Friday, February 6, 2009

The Income Tax Dilemma

Thanks to the reported tax problems of various Obama appointees and nominees, the issue of the income tax system is once again front and center in the public consciousness. The partisan minded attack dogs have predictably added "tax-cheat" to the list of obnoxious traits they mean, rightly or wrongly, to associate with Obama's tenure. The problem is that we can't accuse people of sinning without validating the standard that makes their conduct sinful. In this case, though, the standard involves respect for a system that may itself represent, in its entirety, a violation of Constitutional right. When Rosa Parks sat in the whites-only section of the bus, she broke the laws that supported legal racial segregation. Proponents of segregation eagerly hurled 'scofflaw' epithets at folks who behaved as she did, including of course the civil rights demonstrators who staged sit-ins at segregated lunch counters. Though accurate in one sense, the epithets fall flat in context with the violation of fundamental law involved in racial segregation.

The Federal Income tax system similarly involves violating a plainly articulated provision of the U.S. Constitution. The Fifth Amendment clearly states that "No person…shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself…" Most Americans appear to believe that failure to file their income tax return is a criminal offense. But the return takes the form of sworn testimony as to the amount, source and type of their personal income during the calendar year for which they file the return. If people are compelled by law (that is legally subject to arrest, trial, conviction and punishment) for failing to file the return, it would seem clear that their testimony cannot constitutionally be used against them in a criminal case. But how is it possible, for example, to try someone for the criminal offense of filing a false return without using the false information it contains against them, information they are supposedly compelled by law to provide?

The answer, we are told, is that the tax system is based on voluntary compliance. Filing isn't compelled, it's compulsory. (No, I'm not kidding.) We compulsorily volunteer the information provided in the return, which is therefore usable in criminal cases brought against us. But in what sense is filing a voluntary act? With that question in mind, pause here for a moment to watch the following brief video, featuring Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) Nevada, at (My thanks go to a Digg Friend, Webb Smith for the shout that alerted me to this gem.)

To put it mildly, Reid makes no sense. In fact his response puts doubletalk in the shade, with doublethink hidden in its penumbra (right next to the right to abortion.) While you're chuckling, think hard about the fact that the operation of the system that finances the Federal government, including indispensable things like its defense and intelligence activities, relies on this nonsense for Constitutional legitimacy.

I can't speak to the motives or intentions of the Obama picks tagged with tax troubles. I do know that the Federal Income Tax system poses a serious dilemma for anyone (like me for instance) who cares about the integrity of our Constitutional republic. Every time someone fills out and submits a tax return he acquiesces in the systematic destruction of a vital and explicit Constitutional right. Every time someone is prosecuted using information obtained in the environment of systematic coercion created by the Federal tax system, we all of us acquiesce in the destruction of a vital and explicit Constitutional right. The U.S. courts have taken pains to make sure that violent criminals are made aware of their Constitutional rights, including the right to remain silent. Why haven't they bothered to read those rights to the rest of us? Could it be that they wonder what would happen to their paychecks?

It occurs to me that with one simple, fundamental step we could ease their fears, restore our rights and do far more for the economy than anything found in the Alleged Usurper's phony and dangerous so-called "stimulus" package: Abolish the Federal Income Tax and replace it with a means of taxation consistent with liberty. That would be a real change. While you're thinking about it, why not visit





larry white said...

Thank you, Dr. Keyes. Hilarious interview with Reid, which perfectly illustrates the need for the action you suggest.

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