Monday, July 23, 2007

The importance of Ed and Elaine Brown and their stand against Income Tax.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-taxevaders20jul20,0,2090706,full.story

The story of Ed and Elaine Brown is something we should be keeping an eye on.

Many people confuse this issue with simply not paying taxes. The issue here is a bit more complex (as is often the case) and actually centers on one tax specifically, not on all taxes.

The issue has to deal with the perception of Income Tax as a direct tax, and its implementation as a direct, unapportioned tax in regards to Sections 1 and 9 of Article 1, and Amendments 9 and 16 of the US Constitution
Article 1, Section 2:
The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.

No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.

When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.

The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.
Article 1, Section 9:
The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.

The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.

No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.

No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another; nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.

No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.
9th Amendment:
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
16th Amendment:
The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.
The first two sections of Article 1 meant that any direct Federal tax or Capitation tax would have to be distributed equally among the States of the Union according to their respective populations.

A Capitation tax is basically a direct tax, per person, of a set amount based simply upon being a citizen.

The 16th Amendment removed the apportionment requirement for direct taxes, thus allowing the Federal Government to collect direct taxes and not have to redistribute them to the states.

The 9th Amendment is referred to by more libertarian protesters in arguing that some rights are simply natural rights that are still protected even if not explicitly defined as protected rights in the Constitution. Their argument is that if the Federal government can collect such a tax and not have to equally redistribute it to the states, the government can use this form of extortion as coercion to force states into compliance with the Federal Government's wishes by restricting redistribution of funds by placing conditions on funding, much as was recently done with the Real ID Act and by many other acts in the past, where states were not obligated to conform, but would have their funding cut and face other restrictions if they did not.

Another argument is that the income tax is a form of extortion stating that you must pay under threat of imprisonment, and thus must hand over part of any income in order to maintain your freedom.

There are many arguments on both sides of this issue, and while a number of them simply do not hold water, so to speak, others bear serious consideration.

Some that don't hold water are the argument that the 16th Amendment was not valid either because the draft legislation distributed to the states had minor differences in punctuation (a comma instead of a semicolon), capitalization and the like, or the argument that Ohio was granted statehood in 1803, yet there was no official government proclamation until 1953, and thus Ohio's vote was invalid.

Other arguments center on the word "voluntary" in the IRS Tax Code, or argue that there is no law that explicitly states that a person must pay an income tax. These claims have been refuted time and again in courts of law on the grounds that it is implicitly declared that there are criminal penalties including fines and imprisonment for failure to file, as well as explicitly stated as such in the US Internal Revenue Code.

Some arguments that bear further consideration include those that argue that certain rights and liberties are protected, even if not originally enumerated in the Constitution or subsequent Bill of Rights. This was actually an area of heated contention during the ratification of the Constitution where the Federalists argued that in enumerating certain rights, there could be the implication that any rights not explicitly listed were not protected. This was part of the motivation for the 9th Amendment after the Anti-Federalists won out in their desire for a "Bill of Rights". Others include those mentioned above, such as the danger of the government being able to extort funds from its people or force states to comply with Federal wishes by restricting funds that previously would have been apportioned to the states, having been derived from direct taxes on those states' citizens, if they do not follow the wishes of the Federal Government and so on.

Pro-Income Tax arguments usually focus on the assertion that our government could not survive without the income tax, or are based on the implication that tax protesters want to do away with all taxes etc. I have personally found these arguments to be based on either misinformation or ignorance. The government lasted for well over a century with very little in the way of income taxes, which were generally only implemented during times of war or other exceptional need until the 16th Amendment was ratified in 1913 under the justification that it was impractical to differentiate various forms of income and thus simply removing the need to differentiate by removing the requirement for apportionment of direct income taxation.

Some of the "solutions" to these perceived problems have been the movements to have the 16th Amendment repealed, and implementation of the FairTax legislation, among others.

It is a complex issue that weighs the desires of the government against the desires of the people under the justification of taxation in order for the government to provide services to the people.

Libertarians chafe under what they perceive as extortion of personal property under threat of imprisonment, essentially a "stay out of jail" fee, and the idea that in the United States today there is no longer any true Freedom. Everything is taxed. The Federal Government reaches its hands further into our pockets and our lives on a daily basis and continually strips away our basic Freedoms and Liberties a little at a time in order to further expand their power and fatten their coffers. Money is taken from the states and used to force states into compliance with Federal wishes by only granting funds and services on the condition that states comply with Federal wishes etc. This, coupled with restrictions on gun ownership rights, suspension of due process, domestic surveillance and other invasions of privacy, expansion of powers for domestic military use and numerous other acts have pressed many libertarians and freedom lovers into increasingly questioning the authority of the government and the limits to which a people can be beholden to that government and still be considered Free.

Don't tread on me!

I'll be keeping my eye on this one.

8 comments:

scourge99 said...

Having a lawyer as a fairly close friend of mine, with over 30 years of experience, I asked him what he thought about not paying income taxes based on the arguments presented. What he said is fairly simple and straightforward: the right to tax income is an AMENDMENT to the constitution.

That means it is law and the only way to not remove it as a law is to have it repealed. Until then taxing income is 100% legal and constitutional.

This doesn't mean you can't try to have the government repeal it with all your might, influence, and reasoning, for this is how our government was designed, to adapt to the people's will. But you will be punished for breaking the law as long it is still in effect.

Largo said...

Which is something Ron Paul clarified. He said that protesting tax law by refusing to pay was a person's right, but that they should understand the consequences of their actions. If they choose not to pay, regardless of their belief in the principle of it being wrong, they should expect the punishment that will clearly result.

He didn't really comment on the Browns because he didn't know the details of the case, hadn't spoken to them etc. So he left it at that.

MikeeUSA said...

The Men of our country are not free and we never will be. The only option for a man who desires freedom is to take up arms against the people who work in government so that he may then die. There is no alternative for a man who wishes to be free.

scourge99 said...

"The Men of our country are not free and we never will be. The only option for a man who desires freedom is to take up arms against the people who work in government so that he may then die. There is no alternative for a man who wishes to be free."

So your idea is only violence gets results? So by that standard only the most powerful people will ever get what they want because they have the best means of "taking up arms against the people in government."

Luckily, most of modern civilization disagrees with you and usually pursues diplomacy over coup de tat's.

Robert M. said...

Frankly, I know that tax is unConstitutional, but why does it matter. In fact, taxation is theft. Since this is true, the Constitutionality, or lack thereof, is irrelevant. I think Ed Brown has a right to do what he's doing on moral grounds. The Constitution is US law, which holds no relevance. The only valid law is higher law, or natural law.

Largo said...

There is a part of me that agrees in part with mikeeusa. I have felt for a few years now that the level to which our government and legal system have devolved, that I don't think I'll see a truly free society here in the US in my lifetime.

I think there is a certain level of "slavery" that man subjects himself in order to be a part of a society. The classic balancing act of Hobbes and Locke's theories.

However, I do think that the government has a position where it is essentially extorting the people. People truly are paying taxes purely out of a fear of being imprisoned if they do not. If that is not extortion, I don't know what is.

So I also agree with what robert m. said in that I think morally Ed and Elaine Brown are making a correct stand for what is the natural right of a man (or woman) to not have to give away their own income under threat of imprisonment and/or loss of their personal property etc, essentially at gunpoint. "Give me your money or else!"

John Imrie said...

I hope its okay for me to snitch your Gadsden and Culpepper flag, I need it for a post over on my blog

Justin Stressman said...

Sure, no problem. I think I got it from wikimedia commons, so it's probably under a creative commons license. I'd have to double check.. but there shouldn't be any problem with you using it. :)