Tax Protestor Gets Hammered: 16th Amendment IS LAW : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

For those who aren't familiar with judicial decisions: as Daniel Evans says in his Tax Protester's FAQ, when a judge calls your argument "frivolous" or "groundless," he or she is not merely disagreeing with your wording. He/she is saying that you are out of your mind.

Note that this boy got hammered with sanctions for bringing a "frivolous" suit based on the old claim that the 16th Amendment was never ratified. The book "The Law That Never Was" is specifically referenced -- and dismissed -- as well. This is just one decision of dozens.

Emphasis mine in the following.

868 F.2d 236
Marvin D. MILLER, Plaintiff-Appellant,
UNITED STATES of America and Internal Revenue Service,
No. 87-2969.
United States Court of Appeals,
Seventh Circuit.
Submitted Aug. 30, 1988. [FN*]

FN* After preliminary examination of the briefs, the court notified the parties that it had tentatively concluded that oral argument would not be helpful to the court in this case. The notice provided that any party might file a "Statement as to Need of Oral Argument." See Rule 34(a), Fed.R.App.P.; Circuit Rule 34(f). No such statement having been filed, the appeal has been submitted on the briefs and record. Decided Feb. 8, 1989.


Marvin D. Miller, Knox, Ind., for plaintiff-appellant.
J. Philip Klingeberger, Asst. U.S. Atty., Hammond, Ind., Gary R. Allen, Chief, Appellate Sec., Ann Belanger Durney, Raymond W. Hepper and Williams S. Rose, Jr., Asst. Attys. Gen., Tax Div., Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C., for defendants-appellees.

Before POSNER, MANION and KANNE, Circuit Judges.

Marvin Miller is a tax protester whose persistence in pursuing meritless constitutional claims through the use of the judicial review mechanism for penalty assessments under the frivolous tax return provision of 26 U.S.C. s 6702 caused the district court to sanction him $1500 for costs and attorneys' fees under Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The court also enjoined Miller from filing such claims in the future without first obtaining leave of court, 669 F.Supp. 906. Miller has brought this pro se appeal from the district court's denial of his motion to reconsider these sanctions.


This appeal arises from Miller's third attempt to challenge the constitutionality of the entire federal income tax structure. The genesis of the present action is Miller's 1984 tax return, in which he chose not to provide any information regarding his income. Instead, Miller entered either the word "None" or a double asterisk ("**") after each question on the return. Miller also typed a note on the return, explaining that the double asterisks signified his "specific objection to the question under the 5th Amendment U.S. Constitution," and "similar objections under 1, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13 & 14th Amendments." Miller also typed on the return that "[n]ew evidence, Certified and Documented, Shows the 16th Amendment was never legally passed. This means the whole Form, The IRS and income tax Structure is Fraudulent and Illegal, doesn't it? Please Advise!" The Internal Revenue Service responded by assessing Miller with a civil penalty of $500 for filing a "frivolous" return within the meaning of 26 U.S.C. s 6702. [FN1] Miller paid $75 of the penalty and filed unsuccessfully for a refund. He then relied on the judicial review provisions of 26 U.S.C. s 6703 [FN2] to challenge his assessment and the constitutionality of the sixteenth amendment in district court. [FN3]

FN1. The frivolous return provision of 26 U.S.C. s 6702 provides that if: (1) any individual files what purports to be a return of the tax imposed by subtitle A but which-- (A) does not contain information on which the substantial correctness of the self-assessment may be judged, or (B) contains information that on its face indicates that the self-assessment is substantially incorrect; and (2) the conduct referred to in paragraph (1) is due to-- (A) a position which is frivolous, or (B) a desire (which appears on the purported return) to delay or impede the administration of Federal income tax laws, then such individual shall pay a penalty of $500.

FN2. In pertinent part, 26 U.S.C. s 6703 provides: (1) In general--If, within 30 days after the day on which notice and demand of any penalty under section 6700, 6701, or 6702 is made against any person, such person pays an amount which is not less than 15 percent of the amount of such penalty and files a claim for refund of the amount so paid, no levy or proceeding in court for the collection of the remainder of such penalty shall be made, begun, or prosecuted until the final resolution of a proceeding begun as provided in paragraph (2) ... (2) Person must bring suit in district court to determine his liability for penalty.

FN3. On two prior occasions Miller tried to press his constitutional objections to the federal income tax structure through use of the judicial review provisions of 26 U.S.C. s 6703. The first stemmed from Miller's purported tax return for 1982, which contained double asterisks and noted constitutional objections identical to the ones made in this case. The IRS sanctioned Miller $500 under s 6702. He paid $75.00 of the sanction, filed an unsuccessful claim for a refund, and then brought suit under s 6703. The district court granted the government's motion to dismiss in a published order which fully explained the inefficacy of Miller's blanket constitutional objections. Miller v. United States, 577 F.Supp. 980 (N.D.Ind.1984).

Nonetheless, Miller repeated this process in filing his 1983 tax return. In an unpublished opinion, the district court again dismissed Miller's action, reiterating its analysis of the inefficacy of such blanket objections. The district court also sanctioned Miller $500 in attorneys' fees and costs under Fed.R.Civ.P. 11. We affirmed the district court's order in an unpublished opinion. Miller v. IRS, 799 F.2d 753 (7th Cir.1986).

In his complaint, Miller alleges that the sixteenth amendment is unconstitutional because it was illegally ratified. More specifically, he states in Count II that a book by William Benson and "Red" Beckman entitled The Law That Never Was (1985), documents the impropriety of the ratification process. Miller asked the district court to determine the legality of the sixteenth amendment, refund the $75 he paid toward the frivolous filing penalty, and rescind the unpaid balance of the penalty. The government, in turn, moved for summary judgment and requested attorneys' fees and costs for defending against a frivolous suit.

On September 3, 1987, the district court granted the government's motion and dismissed Miller's complaint. The district court also sanctioned Miller $1500 under Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and enjoined him from filing any further actions before it without first obtaining leave of court. The district court specified that leave to file would hinge upon Miller's certification that his claim is not one which he has previously pressed before the court and lost, and that the claim is brought in the good faith belief that it is not frivolous. On October 5, 1987, Miller filed a motion asking the district court to reconsider its sanctions. This the district court declined to do, and on December 1, 1987, Miller filed a notice of appeal. In this appeal, Miller argues that he brought his claim in good faith and that the sanctions are excessive.


The merits of the district court's imposition of sanctions in the present case are not before us since Miller filed his notice of appeal from the district court's September 3, 1987, dismissal order well beyond the sixty-day period prescribed for suits against the United States. Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(1); Pryor v. U.S. Postal Service, 769 F.2d 281, 284 (5th Cir.1985). Adherence to this time limit is both mandatory and jurisdictional. Browder v. Director, Dept. of Corrections of Illinois, 434 U.S. 257, 264, 98 S.Ct. 556, 560, 561, 54 L.Ed.2d 521 (1978). Thus, the failure to file a timely notice from the district court's final judgment leaves us without appellate jurisdiction. Wort v. Vierling, 778 F.2d 1233, 1234 (7th Cir.1985). Miller's motion urging the district court to reconsider its order of sanctions--filed over one month after the court entered the order--must be treated as a motion under Rule 60(b). Browder, 434 U.S. at 263 n. 7, 98 S.Ct. at 560 n. 7. As such, it did not toll the time in which to file the notice of appeal from the district court's judgment. Id.; Marane, Inc. v. McDonald's Corp., 755 F.2d 106, 112 (7th Cir.1985). Our review is therefore limited to the question whether the district court abused its discretion in denying the motion for reconsideration. Marane at 755 F.2d 112; Tunca v. Lutheran General Hospital, 844 F.2d 411, 412 (7th Cir.1988).

Relief from a judgment under Rule 60(b) is limited to the following reasons: mistake, inadvertence, excusable neglect, newly discovered evidence, fraud, and "any other reason justifying relief from the operation of the judgment." Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b). Miller made no reference to any of these grounds in his motion to reconsider.

Rather, his request for relief is based upon the allegations that the district court encouraged him to prosecute his case by granting him a jury trial in response to his request; that he was not using the courts frivolously because he was following a statutorily proscribed procedure; and that the sanctions against him are excessive. Each of these claims is without merit. For example, the first claim is unavailing since the district court's order granting Miller a jury trial according to 28 U.S.C. s 2402 if his case proceeded to that point cannot legitimately be considered "encouragement" to prosecute a frivolous action. Miller's contention that his claims are not frivolous merely because he is following the procedure enumerated in 26 U.S.C. ss 6702 and 6703 is equally meritless. However, his argument on this point has highlighted a trend of rather significant proportions which may benefit from some attention.

When Congress instituted the frivolous return penalty provisions of 26 U.S.C. ss 6702 and 6703, it was seeking to address the vexing problem associated with the approximately 13,600 illegal protest returns the Internal Revenue Service had under investigation as of June 30, 1981. The legislative history of these provisions reveals that Congress sought to implement a mechanism for addressing the "rapid growth in deliberate defiance of the tax laws by tax protestors." S.Rep. No. 97-494, 97th Cong., 2d Sess. 278, reprinted in 1982 U.S.Code Cong. & Ad. News 781, 1024 [hereinafter Senate Report]. To that end, s 6702 was intended to provide the IRS with an immediately assessable penalty for such frivolous protest returns. The Senate Report specifically stated that "the penalty will be immediately assessable against any individual filing a return in which many or all of the line items are not filled in except for references to spurious constitutional objections." Senate Report, 1982 U.S.Code Cong. & Ad.News at 1024. Similarly, it is clear that s 6703 was designed to provide only limited federal judicial review of whether the penalty imposed under s 6702 was proper in light of the aims of Congress. Senate Report, 1982 U.S.Code Cong. & Ad.News at 1025.

The legislative history of these provisions makes it clear that in this case as well as in his two previous actions, Miller has sought to turn the judicial review procedure of s 6703 on its head by making it a vehicle for challenging the constitutionality of the sixteenth amendment. Miller's repeated abuse of s 6703 to press his stale constitutional claims has confounded Congress' larger and unquestionably legitimate aim of maintaining the integrity of the income tax system. Senate Report, 1982 U.S.Code Cong. & Ad.News at 1025.

Our research into the practice employed by Miller and the issues he has attempted to raise reveals a troubling pattern of similar cases./B> Schoffner v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 812 F.2d 292 (6th Cir.1987) (challenge to frivolous penalty assessment for filing return containing asterisks and blanket fifth amendment objection); Eicher v. United States, 774 F.2d 27 (1st Cir.1985) (challenge to frivolous penalty assessment for filing return containing asterisks and blanket fifth amendment objection); Paulson v. United States, 758 F.2d 61 (2d Cir.1985) (challenge to frivolous penalty assessment for filing return containing asterisks and series of constitutional objections); Boomer v. United States, 755 F.2d 696 (8th Cir.1985) (challenge to frivolous penalty assessment for filing return containing asterisks and blanket constitutional objections); Baskin v. United States, 738 F.2d 975 (8th Cir.1984) (challenge to frivolous penalty assessment for filing return containing asterisks and blanket fifth amendment and other constitutional objections); Parker v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 724 F.2d 469 (5th Cir.1984) (challenge to tax deficiency determination and penalty for filing an inappropriate return containing asterisks and blanket fifth amendment objection).

As best we can surmise, Miller, like the plaintiffs in the foregoing cases, has followed the advice of those associated with the "tax protester movement." The leaders of this movement conduct seminars across the country in which they attempt to convince taxpayers that the sixteenth amendment and assorted enforcement provisions of the tax code are unconstitutional. See, e.g. United States v. Hairston, 819 F.2d 971, 972 (10th Cir.1987). Members are encouraged to defy the income tax filing requirements through returns like those noted above. They are then instructed to obtain a jury trial so that potentially like-minded jurors may be persuaded to acquit in the exercise of their power of jury nullification. See, e.g., United States v. Ogle, 613 F.2d 233, 236-37 (10th Cir.1979).

The movement's manifesto, Benson and Beckman's The Law That Never Was, is a collection of documents relating to the ratification of the sixteenth amendment, and is intended to be both a call to arms for the movement and "exhibit A" in the trials of tax protesters who argue that the sixteenth amendment was illegally ratified. Id. at xvii ("The tax protestor will be the great American hero of 1985 just as in 1776. It was tax protestors, not any political party, or judge or prosecutor who gave us our great Constitutional Republican form of government. The tax protest is more American than baseball, hot dogs, apple pie or Chevrolet!!").

In the eyes of the authors, the most damning evidence of the illegality of sixteenth amendment is a 1913 memorandum from the Solicitor of the Department of State to then Secretary of State Knox outlining the minor grammatical discrepancies in the instruments ratified in many of the states. This circuit has squarely addressed the merits of the ratification argument in two recent cases. United States v. Foster, 789 F.2d 457, 462-63 (7th Cir.1986) (73 years of application of the amendment is very persuasive on the question of validity); United States v. Thomas, 788 F.2d 1250, 1253-54 (7th Cir.1986) (amendment treated as properly adopted under the "enrolled bill rule"). In Thomas, we explained that: Benson and Beckman did not discover anything; they rediscovered something that Secretary Knox considered in 1913. Thirty-eight states ratified the sixteenth amendment, and thirty-seven sent formal instruments of the ratification to the Secretary of State.... Only four instruments repeat the language of the sixteenth amendment exactly as Congress approved it.

The others contain errors of diction, capitalization, punctuation, and spelling.... [the defendant] insists that because the states did not approve exactly the same text, the amendment did not go into effect. Secretary Knox considered this argument. The Solicitor of the Department of State drew up a list of the errors in the instruments and--taking into account both the triviality of the deviations and the treatment of earlier amendments that had experienced more substantial problems--advised the Secretary that he was authorized to declare the amendment adopted. The Secretary did so.... [his] decision is now beyond review. Id. at 1253 (emphasis in original). See also United States v. Stahl, 792 F.2d 1438, 1439 (9th Cir.1986), cert. denied 479 U.S. 1036, 107 S.Ct. 888, 93 L.Ed.2d 840 (1987) (propriety of the ratification process is a political question).

We find it hard to understand why the long and unbroken line of cases upholding the constitutionality of the sixteenth amendment generally, Brushaber v. Union Pacific Railroad Company, 240 U.S. 1, 36 S.Ct. 236, 60 L.Ed.2d 493 (1916), and those specifically rejecting the argument advanced in The Law That Never Was, have not persuaded Miller and his compatriots to seek a more effective forum for airing their attack on the federal income tax structure. See Foster, 789 F.2d at 463 n. 6 (the propriety of the ratification of a constitutional amendment may be a non-justiciable political question). Determined and persistent tax protesters like Miller seek to utilize the federal judicial forum without consideration of the significant limitations on the authority of both the district courts and the courts of appeal. One such limitation stems from the bedrock principle of stare decisis: lower courts are bound by the precedential authority of cases rendered by higher courts. U.S. Ex Rel. Shore v. O'Leary, 833 F.2d 663, 667 (7th Cir.1987). This limitation on judicial power is one of the cornerstones of the legal structure in that it serves broader societal interests such as the orderly and predictable application of legal rules. This doctrine prevents us from disregarding the Supreme Court's opinions upholding the constitutionality of the sixteenth amendment. The Court's decisions are binding on us and the district court absent strong evidence that the Court will overrule its own cases. Colby v. J.C. Penney Co., 811 F.2d 1119, 1123 (7th Cir.1987). We perceive no signs that the Supreme Court is harboring any such intentions with regard to the validity of the sixteenth amendment.

Miller would have us disregard this principle and overturn almost three quarters of a century of settled law and declare the sixteenth amendment unconstitutional. He has asked us and the district court to do that which we have no authority to do. He would have us substitute one brand of lawlessness (from his perspective) with a form of lawlessness of our own. Miller and his fellow protesters would be well advised to take their objections to the federal income tax structure to a more appropriate forum.

This advice has been offered on other occasions. Coleman v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 791 F.2d 69, 72 (7th Cir.1986) (tax protesters "must choose other forums, and there are many available"). In the circumstances, the sanctions imposed by the district court were appropriate. With particular reference to the injunction limiting Miller's access to the federal courts, we note that the district court was struggling with a persistent tax protester who was undaunted by his failure in two previous cases in as many years. A monetary sanction of $500 in the latter of those two cases did not prevent Miller from returning to the federal courthouse for yet a third time with the identical claims. The district court was thus faced with a plaintiff as intransigent as the tax protester we sanctioned in Lysiak v. C.I.R., 816 F.2d 311 (7th Cir.1987), and properly drew upon the injunctive relief we imposed in Lysiak to fashion a remedy to address the parallel strains that Miller's frivolous filings were having on its crowded docket and limited resources. Id. at 313. Miller may exercise his right to access the federal courts upon a simple showing that his claim is colorable. See Coleman, 791 F.2d at 72 (there is no constitutional right to bring a frivolous suit). We therefore reject Miller's claim that the sanctions were excessive and hold that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying his motion for reconsideration.

This, however, is not the end of the matter. The present appeal is a patently frivolous one that has generated additional costs for the defendants and this court. Five years ago we warned plaintiffs like Miller that while the doors of the courthouse are open to good faith appeals, "we can no longer tolerate abuse of the judicial review process by irresponsible taxpayers who press stale and frivolous arguments ... In the future we will deal harshly with frivolous tax appeals and will not hesitate to impose sanctions under appropriate circumstances." Granzow v. C.I.R., 739 F.2d 265, 269-70 (7th Cir.1984). This is such a circumstance. Although Miller is acting pro se, he knew or should have known that his position was groundless. Coleman, 791 F.2d at 71 (a court may and should impose sanctions if a person knows his position is groundless). Each of the three district judges before whom Miller has appeared have taken pains to explain the meritlessness of his position. Scott v. Younger, 739 F.2d 1464, 1467 (9th Cir.1984) (reassertion of issues disposed of in prior proceedings is sanctionable).

In conformity with our policy for such tax protester cases, Coleman, 791 F.2d at 73, we hereby sanction Miller $1500 in lieu of attorneys' fees under Rule 38 of the Federal Rule of App. Procedure.

The judgment of district court is affirmed, with double costs and $1500 in damages imposed against the plaintiff-appellant. Miller is ordered to make payment to the Clerk of this court within thirty (30) days by a check made payable to the U.S. Treasury.

So ordered.

-- Stephen M. Poole, CET (, June 04, 2000



-- Stephen M. Poole, CET (, June 04, 2000.

Screw the corrupt judicial system, there is power in numbers. What are they going to do if everyone decides to stop paying all at the same time, put all of us in jail? Not likely. If they don't want to GIVE the power back to the people, I guess we'll just have to TAKE the power back.

-- (American @ patriots. "R" us), June 04, 2000.

What are they going to do if everyone decides to stop paying all at the same time, put all of us in jail?

They won't have to do anything. The system will collapse, anarchy will reign and the Doomers will finally get to use all their preps. :)


-- Stephen M. Poole, CET (, June 04, 2000.

COOOL! Just like nature intended, survival of the fittest!

Mr. Poole, I noticed your html has improved considerably since your last unfortunate experience. Congratulations!


-- Free Enterprise RULES!! (no.more.paychecks@for.politicians), June 04, 2000.

Can you cite the actual law that requires a citizen of the US to file a return?

Not tax code, court cases, or your tax guide, but the ACTUAL LAW. BTW, what does CET stand for?

-- KoFE (your@town.USA), June 04, 2000.

Not tax code, court cases, or your tax guide, but the ACTUAL LAW.

You're falling into the same trap as the tax protestors. The actual law *IS* the Internal Revenue Code, which is just as applicable to you or I as any other law.

First, you have the Sixteenth Amendment, which specifically grants Congress the authority to "lay and collect taxes" on income. Got it?

Congress then empowers the Treasury Department to do just that. The Treasury Department has the authority, delegated to it by Congress, to create the IRS and set up the Tax Code, which is recognized as LAW.

Friend, *THIS* is why judges refer to tax protester arguments as "frivilous," "meritless" and "groundless." They don't understand this basic FACT of how our system works. They think that fancy sophistry based on the precise definition of "income" or "citizen" can get them off the hook. They invariably find (to their astonishment) that this isn't the case.

In my job, I have to obey a host of rules and regulations set by the FCC. Most of these have never been touched by a congresscritter; they were enacted entirely by that bureaucracy. But that doesn't matter; if I don't obey these regulations, I have broken the LAW and can be punished.

Now: you may think this is unfair. I certainly think the system could stand improvement. But that's how the system works and even the most junior attorney understands this (which is one reason why most tax protestors have to represent themselves -- pro se -- in court; it's very difficult to find an attorney who'll take their case, because they KNOW better).

And if think that court decisions don't play a part, you're ignorant of how our system works (another thing that seems to plague tax protestors, who are convinced that they simply haven't found the right words yet, or the right judge yet, and that this is the only reason why they've lost consistently in court; give 'em credit for persistence, if not intelligence).

*THIS* is why the courts call these arguments "frivolous." They're saying that the arguer is out of his/her mind.

Here's another example (I won't quote the whole thing), Irwin Schiff, who offered a "$100,000 reward!" to anyone who could prove that there's nothing in the Internal Revenue Code that requires an average citizen to file a return and pay tax.

The tax protestor won in court, but ONLY because the guy who took the challenge (named "Newman") didn't respond within the time required. But look at what the judge said:

Schiff's claim that there is nothing in the Internal Revenue Code that requires an individual to file a federal income tax return demands comment. The kindest thing that can be said about Schiff's promotion of this idea is that he is grossly mistaken or a mere pretender to knowledge in income taxation.

Although Newman has not "won" his lawsuit in the traditional sense of recovering a reward that he sought, he has accomplished an important goal in the public interest of unmasking the "blatant nonsense" dispensed by Schiff. For that he deserves great commendation from the public.

Now: you will PROVE that you don't understand how our system works -- as set up by the Constitution and Congress -- if you claim that this case doesn't directly answer your question.

Tax protesters are ignorant of how our laws and legal system are formed and how they work. It's just that simple. They have a First Amendment right to disagree, of course, and to vote for candidates who will change the system. But simply saying that the system is wrong (or unconstitutional, or not supported by law, or etc) and can be ignored makes them something lower than a snake, in my book. They're getting a lot of people in trouble.

-- Stephen M. Poole, CET (, June 04, 2000.

There is no description in the 16th amendment of WHO's income, only income. In the case of 1916 Stanton vs. Baltic Mining Co., the SUPREME COURT ruled that the 16th amendment "confers no new powers of taxation". This ruling was never overturned. The law regarding taxable income at that time was for income of non-resident aliens working in the US. The word citizen is not there. Other than allowing for beauracrats to make up the rules as they go, can you cite the actual law, as it is written by Congress? Or the constitution? Or the Supreme Court?

-- KoFE (Yr@town.USA), June 04, 2000.

SMP, I agree.

As I've said before, I wish I paid a $1,000,000 a year in taxes.

Our taxes go to things I like: The DOD, the FBI, the CIA, NSA, the ATF, highways, veterans benefits, National parks, the Smithsonian, etc. Some of it goes to things I don't like: NASA, the National Endowment for Arts, for example. That's life.

I like the United States. I don't mind paying my share.

-- (retired@nd.happy), June 04, 2000.

Agreed, Retired. Some of the things you like, I don't like, and vice versa. But that's our freedom here in the U.S., to disagree.

Taxes, to my mind, are the rent we pay to live in the best country on the face of the earth.

To try and dodge paying taxes is tantamount to wanting to live in an apartment without paying the rent; or owning and living in a house without paying the mortgage.

In other words, tax protestors are freeloaders. Leeches. Mooches. Someone has to pay for the infrastructure we all enjoy. Those who don't want to do their part should live elsewhere.

-- Chicken Little (, June 04, 2000.


Your question puzzles me. Congress passes laws that express an intent that certain things should happen or be prevented from happening. Invariably and necessarily, this leaves the question of HOW this intent should be implemented. And it's not uncommon for people to question whether the implementation (expressed as rules and regulations) *as practiced* matches the original Congressional intent.

In real life, the body of administrative, regulatory rules, procedures, definitions, etc. dwarfs the actual body of Congressionally passed laws. And this regulatory system continues to grow by accretion, as cases are encountered that are in some sense ambiguous and need to be pinned down with yet more rules, all very specific. It's far from the scope of Congress' duties to pass specific rules, for example, telling the National Park Service where to put up "Don't feed the bears" signs, or whether they can do so, or how such signs should be worded. Such details naturally fall within the intended authority of the Park Service, yet are still legally binding.

But as SMP says, this is how the system works. Without regulation, the original laws would lack force or meaning. But this system is NOT one of random bureaucrats making up rules out of thin air to suit their fancy -- the rules must not contradict the original intent or you indeed have a case.

The tax system is no different in principle from the "don't feed the bears" signs, or the determination of where to paint passing zones on 2-lane roads, ad nauseum. The tax protest movement arises from the near-universal desire to get government services for free. Nobody wants to pay taxes, but everyone wants (most of) what they GET from those taxes.

-- Flint (, June 04, 2000.

Another question I have is, since the judge who called Shiff frivolous;( meaning out of his mind), but did not cite the law to the contrary, was his opinion law? Or was his opinion just his opinion?

Was Newmans' case ever proven outside of the time allowed? I would agree that the public has acted out of ignorance regarding the income tax. They have been deceived by an agency that makes up rules contrary to the Constitution's stated mission, and actual law. Under the title of :

Other Catagories and Concerns Voiced by the States, The Bill of Rights, we find this from the delegation from Norh Carolina:

"That every freeman restrained of his liberty is entitled to a remedy to inquire into the lawfulness thereof, and to remove the same, if unlawful, and that such remedy ought not to be denied nor delayed...That in controversies respecting property, and in suits between man and man, the ancient trail by jury is one of the greatest securities to the rights of the people, and ought to remain sacred and invoidable... That every freeman ought to find a certain remedy by recourse to the laws for all injurys and wrongs he may receive in his person, property, or character. He ought to obtain right and justice freely without sale, completely and without denial, promptly and without delay, and that all establishments, or regulations contravenning these rights, are oppressive and unjust.

I think that we could all agree that the meaning here is clear that a we have a right to question the law, especially one that is never cited directly, but only alluded to. To say that a citizens question as frivolous, is arrogant. But it's not the law. But I really would like to see the document from Congress, that gives the IRS the power to take private property, and incarcerate citizens.

-- KoFE (Your@town.USA), June 04, 2000.

Poole writes:

"They think that fancy sophistry based on the precise definition of 'income' or 'citizens' can get them off the hook.

Do you mean that words don't mean what they say?

If I follow some of the reasoning here, taxes can't be raised by other revenues, as they were in the past, And we need more money now than in the past, and if we follow this line of reasoning we will need even more in the future.

Flint, I just want to see the specific constitutional law that makes it clear who is liable. I think raising taxes are necessary. I am not protesting against taxation. Is it too much to ask to see the law? Someone who post as an authority on "frivolous tax protesters" should be able to present facts that back up his claim that citizens must file.

-- KoFE (your@town.USA), June 04, 2000.

There is no description in the 16th amendment of WHO's income, only income.

Utterly irrelevant. Congress passes laws and/or delegates authority to government agencies, which then create and refine these definitions. If Congress disagrees with them, they can override the agency in question. Or, someone can bring a lawsuit challenging the definitions and decisions of that agency.

In this case, both have happened. Congress exercises regular oversight of the IRS (the recent taxpayer's rights bills were a direct result of that oversight), and court cases have certainly been tried. The courts have UNIFORMLY decided that you have to file a return and pay tax, and further, if you DON'T, you are subject to fines, penalties, and possible imprisonment. Period, end of sentence.

Admit it. You've been reading tax protester materials, because you sound like a Xerox of most of the TP websites that I've visited. And here's proof ...

Stanton vs. Baltic Mining Co

And if you're thinking about bringing up US vs. Long, or Bill Conklin's claim that he's "never lost," or the various challenges issued by TPs ("I'll give $10,000 to anyone who can prove that I have to pay tax!"), I'll consider you a lost cause. I remain hopeful, so please; don't do it. :)

Did you even bother to READ the material at the links that I provided here and elsewhere? Stanton v Baltic simply settled a very specific question before the court. That decision did NOT mean that the government has no authority to tax income!

Subsequent court decisions -- ALSO passing Supreme Court muster -- have made this so painfully clear that, once again, we're back to the "you're out of your mind" category if you try to use an argument like this to defend yourself.

And besides, here's the bottom line: suppose you're right. (You're not, but let's bend reality to the breaking point and say you are.) Let's say you find a court to agree with you; some "brave, patriotic" (in your view) judge declares the entire tax scheme unconstitutional, unlawful, immoral and otherwise unattractive. The IRS is dead, long give it's corpse, and all that.

You know what would happen? Congress would IMMEDIATELY introduce ANOTHER constitutional amendment -- and this time, there would BE no ambiguity -- reestablishing the right of the government to collect money from you.

The givvernment HAS to have money, and they're GOING to get it, even if that means writing a couple of new amendments.

The very fact that they HAVEN'T done this *proves* that the TP arguments about the unconstitutionality and illegality of the income tax are meritless. If these arguments DID have merit, Congress would fix them before sundown TOMORROW. [g]

Look: you do what you want. God bless you. But I would urge anyone else reading this, for their own sakes, NOT to take seriously ANY argument from a tax rebel until they've checked it out thoroughly with competent legal counsel.

-- Stephen M. Poole, CET (, June 04, 2000.


The 16th amendment seems quite clear. The intent of the Amendment is to permit taxes on income to be collected. All the rest is the administrative details of bringing intent into practice. Border-type cases like just who is a citizen, just what is a revenue, what constitutes income, what are the practical distinctions between fines, taxes, fees and the like are handled administratively. I admit I fail to see the thrust of your question.

-- Flint (, June 04, 2000.

The 16th amendment may be clear, but it was never properly passed into legislation by a majority of the states. The lobbyists of private banks took control while most representatives were absent from Congress (Christmas Eve), and declared that it had been passed.

-- (observer@of.history), June 04, 2000.


So what? Even if you're right, it was declared passed, accepted as passed, administrated as passed, adjudicated as passed, and would be passed again tomorrow if the need arose, so what difference does it make? Anyway, we have a long history of legislative chicanery, because nearly all legislators are lawyers. They write loopholes and use them as normal practice. Remember that the two things nobody without a strong stomach should ever watch being made are sausage and law.

-- Flint (, June 04, 2000.

The US Supreme Court ruled that the "income" tax is constitutional as an indirect (excise) tax, but not as a direct tax ( a tax on the general public) In the 1916 descisions of Brushaber v.Union Pacific R.R. 240 US 1, and Stanton v. Baltic Mining =, 240 US 103, the US Supreme Court ruled that the 16th Amendment create "no new power of taxation" and that it did not amend or nulify the constitutional prohibition against direct taxation of the people within the states of the union.

The court ruled that the "income tax is constitutional as an indirect EXCISE tax on the receipts of foreigners, but not as a direct tax on the American people. In the decision of Flint vs. Stone Tracy Co. 220 US 107, the US Supreme Court defined an "exise" tax as a tax on activities involving the excersise of a privilige.

Should we follow the Supreme Court descision, or the beauracrats?(sp?) If we follow the beauracrats, then the same line of reasoning would allow Alabama to keep forced segregation. After all there WERE laws on the books that allowed the police to arrest Rosa Parks and even get a conviction.

If it was overturned, you should be able to provide evidence.

-- KoFE (Your@town.USA), June 04, 2000.

There are 2 Clauses in the Constitution that forbids the Income Tax.

No direct tax shall be laid.

You cannot have two opposing clauses in the Constitution. The latest one has to be invalid, unless the two Clauses have been repealed.


These 2 Clauses render the 16th Amendment invalid! You cannot have two "against" and one "for" the Income Tax. The two against the income tax renders the 16th Ammendment null and void!

Poole is just spouting off the mouth with his anti tax protestor crap. Either there is a law or there is not. What is it Poole? Show me the law or shut up!!!!

-- ... (, June 04, 2000.

Our Founding Fathers were dead set against any income tax.

That is why they put in 2 Clauses opposing the Income Tax in the Constitution.

It is the only thing mentioned TWICE in the Constitution!

-- snuggy (, June 04, 2000.

Strange. I always learned that amend means change or modify. Override, even. Our Constitution can be amended to effectively repeal what was there before the amendment. This was intentional.

The notion that when we change our National mind, we have to keep saying so enough times to create a "majority rule of redundant declarations" is at least something I've never heard claimed before. What it lacks in sanity, at least it makes up in imaginativeness.

-- Flint (, June 04, 2000.

Pensylvania, Kentucky and Wyoming all voted against the 16th Amendment.

But the record show that they voted for the 16th Amendment.

Proof that the 16th Amendment is invalid!

Invalid means NULL AND VOID!

-- ... (, June 04, 2000.

The 16th Amendment is a fraud.

There is no Statute of limitations against fraud!

-- ... (, June 04, 2000.

Notice to Frank:

You were asking what we might need to be concerned about next, now that the y2k nutcases have been discredited? You were asking how those who were ludicrously wrong about y2k and *could not learn* might benefit in the future if only the could learn?

I think we have a smoking gun here.

-- Flint (, June 04, 2000.

What does "CET" stand for? gives the following expansions:

Central European Time (GMT+0100)
Centro de Estudes de Telecomunicoes (Portugal)
Certified Engineering Technologist (Canada)
Certified Environmental Trainer
CINC Evaluation Test
Combat Engineer Tractor
Combined Environmental Testing Facility
Commercial Experiment Transporter
Comprehensive Electronics Test
Computer Ethics Taskforce (Australian Computer Society)
Concurrent Engineering Team
Construction Electrician (Telecommunications)
Containment Event Tree
Core Exit Thermocouple
Corrected Effective Temperature
Crew Escape Technology
Cumulative Elapsed Time

Oh, and CINC is given as "Combined Intelligence Center" or "Commander-In-Chief."

-- David L (, June 04, 2000.

The truth can be known in this case, Flint. but if you would rather spend time being cute, than address the issue, that's okay too.

The law as it is written is correct. But it has been misapplied when the issue is liability. It's that simple, but you have to examine the law and code to understand.

I haven't seen a post from you where you try to dispute the facts, so I think you probably don't know if they're right or wrong.

-- KoFE (your@town.USA), June 04, 2000.

Certified Exercise Therapist

-- (Heworked@my.hamstrings), June 04, 2000.


I regard the tax protesters as quixotic and of questionable sanity. By sheer usage and application if nothing else, current practice cannot be refuted. However, I DO know that those with a fanatical conviction against *anything* will find it wrong, blythely unconcerned with whether their position lacks all merit. As I wrote about the OJ jury, if he'd confessed they'd say it was forced. If the murder had been videotaped, they'd claim the tapes were doctored. If there had been 500 witnesses, they'd claim mass hallucination! When one's mind is made up, facts become irrelevant.

-- Flint (, June 04, 2000.

Looks like your mind is made up,and facts are irrelevant.....

-- KoFE (your@town.USA), June 04, 2000.


Yeah, except for the annoying little matter of nearly 90 years of practice and precedent, you're right.

-- Flint (, June 04, 2000.

Lol! Flint says "so what" to illegal ammendments to the constitution! Geee, why don't we just allow Congress to turn this country into a communist state, that would be fun! So what!!

-- (observer@of.history), June 04, 2000.


You mean the tapes WEREN'T doctored? :)


The 16th Amendment was properly ratified. The way our government works, the various state legislatures vote for ratification. The OPTIONAL (it's actually not even required) copy of the amendment that they MAY send back to the Secretary of State is for memorandum only. All that's really required is some form of notice saying, "we've ratified the proposed amendment, put a tick by our name in the 'yea' column."

But don't take my word for it.

Dig through the TP's books; browse their Websites. Find me one court decision that has said that the 16th Amendment wasn't ratified properly.

Surely they've been able to find one.

Just one. That's all I need and that'll settle the argument.

-- Stephen M. Poole, CET (, June 05, 2000.

I didn't say that the 16th amendment was never ratified. Re-read my post. I'm saying that the original intent has been twisted by lying and uninformed officials, who when confronted with the actual law and code, can only resort to bluff, and intimidation,coupled with the knowledge that most people don't have the time and resources to defend themselves. A large percentage of IRS agents themselves don't know what the code says, they just do what they've been told.

It started out being applied properly, but the public has been lied to and mis-informed. If we can agree to that possibility and have the motive to explore how it happened, we could get to the bottom of it.

-- KoFE (your@town.USA), June 05, 2000.

BTW, according to IRS manual Section 5431.4 a tax protester is someone who files a return and writes a protest on the return. So you got that right about Miller.

But you can't be a protester if the law doesn't apply to you.

-- KoFE (your@town.USA), June 05, 2000.

Suppose the Income Tax was done away with - and the IRS, how do you think we should raise money to pay for government? National sales tax? or what?

-- (retired@nd.happy), June 05, 2000.

I'm saying that the original intent has been twisted by lying and uninformed officials, who when confronted with the actual law and code, can only resort to bluff, and intimidation, coupled with the knowledge that most people don't have the time and resources to defend themselves.

But once that intent has been recognized by court precedent, that's the law. That's how our system works. I don't agree with Roe v. Wade; I think it was one of the sorriest decisions ever made by the Supreme Court. But it's the law of the land, and it would take a constitutional amendment to eliminate that precedent.

(And on that point, I'll interject: the court decisions that you quoted above are not only very old -- an earlier court precedent CAN be modified by a later one - they do NOT say what tax protestors think they do. That's for another discussion, but this is another example of what I said elsewhere: these people don't understand what they're reading.)

During the Y2K debate, I fussed at the far-Right Doomers for their tendency to "withdraw" (or pick a word, if that doesn't suit) from society; to write it off and let it destroy itself/go its own way (again, pick a term if you don't like that one; there was a wide range of precise motivations and opinions, but this general tendency was clear).

That's NOT how our system works. If you want better court decisions, work for and vote for representatives who will select them more carefully. Believe me, elected officials DO care about what the electorate thinks. :)

The real problem in the past couple of elections is that conservatives have stayed home in a snit over one issue or another, and the only thing they've gained for it is a good bullet in their own feet.

This really is the only way to change the system. Me? I'd prefer a flat tax. A national sales tax would put too much of a burden on business; they've already got enough paperwork to do. Besides, the liberals would never permit it; by the time we finished working out the rebates and exemptions for the poor, it would be darned near as complex (for the business, anyway) as the current system.

The recent laws restricting the IRS and giving taxpayers more rights (which should never have been missing to start with, I'll grant you that!) are very positive signs. See? We can make a difference.

Just don't say that the current laws don't support the collection of income tax, the filing of returns, etc., etc. They DO because the courts have SAID that they do. Under our system, that's the final word -- unless and until those decisions are amended by new laws and/or constitutional amendments.

We could even get into the argument that the courts shouldn't have such power. I might even agree with you, up to a point. But to argue that they DON'T have this power is nothing but blatant denial and serves no useful purpose. Until they're reigned in, they DO have this power.

And back to the subject at hand: refusing to file a tax return as some form of quixotic protest against same is worse than silly. It doesn't change anything and the protestor simply gets punished. The American people certainly don't say, "hey, there goes a hero!"

Our schools really ought to teach a class on our how our system of government -- especially the judiciary -- really works. Then people would know how to make more informed decisions in the voting booth.

-- Stephen M. Poole, CET (, June 05, 2000.

Hey, guys -- as I said in an earlier thread. There's two groups that hang out here that it is not worth arguing with -- Chemtrails and Tax Nuts. To believe what they want to believe means that they are so far out to lunch that argument is impossible. I quick "debunk" for the purpose of giving some information to the foolish and gulible who might follow their lead is a public service. Arguing with Tax Nuts is an exercise in frustration only.

-- E.H. Porter (Just, June 05, 2000.


If the IRS were made "legal" through new amendments and laws, to your satisfaction, would you then feel okay about paying Federal taxes?

It's not clear whether you are against what you believe to be an illegal collection process, or whether you are against paying taxes per se.

-- (retired@nd.happy), June 05, 2000.



1.Unworthy of serious attention; trivial: a frivolous novel. 2.Inappropriately silly: a frivolous purchase.

Just so no one thinks it really means "you're out of your mind."

-- Buddy (, June 05, 2000.


Only to a judge. :)

-- Stephen M. Poole, CET (, June 05, 2000.

Darn, I cleaned up my favs a week or so ago, and dumped most of my tax links. Maybe I'll have to "go to the DATA tape"...

I visited a tax forum or 2 (grin) last year, and this was the hot topic on all of them. Is the tax legal? Is it voluntary? What if you don't pay? Bla bla bla...

None of it matters. What does matter is what the courts say. And in almost every case, the court lands on the side of the .gov.

As for me, I would like to see the income tax replaced by a national sales tax of some sort. I've got a bunch of reasons why, and I'ld be happy to get into it later, if anyone cares.

Stephen, I've gotta run, and I thought you would get a kick out of why. A friend just called, begging to borrow one of my spare computers. Her computer was damaged in a house fire!

Turns out that the only things damaged in the house are the computer, and the MS Office box, that was blocking the fan!!!


-- Sysman (, June 05, 2000.

Well guys, I post law and you post opinion.

And no, I am not against the IRS, or raising revenue. They are totally constitutional. But they are misapplying the law. Hello?

Treasury Descision 2313,issued Mar. 21,1916 by the commissioner of Internal Revenue to inform collectors of internal revenue of the signifigance of the Brushaber descision states:

Under the descision of the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Brushaber v. Union Pacific Railway Co., decided January 21, 1916, it is hereby held that income accruing to nonresident aliens in the form of interest from the bonds and dividends on the stock of domestic corporations is subject to the income taz imposed by the act of October 3, 1913.

TD 2313 also states:

The responsible heads, agents, or representatives of nonresident aliens, who are in charge of the property owned or business carried on within the United States, shall make (file) a full and complete return of the of income therefrom on Form 1040, revised, and shll pay any and all tax , normal and additional, assessed uponthe income received by them in behalf of their nonresident alien principles. This document shows that the "withholding agent" receiving "income" on behalf of a nonresident alien, must pay the tax and file a 1040 for his nonresident alien principle.

Are you guys non resident aliens, or withholding agents for non resident aliens, or citizens?

The U.S. Supreme Court in Murdoch V. Pennsylvania, 319 U.S. 105 stated:

A state may not impose a tax for the enjoyment of a right granted by the Federal Constitution

That should be easy for a lawyer to look up, Porter.

And Poole, do you see any contradiction in being selective about which Supreme Court descisions you are willing to support? I am totally against abortion; and fortunately that's still "voluntary".

-- KoFE (Your@town.USA), June 05, 2000.


Turns out that the only things damaged in the house are the computer, and the MS Office box, that was blocking the fan!!!

See? Microsoft is dangerous and MUST be broken up. There's the proof! :)

KoFE, first things first.

Well guys, I post law and you post opinion.

Oh, give me an ever-luvin' break. I posted links to three different Web sites *filled* with court decisions and matters of case law related to the whole issue of taxation.

They are totally constitutional. But they are misapplying the law. Hello?

(Try a "knock-knock" joke; it would work better than "hello.")

According to the courts, they are NOT misapplying the law.

Treasury Descision 2313,issued Mar. 21,1916 ... [snip, see above]

Point one: that's a very old decision that has since been refined and superceded by other decisions.

it is hereby held that income accruing to nonresident aliens in the form of interest from the bonds and dividends on the stock of domestic corporations is subject to the income taz imposed by the act of October 3, 1913.

Uh, OK. But that's INCLUSIVE, not EXCLUSIVE. In other words, the IRS holds that aliens have to pay tax, TOO.

This is what I meant when I said that tax protestors do NOT understand what they're reading. They're playing shade-tree lawyer, trying to nitpick things that have been clarified by subsequent court decisions, acts of Congress, changes to the tax code, etc., etc., etc.

Don't you find it the least bit telling that tax protestors have to go back to the 1910's and 20's to find "support" (I'm being generous) for their position?

The U.S. Supreme Court in Murdoch V. Pennsylvania, 319 U.S. 105 stated: a state may not impose a tax for the enjoyment of a right granted by the Federal Constitution.

You've lost me now. In what way is the IRS (or the various state Depts of Revenue) acting in a manner contrary to this?

(I'll probably regret asking, but what the heck.[g])

And Poole, do you see any contradiction in being selective about which Supreme Court descisions you are willing to support?


It's not a matter of "supporting" some decisions and refusing to support others. I may disagree with them, but under our system of government, as a citizen, I'm bound to obey (unless you get into some moral arena where I feel that martyrdom is preferable, which is hardly the case with a 1040 form).

Here's how it works. Remember the horrible Dred Scott decision back before the Civil War, that infamous Supreme Court ruling that permitted slavery to continue? The court ruled that negroes were "four fifths of a man" (or was it "three fourths?"), and thus not entitled to the protections of the Constitution, yadda yadda.

The war was fought. The South lost. The 14th Admendment settled the issue once and for all. Dred Scott is now a dead issue. That's one way for this to work.

Here's another: there were some key decisions made in the late 1890's by the Supreme Court declaring the US to be a "Christian Nation" (their precise choice of term). Some of my fundamentalist friends make a big hey-do over this; the problem is, those decisions have since been modified and overridden by OTHER Supreme Court decisions.

The United States can no longer be considered a strictly "Christian" nation. It's just that simple. As a Christian, I can disagree with that; but that's the system works.

(Speaking theoretically -- I would actually oppose this; I don't want to impose my religion on anyone -- if I wanted to make the US a "Christian" nation in fact, I would work to elect representatives who would introduce a constitutional amendment to that effect.)

I don't mean to be long-winded (Potter is convinced that I'm wasting my time; he may very well be right). But do you know what the real disconnect is here?

Tax protestors can't believe that they could be "that wrong." I have given you several links that you can follow to see WHY they are "that wrong." They're not a respected minority opinion; they're not even in the ballpark. They're not even on the map.

You keep trying to use the same basic argument, restated and repolished and given a fresh coat of paint each time, but it all boils down to this: you're saying that YOUR definitions and interpretations of the law take precendence over those of the courts, which is silly.

The cases that you (and tax protestors in general) cite to support your position DO NOT, in fact, support it. Subsequent court cases have made that abundantly clear.

-- Stephen M. Poole, CET (, June 06, 2000.

"Subsequent court cases have made that abundantly clear."

There should never be ANY court cases involved, with the gov collecting a fair tax. The arguments start at the same place "fair" starts.


-- Sysman (, June 06, 2000.

There should never be ANY court cases involved, with the gov collecting a fair tax. The arguments start at the same place "fair" starts.

I agree in principle, but practically speaking, there will always be those who try to beat the system. Therefore, the courts will be involved. :)

I also never said that the system couldn't stand improvement. I support a flat tax, myself. I think a national sales tax would place too much of a burden on business. (I'd still prefer that to the current mess, though.)

-- Stephen M. Poole, CET (, June 06, 2000.

Poole, you keep making my point for me, and then tell me it's not valid. Unless the Supreme Court descisions are overturned, they are law of the land.

If the lower court incorrectly interprets that law, than it is unconstitutional. Enforcement of the lower court ruling by people who do what they're told, w/o knowing whether it is truly legal or not, is how we got to this "everybody knows" mentality. If you know that these Supreme Court descisions have been overturned, will you just say it?

Going back 90 years to disprove my point and then going back 140 years to provide an example of yours is a contradiction, I think. And, you are stating that this TD 2313 is inclusive of citizens and not exclusive; please show me the law.

Two provisions in the U.S. Constitution prohibit the imposition of direct taxes on the people or their property by the U.S. government. The first is :

"Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3, which requires the amount of any direct tax to be divided among the state governments in proportion to the population of each state."

The second provision is in Article 1, Section 9, Clause 4, which prohibits any capitation ( a tax on people ) or other direct tax unless apportioned among the states. Direct taxes have been imposed only five times in U.S. history. All were imposed on state governments (non individuals) he last direct tax was imposed in 1861.

We have been led to believe that we as citizens are liable to submit to filing a return when the law actually contradicts that. Having a "custom" that is in direct violation of the Constitution does not validate that custom;( although, you can choose to believe it if you want. We have as example civil rights cases.

The mind set that says it's law because we've been doing it for a long time is the same used to support "Jim Crow" laws. The people who struggled to assert their constitutional rights relating to Jim Crow were labeled, abused, and some murdered, but they weren't mistaken. And the law was there to back them up.

My point being, that the law IS there to show that what I'm saying is correct.

If the Articles of the Constitution, Supreme Court descisions, amendments,tax code, and tax guide, ALL support the same agreement, then there's no violation. But if you don't know what they say, then you are only submitting to having your rights violated out of fear, bluff, and intimidation.

-- KoFE (your@town.USA), June 06, 2000.


Thanks for your reply.

-- (retired@nd.happy), June 06, 2000.

Stephen Poole:

Yor problem here is, you just don't understand how our system works [g]. The government needs to collect revenues, but politicians also want to get elected, and nearly everyone wants to improve our collective quality of life.

An evolving taxation system (as embodied in both the regulations and the court decisions) is far more than a mechanical process -- it embodies and reflects these other forces as well. The complexity of the current system was by no means inadvertent or accidental.

Sysman says nobody would contest a "fair" system, and you reply that some people will always try to beat any system. This is misleading at best. The problem is, there is nothing close to a consensus as to what constitutes "fair". Does this mean everyone pays the same *amount* in taxes? Does it mean everyone pays the same *percent* of their income in taxes? Does it mean that everyone suffers the same tax *burden* in some indefinable way? Does it mean that everyone ends up with the same after-tax sum? What the hell does "fair" mean anyway? For most of us, in practice "fair" means "I pay less than I do now".

Even setting the issue of fairness aside, taxes will always be regarded as a vehicle for rewards and punishments -- an instrument of policy. Even should we adopt a stone simple national flat tax or sales tax, it would very quickly be subjected to the interminable modification process for policy reasons if nothing else.

Should we levy particularly heavy taxes on "sinful" items? Most people would like to see sinners punished. Should we give special breaks to poor people? They need them. Should we exempt from taxation essential items like food? Everyone must eat, and taxing them for doing so seems harsh.

Beyond this, does it make sense to use differential tax rates to encourage industry and innovation? For example, if we need more oil, is it helpful to the national wellbeing to use tax policy to effectively subsidize losses incurred during oil exploration? Should we use taxes to make it easier for citizens to achieve the American Dream by purchasing single family dwellings? This list is by definition endless.

Finally, do you seriously propose that the politicians who control such decisions won't find some way to trade tax breaks for campaign contributions or for preferential benefits to their districts?

The tax protesters are simpletons who try to beat the system by bringing frivolous lawsuits based on specious premises. In contrast, the kingmakers control the nomination process of those who appoint the judges and regulators. Money will always talk.

-- Flint (, June 06, 2000.


Hard to argue with that. We live in an imperfect world. :)

What really gets me is WHY is it, "TAX protestors?" Where are the protestors who utterly refuse to buy license plates, or the protestors who utterly refuse to eat government-subsidized lettuce? :)-again

-- Stephen M. Poole, CET (, June 07, 2000.

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