These days, there are numerous arguments on the web that pretend to show that the income tax is not owed by the majority of Americans. Congress continues to up the penalties for the foolish Americans who fall for those arguments, and the IRS puts out "debunking" releases every year around tax time. Here's the latest: The Truth About Frivolous Tax Arguments, an 83-page document from the IRS noting the most common arguments made and the legal responses to those arguments. The document also carries a warning--the 40 cases litigated in 2009, with injunctions against preparers and promoters of frivolous tax schemes.
But the anti-tax crowd hasn't really gone away. PLEASE BE WARNED THAT MOST OF THE MATERIALS DESCRIBED IN THIS PARAGRAPH ARE PUSHING MISTAKEN INFORMATION--EVEN HOAXES-- ABOUT THE INCOME TAX. DO NOT RELY ON THE INFORMATION ON THE FAMILY GUARDIAN WEBSITE. Look, for instance, at the garbage at the "Liberty University" (not connected, apparently, with Galwell) website with its anti-tax propaganda galore, at this link. People reading this website material, if not educated and informed about taxes, could easily be misled into thinking that this material is truthful. Family Guardian's home page says that it is a "nonprofit Christian religious ministry dedicated to protecting people from extortion, persecution, expolitation, socialism, divorce, crime and sin." It is loaded with misleading and false information: click on the "DOJ Found guilty" link to see a "department of god's justice" press release or the "Evidence of a Massive Hoax" link to see numerous anti-tax items. Look at the video on how to retain 100% of your earnings, and you'll see a CEO of Arrow Plastics, Richard Simkanin, who decided not to withhold on his employees' wages. Simkanin was convicted in 2004. See Federal Jury Convicts Richard Simkanin, DOJ press release. But the "family guardian" site is still there, still filled with lots of materials, still pushing the view that taxation is theft. And back at the "Liberty University" link (the first link in the paragraph), click on "basics of taxation" and you will see the essence of the anti-government, anti-tax, misleading, propagandistic misinformation that is being fed to people at websites claiming to be sources of truthful information. There are a number of "hidden" links for which you have to get access through this so-called "Liberty University" (disclaimer says it is not associated with Falwell's institution) or purported "sovereignty education and defense ministry" that includes a big disclaimer (presumably to try to protect themselves from arrest for aiding and abetting false tax return filings). Most of the "information" items linked are truly scandalous--they are phrased in terms of avoiding false arguments (where the IRS has rebutted the simplest form of the anti-tax scam argument) but then offer a "corrected" argument that just takes the scam one level higher. See, e.g., this "article" on trade or business issues, which claims that one has to be engaged in a trade or business-- which the article defines as holding a "public office" which the article claims is generally only applicable to those who live in the District of Columbia--in order to be required to pay income taxes. Pure distortion, but being blatantly pushed out by these organizations.
This shows the dangerous side of the web--anonymous nonsense posted by anyone who has access to a computer, that can be funded by untraceable deep pockets almost anywhere, and can be used to push ignorant and uninformed Americans into civil disobedience and even criminal tax evasion, or at least into supporting some of the frighteningly naive "tea party" rallies where knowing nothing seems to be a favored attribute. (See, e.g., Sarah Palin's ridiculous but oft-repeated claim that Alaska provides 20% of US energy needs, when in fact it is more like about 3%.) It leads people to make stupid decisions, like the good folks in Colorado Springs who refused to fund essential community services and are beginning to watch their community go downhill for lack of a will to pay the taxes that are needed to keep parks open, schools functioning, and police and fire protection available. See What Services Would You Give Up for a Lwer Tax Bill, Don't Mess with Taxes, Feb. 7, 2009. Foks, this is cutting your nose to spite your face. And this is why the Tax Literacy Project (see earlier postings) is so terribly important for our future.