I try to follow the news about conscientious tax resistance pretty closely, and when casting my net I often find myself pulling in news about the constitutionalist tax protest movement next door. They’re the folks who say that the U.S. federal income tax is just a bugaboo — it doesn’t really exist as a matter of law, because the laws that purport to authorize it aren’t really laws, or aren’t constitutional, or are reversed by other laws, or don’t apply where and against whom they are thought to apply, or aren’t enforced by the people authorized to enforce them, or… you get the picture.
One of the more prominent champions of this point of view is Irwin Schiff, author of such books as The Great Income Tax Hoax: Why You Can Immediately Stop Paying This Illegally Enforced Tax, who was just convicted on 13 counts “including conspiracy, tax evasion and tax fraud.” This was the third time he’s gone up against the courts and lost.
If you ever come across someone who is trying to peddle this nonsense, I urge you to strike them with the following magnificent clue-by-four: The Dead Ends of Technicalitarianism by Anthony Gregory, from today’s LewRockwell.com. Excerpts:
Drawing on the technicalities of law as the chief tactic of fighting the state has its severe limitations and drawbacks…. Instead of helping to expose the naked emperor or the man behind the curtain, it can lead us to grant undeserved legitimacy to the state. To obsess over the income tax as a supposed violation of statutory law is to give far too much credence to statutory law. The reason income tax is wrong is that it’s theft, not because some legislator back in failed to dot his i’s and cross his t’s. Moreover, if enough Americans began calling the IRS’s alleged bluff, and stopped filing, the state would simply make the income tax “official” and “properly ratified” in any ways it had presumably failed to do so.
…Liberty is not a mere technicality away. ¶ The state is not about laws on pieces of paper. It is about looting and violence. Its principal methods of funding are theft and counterfeiting, its regular modus operandi is extortion and its most conspicuous projects are assault and murder. Ultimately, finding a technicality that saves Americans from income taxation will prove as effective as finding one that saves foreigners from incoming U.S. missiles. (Can you imagine an Iraqi screaming at the bombing of Baghdad that since the war had not been declared properly, the explosions cannot legally hurt him?)…
Instead of searching for the magic loophole that will swallow up the state and all its oppression, we should devote our time to learning about how the state actually works, its historical and modern relationships with the private and semi-private sectors, and the effects of its domestic and foreign interventions. We should not fool ourselves. The state does not steal our incomes because we have overlooked a confusing regulation or fail to know our case law. The reason we have an income tax is because the politicians in power want an income tax, and have bamboozled the public into believing that taxation is acceptable in the first place. The tax code is confusing and contradictory for all sorts of historical and operational reasons, but it certainly does not contain the final key to our freedom from taxation.
The state is an organization of coercion, a monopoly on aggression, falsely legitimized by its own fiat and sanctified in idolatrous mythology and through lying propaganda. There is no technicality that can curb its inherent conflict with the natural law and individual liberty. It draws actual blood, bankrupts actual companies, bombs actual cities and taxes actual wealth. Its soldiers shoot to kill, its taxmen are equally ruthless. In principle, it is no more bound by a subsection of its tax code than a mobster is bound by his vague promise to protect you. It is for all these reasons that the state must be understood and eventually dismantled wherever and whenever possible. Don’t get too distracted by the fine print and neglect the big picture.