MikeE writes about an interesting story brewing in New Hampshire: Ed and Elaine Brown, who don’t believe in income tax and haven’t paid it since 1996, have been convicted of $625,000 worth of tax evasion. Now Ed is vowing to fight police when they come to arrest him – and he is in a position to do it. The Brown’s fortress-like house on a large property is gradually filling with armed supporters who are willing to fight to the death.

Now I’m all for fighting The Man, and taxes in particular are easy to get up in arms about. While I don’t want to see another Waco, an armed confrontation would certainly demonstrate that taxes are taken at the barrel of a gun. The problem is the stated reasons for refusing to pay tax – they believe that the collection of income tax is unconstitutional. Brown and many of his supporters are even “Constitution Rangers of the Continental Congress of 1777″, sworn to protect that Constitution.

The Constitution, however, is VERY CLEAR on taxes.

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts

- Article 1, Section 8, US Constitution

The Browns and their many supporters are tax protestors who declare that they “will pay income taxes when the government agrees to ‘Show them the law’ which requires the tax to be paid.”

The many, lawyer-style arguments for why income tax is unconstitutional include:

  • The 16th Amendment (further okaying taxes) is not constitutional because:
  • There were spelling and punctuation differences on different copies of the Amendment
  • Unrelated paperwork confirming Ohio as a state was late
  • Relevant IRS forms lack a legally-required bureaucratic code
  • (the forms do have the code, and were specifically exempted from the code-requirement anyway)
  • US citizens are not really ‘citizens’ or ‘persons’ as defined by tax laws
  • And, of course, there is a giant conspiracy to hide the unconstitutionality of income tax from the US public

The Browns have been taken in by charlatans, frauds and conspiracy theorists who seek to sell books and seminars on tax evasion. They are guilty of irresponsible wishful thinking. The real shame of this is that their feelings are correct: no-one should be forced to pay tax at the point of a gun. Tax is Theft. It is only their method which is wrong.

“The Constitution is as clear as clear can be that Congress has the ability to tax income,” Evans said. “The Supreme Court is clear, but the Browns just don’t feel like paying their income taxes.”

New Zealanders were shown recently that the government can simply change the law to make their actions legal. US income taxes are both lawful and constitutional. What they aren’t is moral or just. And that is the correct argument against taxation.

if you must become a martyr, take a stand against the principle of taxation, not against the fact that it isn’t “legal.”
- Josh M

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