I recently found myself directed to a blog post from late last year by an attorney and noted a tirade by a tax protester. The absymal lack of understanding of the tax system and the role of taxes in a democratic society is disconcerting. I'll quote the comment here.
It makes me incredibly sick to realize how far from freedom we have came. Where it’s “ok” to lock folks away in jails in an inhumane fashion, like criminals, just because they lacked the fund’s to keep up with the thievery of the IRS and it’s inherently wicked attitude against the people. I would like to remind everyone that there infact is no law requiring one to pay income tax on private “wages”. Yes, there is an amendment, and I’m sure a pamphlet full of reasons why you must pay and pay and pay some more. I would like to see the “federal law” and it’s coded I.d. or statute #, that states the why and wherefore, that we are “required” to pay income tax on “private wages”. I thought the IRS clearly stated that income tax is “voluntary compliance”?? Yet they harangue and terrorize innocent people. A business man laying money off shore is none of my concern. I say good luck to him. I agree some taxes need collected, but income tax doesn’t support a single function within the social aspect of the united states. Other taxes fill that gap. I say the IRS and those people inside government, who allow the irs to exist as anything more than a nonprofit fund raiser for charity, are the criminals! If it’s mandatory that I pay income tax, and file, then take my money to begin with and leave me alone. I hope the irs collapses internally and ceases to exist someday. They say, “be a good american. Pay taxes.” Now they say, “you pay or you’ll pay!” I disagree whole heartedly. If the irs says you owe them money, fine, but no one should EVER be imprisoned for owing money to the irs. I believe it is the GREAT AMERICAN, who shuns administrations like the irs, which is no more federal than the federal reserve! Which is not federal at all. It is only my hope to convey a message which describes the brutality of our society in the courts of the u.s.a.. It is they who should be profoundly ashamed of themselves for conjuring such a system into existence! Apportioned taxes are the taxes I can agree to. We are taxed more now than we were as a british colony before the revolutionary war. I applaud any who evade and rebel against such a heinous organization as the irs. Not those who merely work for the irs, but those who keep it feeding fear into the hearts of working American people, I do wish you the most unsuccessful future!
How to begin? Clearly this writer (he used the moniker "Josh" so we'll call him that) has no conception of how the tax laws work.
1. Is there a provision that imposes the income tax on "private wages"? Of course there is a provision in the Code that imposes the income tax on wages and other compensation, whether private or public--it is IRC section 1 (imposing tax at graduated rates on various bracketed amounts of "income" earned by taxpayers, with the brackets set by what type of taxpayer is involved) and IRC section 61 (defining gross income to include income from all sources, including compensation).
2. Does the IRS commit "thievery"? No. It is merely the agency established by law to enforce the tax laws (and a bunch of other more or less related laws). Taxation is not thievery, in spite of the anarcho-libertarian ranting to the contrary. It is an essential function of civil society that requires everyone to pay their dues as the price to maintain the institutions of a civil society. The IRS is no more a thief than the ticket-taker at the neighborhood movie theater is.
3. Does the fact that we term our system one that depends on "voluntary compliance" mean that there is no need for enforcement and civil and criminal penalties for failure to follow the tax laws? Of course not. Our system is called one of voluntary compliance because taxpayers are expected to file a tax return that appropriately calculates the amount of tax they owe and pay the tax with the return. They do this voluntarily, rather than having government agents initiate the process: we do not have government agents going door to door to demand that people pay up on taxes. The vast majority of taxpayers do voluntarily comply. It is the scofflaws and anarchists who don't, as well as those criminals who intend to steal from the rest of society by not paying their appropriate taxes just like everybody else.
4. Are people who fail to comply with the tax laws, including evading the tax laws by putting their money in secret offshore bank accounts, "innocent people" who are being "harangued and terrorized" when the IRS pursues them for penalty payments upon discovery? Of course not. Their failure to comply with the law means that they should pay a penalty, else they are like the drivers who speed up and pull into the middle lane to pass and then get in front of (in ways that can cause serious accidents) a long line of cars patiently taking turns at a crowded freeway exit--they are being selfish in trying to get something (all the functions of government) for nothing (failure to pay the taxes due on their incomes) and letting everybody else bear the increased burden of their selfishness.
5. Do "other taxes" "fill that gap" for taking care of the "social aspects" of the United States? Of course not. Income taxes are the way that we all share in supporting the public infrastructure development that is essential to a decent society and that shared sacrifice fulfills in itself an important expressive function. When tax revenues are lower than expenditures, it fuels radical rightists who want to return our society to the 1800s when those in the upper class ran government for their own benefit and left most everybody else to take care of themselves. The status quo that the radical right wants to "conserve" is one in which those with the "right" connections get government largesse galore (such as leasing rights for pittances on public lands; mineral exploration rights for pittances on public lands and waters; government support for infrastructure necessary to make profits without corresponding payment, etc.).
6. Is the IRS not a federal government agency? Of course it is. The IRS is created and governed by federal statute and its employees are employees of the federal government. It is as federal as they come, directed by a Treasury Secretary who is appointed by the President and a member of the President's Cabinet. The IRS ran an experiment for a few years where it outsourced some of the minor collection activity to private collection agencies, but that was ended when commenters noted that this was a quintessential government function that should not be outsourced and it was found to be much more expensive than the IRS doing the work itself.
7. The whole end of this tirade (applauding tax evaders) shows the abject ignorance of this commenter and the way radical anarcho-libertarian propaganda from outlets like the Cato Institute (founded by the Koch Brothers) breeds ignorance about the very concept of freedom.