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Congress Will Hold Hearing: Is Income Tax Legitimate?
July 23, 2001 4:56 PM   Subscribe

Congress Will Hold Hearing: Is Income Tax Legitimate? Robert Schulz’s We The People Foundation announced that the Justice Department and the U.S. Congress had committed in writing to appear in a recorded public meeting with IRS representatives. There they will officially answer charges challenging the legal jurisdiction of the IRS and the illegal enforcement of U.S. income tax laws against U.S. citizens.
posted by dagny (31 comments total)

 
Thanks for bringing that to our attention. Should make for some interesting C-span. I'll have to take the day off.
posted by revbrian at 5:03 PM on July 23, 2001


Anagram: WE THE PEOPLE FOUNDATION = HOW I PEED ON PETULANT FOE.
posted by swell at 6:35 PM on July 23, 2001


It certainly is interesting with regard to income tax.

Income tax was first introduced in most countries as a temporary measure. In Britain, I believe, it was first introduced to help pay for the Crimean War.

Still governments (by definition) will continue to tax the population. If they did manage to get income tax abolished, then the government would just have to shift to more indirect taxes, consumption taxes etc.

This will be a great thing for high income earners but bad news for everyone else.
posted by lagado at 6:45 PM on July 23, 2001


If we don't have taxes to pay then the GOP will not have anything to bitch about--the liberals taxing and spending etc. I got my 600 bucks back the other day. Now they can send me the rest plus interest.
posted by Postroad at 7:06 PM on July 23, 2001


This will be a great thing for high income earners but bad news for everyone else.

You say potatoe, I say po-tah-toe. Equating the words "impartial", "objective", "equal" and "fair" with "regressive" and "a good thing for high earners but bad for everyone else" is, in my opinion, one of the most brilliant and successful examples of reframing the issue that I've seen in a vary long time.
posted by gd779 at 7:20 PM on July 23, 2001


It's a personal view for certain gd779.

I never would suggest for a second that income tax is fair but I consider consumption taxes to be worse for peope who are already struggling.
posted by lagado at 7:39 PM on July 23, 2001


In Britain, I believe, it was first introduced to help pay for the Crimean War.

War against revolutionary France in 1792, actually.

The notion of wholly replacing income taxes with sales taxes, though, is utter bobbins: I'm sure that lagado can tell you about the impact of GST in Australia, and the popular mood in the UK is to shift from "stealth" taxes to income tax.

So, should anyone wish to offer odds on the answer to the thread's question being "yes", I'd be glad to take them.
posted by holgate at 7:41 PM on July 23, 2001


Even if there had never been World Wars, the US would almost certainly be using an income tax today. In the 19th century, we relied primarily on tariffs to pay for our government. In the globalized system of today, such a plan would be unfeasible.
posted by Kevs at 7:56 PM on July 23, 2001


There goes holgate, doing that "history" thing he does. Wacky! He's like the Michael Jordan of Metafilter! :)
posted by hincandenza at 9:27 PM on July 23, 2001


Yes he does seem to have read a book or two that fellow.
posted by lagado at 9:39 PM on July 23, 2001


If it's not the 1700s, I'm screwed, kids.
posted by holgate at 2:06 AM on July 24, 2001


And if it is the 1700s - can we watch?
posted by m.polo at 5:59 AM on July 24, 2001


Nah: not after what that de Sade bloke wrote last time.
posted by holgate at 6:28 AM on July 24, 2001


but if they get rid of income taxes will I still be able get a 300 dollar tax refund?
posted by panopticon at 6:54 AM on July 24, 2001


I personally think they should completely get rid of income tax, and instead tax goods and services with more sales tax.

After all, how many rich people don't buy anything?

I think if there was a 25% sales tax on everything, but absolutely no income tax, a lotta people who live below their means would be very happy.. and all of those spend-happy sorts would have more money to be spend-happy with ;-)

Is it 'fair' to tax someone more highly for being successful? Probably not. We should all bear an equal responsibility. In that way, sales tax is extremely fair. If you spend lotsa money, you pay lotsa tax. If you don't want to spend much money and pay tax, that's your choice. It's fair.
posted by wackybrit at 7:16 AM on July 24, 2001


It's kind of annoying when people claim the income tax is unconstitutional, when it was legitimately ammended to allow for it. Unlike today, when people disagree with a part of the Constitution, they just say "ignore it" because they think their cause is more important. Those people piss me off. I had one person tell me we should get rid of innocent until proven guilty in rape cases, because who cares about the Constitution when women are being raped... ok, that's off topic, but yeah.
posted by dagnyscott at 7:16 AM on July 24, 2001


From Mr. Shultz's press release:

to officially answer to charges challenging the legal jurisdiction of the IRS and the illegal enforcement of U.S. income tax laws against U.S. citizens.

Sorry.... this should make it quite clear that income taxes are NOT illegal...the 16th Amendment:

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

Q: So how does Mr. Shultz argue his way around the fact that the Constitution itself mandates what he so vehemently protests as illegal and unconstitutional? Back to the press release:

Since 1787, the mechanism for an orderly and peaceful transition to a legal tax system has resided in Article 1 Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution. This is a states' Rights issue.

A: He completely ignores the 16th Amendment! Article 1 Section 9 of the Constitution says this: No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census of Enumeration herein before directed to be taken. Yet look at what the 16th Amendment says....Article 1 Section 9 has clearly been superceded.

This is beautiful...A die-hard conservative/libertarian, an ideology defined by their veneration of the strictest interpretation of the Constitution, is now completely ignoring one of its Amendments. Maybe it just doesn't count because it wasn't one of the first ten?
posted by thewittyname at 7:17 AM on July 24, 2001


They argue that the 16th amendment wasn't correctly ratified or enacted (or something), thewittyname.
posted by dagny at 7:19 AM on July 24, 2001


After all, how many rich people don't buy anything?

Yes, but do they consume 99% of their income like the poor do? Consumption taxes hit low income earners.
posted by lagado at 7:38 AM on July 24, 2001


A pure sales tax is often considered a regressive tax on the principle that those with lower incomes have to spend a greater portion of their income on the basic necessities of life like food and clothing. We could go back and forth all day in an attempt to define "fair".
posted by harmful at 7:41 AM on July 24, 2001


We could go back and forth all day in an attempt to define "fair".

And we will!
posted by Skot at 7:49 AM on July 24, 2001


From the House of Representatives website (I apologize for the formatting in advance):

The sixteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States was proposed to the legislatures of the several States by the Sixty-first Congress on the 12th of July, 1909, and was declared, in a proclamation of the Secretary of State, dated the 25th of February, 1913, to have been ratified by 36 of the 48 States. The dates of ratification were: Alabama, August 10, 1909; Kentucky, February 8, 1910; South Carolina, February 19, 1910; Illinois, March 1, 1910; Mississippi, March 7, 1910; Oklahoma, March 10, 1910; Maryland, April 8, 1910; Georgia, August 3, 1910; Texas, August 16, 1910; Ohio, January 19, 1911; Idaho, January 20, 1911; Oregon, January 23, 1911; Washington, January 26, 1911; Montana, January 30, 1911; Indiana, January 30, 1911; California, January 31, 1911; Nevada, January 31, 1911; South Dakota, February 3, 1911; Nebraska, February 9, 1911; North Carolina, February 11, 1911; Colorado, February 15, 1911; North Dakota, February 17, 1911; Kansas, February 18, 1911; Michigan, February 23, 1911; Iowa, February 24, 1911; Missouri, March 16, 1911; Maine, March 31, 1911; Tennessee, April 7, 1911; Arkansas, April 22, 1911 (after having rejected it earlier); Wisconsin, May 26, 1911; New York, July 12, 1911; Arizona, April 6, 1912; Minnesota, June 11, 1912; Louisiana, June 28, 1912; West Virginia, January 31, 1913; New Mexico, February 3, 1913.

Ratification was completed on February 3, 1913.

The amendment was subsequently ratified by Massachusetts, March 4, 1913; New Hampshire, March 7, 1913 (after having rejected it on March 2, 1911).

The amendment was rejected (and not subsequently ratified) by Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Utah.


36 states out of 48, that is three-fourths of the states, as required.

But wait: here is the other side of the story. According to an article on freerepublic.com their were several problems with the way the amendment was handled in certain states:

Of the 48 states, here's the story:

----Eight states (Rhode Island, Utah, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Kentucky, Florida, Virginia and Pennsylvania) did not approve or ratify the amendment.

----Texas and Louisiana were forbidden by their own state constitutions to empower the federal government to tax.

----Vermont and Massachusetts rejected the amendment with a recorded voice count, and only later declared it passed without a recorded vote after the amendment was declared ratified by Knox.

----Tennessee, Ohio, Mississippi, California and Washington violated their state constitutions in their ratification procedures.

----Minnesota did not send any copy of its resolution to Knox, let alone a signed and sealed one, as required.

----And Oklahoma, Georgia and Illinois made unacceptable changes in wording. (Some of the above states also made such changes, in addition to their other unacceptable procedures.)

Take 48 states, deduct these 21, and you have proper ratification by only 27 states-- far less than the required 36.


EXCEPT: That it doesn't matter that Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Ohio, Mississippi, California and Washington violated their state constitutions (if they ever did so in the first place). They were ratifying a federal amendment, and thus, were bound by the federal constitution in ratifying it. There are literally dozens of artifacts in state constitutions that are completely illegal (but which have never been amended) because of things in the federal constitution make then unenforceable. Example: In the Texas state constitution, it says that no atheist may hold a public office. Obviously, this isn't enforceable, but it is there.....So, that brings us back to 32 states...

...and lo, behold Vermont and Massachusetts, both of whom ratified the amendment. They did so after it had been declared ratified, but pass it they did, and that brings the count back to 34.

I'm no lawyer, and I would like to hear their opinion on this matter...gd779? others?

However, I do think that the freepers argument falls pretty flat when given an even cursory examination. All in all, I think the 16th amendment is legitimate, and that Rep. Roscoe Bartlett and Rep. Henry Hyde should have better things to do with their time......like looking into dealing with stuff like this.
posted by thewittyname at 7:50 AM on July 24, 2001


wackybrit: I assume you'd be happy to pay 25% VAT on food, books and children's clothes, then? Oh, and on petrol, too.

The whole "stealth tax" argument was actually one of the few areas in which the Tories won the argument in the 2001 election: indirect taxation is insidious and inequitable. Even those countries with high sales taxes acknowledge their effect upon the poor by having exemptions for essentials.

Is it fair to tax someone highly for being successful? It's fair to tax them proportionately: success doesn't occur in a social vacuum.
posted by holgate at 7:51 AM on July 24, 2001


The problem with the consumption/sales tax replacing income tax is that it discourages instead of encourages consumption, an idea which with our corporate-run government would get nowhere today.
posted by donkeymon at 7:57 AM on July 24, 2001


wackybrit: I assume you'd be happy to pay 25% VAT on food, books and children's clothes, then? Oh, and on petrol, too.

25% isn't much more than the 17.5% ride we're being taken on already. However, I was talking from a US perspective, where sales taxes are far lower than those in the UK.

Talking about taxes from a UK perspective is pointless, they're already too high, there's no need to put them up! We have higher income tax rates and higher sales tax rates than the US.

And our transport, health and education systems are in worse shape too.. boy, are we seeing a return on our high taxes or what!? No, we're not.
posted by wackybrit at 8:07 AM on July 24, 2001


And our transport, health and education systems are in worse shape too.. boy, are we seeing a return on our high taxes or what!? No, we're not.

High taxes? Not compared to continental Europe, where they get the services to match. I'd much rather the political parties in the UK wake up and realise that this isn't the 1980s, and that people are no longer voting simply with their wallets.

As for "worse shape"? Well, based on anecdotal evidence that my girlfriend pays $50 a month for her prescription, endures the three-hour Hartford-NYC train ride every month, and has a mother who teaches in an underfunded public school in Atlanta, I beg to differ.

And even in most states of the US, there's a lower rate of sales tax for food, once again acknowledging that indirect taxation disproportionately affects those in low incomes, who pay the lowest rates of income tax.
posted by holgate at 8:22 AM on July 24, 2001


And even in most states of the US, there's a lower rate of sales tax for food, once again acknowledging that indirect taxation disproportionately affects those in low incomes, who pay the lowest rates of income tax.

That's a fair assumption, and probably true. But I'm a Libertarian and I don't believe in taxes anyway, so I'll duck out of the whole 'is income tax good?' argument at this stop.

However, perhaps there is a way of helping the poor via high taxes. Just jack up the price of cigarettes and alcohol so that the poor can't buy them and instead spend their money on food and other necessaries. It'd cut crime too.

Oh well, I tried. If you're a smoker, just be thankful I'm not going into politics!
posted by wackybrit at 8:38 AM on July 24, 2001


It seems this entier debate on the legality of income taxes comes from what is today known as "strict constructionalists." These folks look at history and make some convenient end runs on the founding of our country.
They adopt their doctrine from individuals who opposed the writing and adoption of our Constitution in the first place. Those who favored a "confederation" rather than a strong federal government. Many believe had they succeeded in the goal of having a looser confederation that the US would not have survived until today. It seems incongrous to me to define the Constitution through the eyes of those who opposed it.
Those guys lost, Jefferson and friends won. Get over it! I realize the topic keeps arising because of the historical revisionism of Jefferson Davis and his "it was about states rights" ilk but it is, in my opinion, wrong headed.
posted by nofundy at 8:46 AM on July 24, 2001


Its is really hard to get into a debate over the Constitution with the more hardcore constructionists. Some of the most ardent supporters of this line deny the legitimacy of any Amendments after the Bill of Rights. It is like debating someone on social policy who bases all their opinions on some "direct" interpretation (read their interpretation) of the Bible. If you happen to not believe in the Bible, or even in their supposedly "obvious" interpretation they deny any legitimacy to your argument. Such logic is wonderfully circular. (My argument is right, you're argument is obviously wrong because you don't agree with my argument, which is, of course, right.)

Oh...and before anyone else get's their panties in a knot, let me be the first to admit that hardcore ideologues of all stripes engage in this behavior. It is certainly not limited to either the right or the left.
posted by edlark at 10:46 AM on July 24, 2001


Gephardt hints at increase in taxes
posted by dagny at 3:28 PM on July 24, 2001


However, perhaps there is a way of helping the poor via high taxes. Just jack up the price of cigarettes and alcohol so that the poor can't buy them and instead spend their money on food and other necessaries. It'd cut crime too.

It might be seen as a little like pricing heroin out of the reach of those who use it.
posted by lagado at 4:52 PM on July 24, 2001


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