the income tax is not in violation of the 13th Amendment’s prohibition on involuntary servitude. I am hardly a legal genius, but here’s a justification I can come up with:
The imposition of an income tax imposed upon individual’s income is not involuntary servitude as the very reason why the person was able to make money in the first place is because of the regulation and security that the income taxes other have paid provide.
There. That’s my best argument. But yeah, it kind of sounds like “You didn’t build that. Someone else made happen.”
And that’s probably why the courts prefer to stay silent about their reasons and heave the legitimate claim of forced labor back into the sprawling combine that is the US tax code.
In conclusion, my point is not that the income tax violates the 13th Amendment (even though it probably does, against individuals at least). But rather, my point that the issue of whether or not the US individual income tax create a form of impermissible forced labor is a very legitimate concern. Every American has the right to ask for an explanation, without fear of being belittled by the courts for bringing a ‘frivolous’ claim. I for one, would love to hear a reasoned, principled argument, correct on factual observations, on how the income tax does not violate the personal liberty guaranteed by 13th Amendment and the rest of the Constitution; this is an argument I have yet to see.
Confirmation bias is sweet, and this piece is as sweet as Swiss chocolate. I love it. Too bad the 30 year parasite can’t share this enlightenment with Mr. Parent.
When Karl Marx wrote his Manifesto, the 13th amendment had been written. I am sure he had never read it, because he was in Europe and we were 6,000 miles west, but he was in favor of the Government owning all means of production and confiscation, by the State, of all personal property. He was in favor of a graduated, progressive Income Tax. The United States had always adhered to the Capitalist model articulated by Adam Smith, written the same year we declared independence, called “The Wealth of Nations”. Marxists came here in the early 1900’s with the purpose of destroying the Capitalist System. Their descendants have done a superior job of destroying the capitalist system, using the 16nth amendment. I think the best argument that the 16nth amendment is enslavement is the way it is applied. Part of us have to pay while others collect, but never pay it. (Unequal treatment under the law) Not the thirteenth amendment, but a good argument, and it goes back to the Bill Of Rights.*
Having to pay taxes to a country where one does not live and has limited contact is a form of involuntary servitude. USPs living aborad already pay taxes where they live.
Anybody hoping that a Republican executive under Romney is going to change any of this had better pay some attention to what the Republican party did to squash any dissent from the liberty groups represented by Ron Paul:
“What happened in Tampa was a relatively genteel version of the undisguised Brownshirt-style thuggery that had been employed by Party operatives during the primaries. Witness what took place during Louisiana’s state GOP convention on June 2, where Henry Herford – the convention’s duly elected chairman – was feloniously assaulted by a thugscrum of four Shreveport Police Officers, who acted on the orders of the Quisling faction within the state Party.
Herford was hospitalized for a dislocated prosthetic hip. In keeping with standard procedure, the uniformed assailants filed spurious charges against the victim.
“They arrested me for … resisting arrest, and they never said I was under arrest,” Hereford commented after being released from the hospital. “And [they said] I didn’t leave when they told me to leave – but I never was told to leave.”
Herford, who underwent a CAT scan on his hip and received a painkiller injection, didn’t sign his arrest papers.
“I can’t sign anything while I’m on a narcotic, and I told the police that,” he explained.
Alex Helwig, a Ron Paul delegate and Chairman of the Rules Committee, made a formal motion to remove the chair. In a fashion reminiscent of a third world dictatorship, Helwig was seized by Shreveport Police and removed from the room. During his brief detention, Helwig suffered several broken fingers – a punishment favored by Mussolini’s Blackshirts – and when he returned to the event he walked with the aid of a cane.
@ConfederateH, the treatement of Ron Paul delegates by Romney’s people may give rise to a third party candidate. In a three way election it is really hard to say who would win. BTW, this is Rush Limbaugh’s greatest fear. Apparently Ron Paul has now repudiated the Republican party. This may become the first step towards a third party run, perhaps as the Libertarian candidate.
This morning I watched excerpts of Romney’s speech last night and I have to say I had a visceral angry reaction to him, with the middle fingers pointing straight at him. I honestly don’t care who wins the election. I think that Romney can only slightly lessen the speed with which the US falls off its fiscal cliff. Peter Schiff has now predicted that within two years the US will go back to the gold standard out of sheer necessity. The price of gold at the current supply of money vis-a-vis US gold reserves is about US $14,000 per oz of gold, last time I checked. This would be a severe devaluation of the currency but it would at least be backed by hard money–it would be the first time since 1974 when Nixon took the US off the gold standard.
Petros, at this point I would love to see a third party and with it a massive Romney loss, even if it means Obama wins. Obama is the president that the homelanders and the Canadians who love him so deserve. I also agree with you on gold and am tempted to unload the rest of my stocks and up my holding of PM’s.
I don’t think that the 16th Amendment created the income tax. The 16th Amendment was passed to allow for the taxation of income derived from property – such as rent. The problem was that after Pollock tax on this type of income was required to be apportioned.
“It did not take a constitutional amendment to entitle the United States to impose an income tax. Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan & Trust Co., 157 U. S. 429, 158 U. S. 601 (1895), only held that a tax on the income derived from real or personal property was so close to a tax on that property that it could not be imposed without apportionment. The Sixteenth Amendment removed that barrier. Indeed, the requirement for apportionment is pretty strictly limited to taxes on real and personal property and capitation taxes.” Penn Mutual
So the 16th didn’t amend the constitution to allow for taxation on wages. The government already had that power. Robert’s recent majority opinion on the ACA makes this clear as well.
” Upholding the individual mandate under the Taxing Clause does not recognize any new federal power. It determines that Congress has used an existing one.”
I think that the courts don’t want to waste their time addressing these frivolous claims. It’s that simple. and the SCOTUS has addressed similar claims elsewhere.
The government has the power to Tax. It has only been expanded by Robert’s recent decision. Sure – it’s sad, in a way, that some of the most important “laws” in this country are passed by 9 Supreme Leaders in black robes… but that’s the way it’s been. Since Marbury.
But you know that the government only taxes income when you choose to work no one is forcing you to work in order to pay over money to the government. And you also know that if you aren’t working, and you don’t own anything (besides whatever might be under your mattress and maybe a flatscreen tv, the government isn’t going to collect any taxes you owe.
I’m not a fan of having an income tax on wages myself… but I think as a general policy, the SCOTUS and the Tax Court have continued to send a consistent message to taxpayers (with the exception of certain Son of Boss regulations that attempted to extend the SOL on assessment by 6 years). It’s this: “Don’t mess with the IRS”
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