Tax protester constitutional arguments


Tax protester constitutional arguments

UStaxation

Tax protester constitutional arguments are assertions that the imposition of the federal income tax violates the United States Constitution. These kinds of tax protester arguments are distinguished from related statutory arguments and conspiracy arguments, which presuppose the constitutionality of the income tax. Although the most frequent Constitutional arguments are directed towards the validity and effect of the Sixteenth Amendment, arguments exist that the income tax violates some other provision of the Constitution; or that some other provision, that would prevent the assessment of the income tax, was ratified but wrongfully excluded from the Constitution.

Other constitutional amendment arguments have been raised by tax protesters. Some argue that imposition of the income tax violates the First Amendment freedom of speech and freedom of religion. [Christopher S. Jackson, "The Inane Gospel of Tax Protest: Resist Rendering Unto Caesar - Whatever His Demands", 32 Gonzaga Law Review 291, at 308 (1996-97) (hereinafter "Jackson, "Gospel of Tax Protest").] Protesters argue that the income tax violates the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, the Takings Clause, or the right that no person shall be "deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law". Tax protesters have argued that income taxes imposes involuntary servitude in violation of the Thirteenth Amendment. [Jackson, "Gospel of Tax Protest", at 310.] Some tax protesters argue that Americans are citizens of the individual states as opposed to citizens of the United States, as the Fourteenth Amendment was not properly ratified. Another argument is a missing amendment to the Constitution, known as the Titles of Nobility Amendment, which precedes the current Thirteenth Amendment. Another argument raised is that because the federal income tax is progressive, the discriminations and inequalities created by the tax should render the tax unconstitutional. These additional constitutional amendment arguments have been rejected by the courts and have been officially identified as legally frivolous.

The authority of the federal government has been challenged by protesters, arguing that they should be immune from federal income taxation because they are sovereign individuals or natural individuals, have not requested a privilege or benefit from the government, or are outside the "federal zone" (D.C. and various federal enclaves such as military bases). Neither the U.S. Supreme Court nor any other federal court has ruled that an income tax imposed under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is unconstitutional. [The 0.125% harbor maintenance tax on the value of commercial cargo involved in a taxed port use under usc|26|4461 was unanimously ruled unconstitutional under Art. 1, sec. 9, cl. 5, in the case of "United States v. United States Shoe Corp.", 523 U.S. 360, 118 S. Ct. 1290, 98-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 70,091 (1998). No tax protester arguments were raised in this case. The government had argued that the tax was only a "user fee." The Court ruled that it was an unconstitutional tax on exports. The harbor maintenance tax was not an income tax. Similarly, the coal excise tax under usc|26|4221 was ruled to be an unconstitutional tax on exports by a federal district court in 1998 in the case of "Ranger Fuel Corp. v. United States", 33 F. Supp. 2d 466, 99-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 70,109 (E.D. Va. 1998). In "United States v. Hatter", 532 U.S. 557, 121 S. Ct. 1782 (2001), the Supreme Court held that because certain special retroactivity-related Social Security rules enacted in 1983 effectively singled out then-sitting federal judges for unfavorable treatment, the Compensation Clause of the Constitution (in Article III, section 1, relating to reduction of the compensation of federal judges) prohibited the application of the Social Security tax to those judges. The Social Security tax is not an income tax. See also "United States v. International Business Machines Corp.", 517 U.S. 843, 116 S. Ct. 1793, 96-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 70,059 (1996) (Supreme Court ruled that an excise tax on casualty insurance premiums paid to foreign insurers to cover shipments of goods violated prohibition on tax on exports).] Under the Supreme Court ruling in "Cheek v. United States", [498 U.S. 192 (1991).] a defendant in a tax evasion prosecution who has made arguments that the federal income tax laws are unconstitutional may have the arguments turned against him (or her). Such arguments, even if based on honestly held beliefs, may constitute evidence that helps the prosecutor prove "willfulness", one of the elements of tax evasion.

First Amendment

Some protesters argue that imposition of income taxes violates the First Amendment freedom of speech because it requires the subject of the tax to write information on a tax return; or violates freedom of religion if the subject of the tax claims some religious objection to the payment of taxes, particularly if the subject styles himself or herself as a Reverend, Minister, or other religious office-holder. While the Internal Revenue Code makes an exemption for churches and other religious "institutions", it makes only special tax codes and deductions, not exceptions, for religious professionals. The United States Supreme Court held in 1878 "Reynolds v. United States", [98 U.S. 145 (1878).] that a religious belief, however strongly held, does not exempt the believer from adhering to general laws.

Fifth Amendment

elf incrimination

Other protesters argue that the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination allows an individual to refuse to file an income tax return calling for information that could lead to a conviction for criminal acts from which the income was derived, or for the crime of not paying the tax itself.Christopher S. Jackson, "The Inane Gospel of Tax Protest: Resist Rendering Unto Caesar - Whatever His Demands", 32 "Gonzaga Law Review" 291-329 (1996-97).] In response, the courts generally refer to the case of "United States v. Sullivan", where Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote:

By failing to assert the privilege on the tax return, the taxpayer may give the Internal Revenue Service personal information that could possibly incriminate the taxpayer, and the protection of the Fifth Amendment would not be available.

Takings Clause

Some protesters have argued that the income tax is a prohibited "takings" under the Fifth Amendment's Takings Clause,cite web|url=http://www.irs.gov/taxpros/article/0,,id=159932,00.html | title=The Truth About Frivolous Tax Arguments | publisher=Internal Revenue Service | accessdate=2008-03-04 | date=2006-11-30 ] and can not be imposed unless the taxpayer receives just compensation. The United States Supreme Court rejected this argument in "Brushaber v. Union Pacific Railroad". The takings argument and variations of this argument have been officially identified as legally frivolous federal tax return positions for purposes of the $5,000 frivolous tax return penalty imposed under Internal Revenue Code section 6702(a). [ See usc|26|6702, as amended by section 407 of the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006, Pub. L. No. 109-432, 120 Stat. 2922 (Dec. 20, 2006). See Notice 2008-14, I.R.B. 2008-4 (Jan. 14, 2008), Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Department of the Treasury (superseding Notice 2007-30). [Note: As of late September 2007, the linked page at the Cornell University Law School web site for section 6702 does not yet reflect the increase in the penalty amount from $500 to $5,000.] ]

Other arguments

Protesters argue that the income tax violates the Fifth Amendment right that no person shall be "deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law". However, people can be deprived of life, liberty, or property "with" due process of law — this is what the courts do.Daniel B. Evans, " [http://evans-legal.com/dan/tpfaq.html#repeal The Tax Protester FAQ] ", retrieved on 21 Sept. 2007] Legal commentator Daniel B. Evans describes:

quote|Every time a court finds a defendant guilty, the court has deprived the defendant of life or liberty, and every time a court rules in favor of a plaintiff or defendant, the court has deprived either the plaintiff or the defendant of some property. So saying that a court has deprived someone of life, liberty, or property is not particularly interesting unless you can explain exactly what the court did (or did not do) that deprived that particular someone of due process.

Similarly, the general proposition that every man has the right to his own labor does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that the government cannot tax the "common right" of labor. If the government could never impose a tax that took away someone’s rights to their property, then the government could never tax anyone for anything. So the claim that a tax deprives someone of "property" or a "right" is pretty much meaningless.|Daniel B. Evans

Fifth Amendment "due process" arguments by tax protesters were rejected by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in "Kahn v. United States", [753 F.2d 1208, 85-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 9152 (3d Cir. 1985).] by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in "Anderson v. United States", [754 F.2d 1270, 85-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 9261 (5th Cir. 1985) ("per curiam").] by the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in "Cameron v. Internal Revenue Serv.", [773 F.2d 126, 85-2 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 9661 (7th Cir. 1985).] by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in "Baskin v. United States", [738 F.2d 975, 84-2 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 9673 (8th Cir. 1984),] by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in "Jolly v. United States", [764 F.2d 642, 85-2 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 9498 (9th Cir. 1985).] and by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in "Martinez v. Internal Revenue Serv." [744 F.2d 71, 84-2 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 9811 (10th Cir. 1984).]

Thirteenth Amendment

An early protester, Arthur J. Porth, argued that the Sixteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution should itself be declared unconstitutional. His theory was that the income taxes under the Internal Revenue Code of 1939 imposed "involuntary servitude" in violation of the Thirteenth Amendment. That argument was ruled to be without merit in "Porth v. Brodrick, United States Collector of Internal Revenue for the State of Kansas". [214 F.2d 925, 54-2 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 9552 (10th Cir. 1954).] The involuntary servitude argument, and variations of this argument, have been officially identified as legally frivolous federal tax return positions for purposes of the $5,000 frivolous tax return penalty imposed under Internal Revenue Code section 6702(a). [usc|26|6702, as amended by section 407 of the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006, Pub. L. No. 109-432, 120 Stat. 2922 (Dec. 20, 2006). See Notice 2008-14, I.R.B. 2008-4 (Jan. 14, 2008), Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Department of the Treasury (superseding Notice 2007-30). [Note: As of late September 2007, the linked page at the Cornell University Law School web site for section 6702 does not yet reflect the increase in the penalty amount from $500 to $5,000.] ]

Fourteenth Amendment

Some tax protesters argue that all Americans are citizens of individual states as opposed to citizens of the United States, and that the United States therefore has no power to tax citizens or impose other federal laws outside of Washington D.C. and other federal enclaves [" [http://famguardian.org/Subjects/Taxes/Citizenship/NotACitizenUnderIRC.htm You're not a "citizen" under the Internal Revenue Code] ", Family Guardian/Sovereignty Education and Defense Ministry, retrieved on 21 Sept. 2007] The first sentence of Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment states:

Notably, some tax protesters contend that the Fourteenth Amendment itself was never properly ratified, under the theory that the governments of southern states that supported the post-Civil War amendments were not representative of the people. [See generally [http://usa-the-republic.com USA The Republic] , and see 1957 Georgia Memorial to Congress.]

Courts have uniformly held that this argument that the Fourteenth Amendment divested state citizens of U.S. citizenship is plainly incorrect. In "Kantor v. Wellesley Galleries, Ltd.", ["Kantor v. Wellesley Galleries, Ltd.", 704 F.2d 1088, 1090 (9th Cir. 1983).] the court explained that " [w] hile the Fourteenth Amendment does not create a national citizenship, it has the effect of making that citizenship 'paramount and dominant' instead of 'derivative and dependent' upon state citizenship". ["Kantor v. Wellesley Galleries, Ltd.", 704 F.2d 1088, 1090 (9th Cir. 1983).] See also "United States v. Ward", ["United States v. Ward", 833 F.2d 1538, 1539 (11th Cir. 1987).] "Fox v. Commissioner", [T.C. Memo. 1993-37, 65 T.C.M. (CCH) 1831, CCH Dec. 48,842(M) (1993), "aff'd", 95-2 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 50,637 (9th Cir. 1995).] and "United States v. Baker". [2005-2 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 50,509 (11th Cir. 2005) ("per curiam").]

eventeenth Amendment

An argument raised in the case of "Trohimovich v. Commissioner" is that the Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was not propertly ratified, and that all laws passed by Congress since the year 1919 (which was not the year of ratification) are invalid. The "Trohimovich" case involved a criminal contempt charge against the taxpayer in connection with a failure to obey a subpoena to produce books and records needed for the trial of the case. The United States Tax Court stated:

The court rejected the taxpayer's arguments, and ordered that "he be imprisoned for 30 days as punishment" for criminal contempt in failing to obey court orders or subpoenas. ["Trohimovich v. Commissioner", 77 T.C. 252, CCH Dec. 38,121 (1981).]

Titles of Nobility Amendment

Another tax protester argument is that a 'missing' Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution known as the Titles of Nobility Amendment or "TONA" precedes the current Thirteenth Amendment; the missing amendment purportedly would have divested the citizenship of any person receiving a title of nobility. Therefore, actions taken by lawyers and judges, who use the title 'Esquire' (which some protesters claim is a title of nobility), are monarchical, and therefore unconstitutional. This contention, rarely raised before courts, was most recently addressed in "Campion v. Towns", No.CV-04-1516PHX-ROS, *2 n.1 (D. Ariz. 2005) as a defense to a charge of tax evasion. The court replied:

Federal government authority

Sovereign individual, government privilege, and similar arguments

Some tax protesters argue that they should be immune from federal income taxation because they are sovereign individuals or "natural individuals," or on the ground that they have not requested a privilege or benefit from the government. These kinds of arguments have been ruled without merit. For example, in the case of "Lovell v. United States" the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit stated:

The Court of Appeals in "Lovell" affirmed a U.S. District Court order upholding a frivolous return penalty under usc|26|6702(a). Similarly, in "United States v. Sloan", the taxpayer's contention — that he is "not a citizen of the United States, but rather, that he is a freeborn, natural individual, a citizen of the State of Indiana, and a 'master'—not 'servant'—of his government" — was ruled to be not a legal ground for the argument that the taxpayer was not subject to the federal tax laws; the tax evasion conviction was upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. [939 F.2d 499, 91-2 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 50,388 (7th Cir. 1991), "cert. denied", 502 U.S. 1060, 112 S. Ct. 940 (1992).] Similarly, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit stated, in "Powers v. Commissioner": "Powers [the taxpayer] contends that either he is immune from the tax laws, or he is a 'slave' to the federal government. This false choice is a creature of Powers' tax protester ideology, not the laws of this Republic." ["Powers v. Commissioner", 2008-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 50,116 (3d Cir. 2007) ("per curiam"), footnote 1.]

The argument that an individual who received Form W-2 wages or other compensation is not subject to federal income tax because the individual has "neither requested, obtained, nor exercised any privilege from an agency of government" was ruled frivolous by the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in "Sullivan v. United States" [788 F.2d 813, 86-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 9343 (1st Cir. 1986).] and again in "Kelly v. United States" [789 F.2d 94, 86-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 9388 (1st Cir. 1986).] . The argument that an individual who received Form W-2 wages is not subject to federal income tax unless the tax is imposed in connection with "government granted privileges" was ruled frivolous by the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in "Coleman v. Commissioner" [791 F.2d 68, 86-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 9401 (7th Cir. 1986).] . The argument that an individual who received Form W-2 wages is not subject to federal income tax unless the taxpayer enjoys a "grant of privilege or franchise" was ruled frivolous by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in "May v. Commissioner" [752 F.2d 1301, 85-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 9156 (8th Cir. 1985).] . The argument that an individual who received Form W-2 wages is not subject to federal income tax unless the taxpayer has obtained a "privilege from a governmental agency" was ruled frivolous by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in "Olson v. United States" [760 F.2d 1003, 85-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 9401 (9th Cir. 1985).] , and by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in "Prout v. United States" [31 Fed Appx. 624, 2002-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 50,304 (10th Cir. 2002) (not for public.)] . Regarding the taxability of income in connection with events or activities not involving a government privilege or franchise, the United States Supreme Court ruled in "Rutkin v. United States" that the receipt of money obtained by extortion is taxable as income to the wrongdoer. ["Rutkin v. United States", 343 U.S. 130 (1952).] . The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in "James v. United States" that the receipt of money obtained through embezzlement is taxable as income to the wrongdoer, even though the wrongdoer is required to return the money to its owner. ["James v. United States", 366 U.S. 213 (1961).]

The argument that a person's income is not taxed when the person rejects or renounces United States citizenship because the person claims to be a citizen exclusively of a state, and variations of this argument, have been officially identified as legally frivolous federal tax return positions for purposes of the $5,000 frivolous tax return penalty imposed under Internal Revenue Code section 6702(a). [usc|26|6702, as amended by section 407 of the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006, Pub. L. No. 109-432, 120 Stat. 2922 (Dec. 20, 2006). See Notice 2008-14, I.R.B. 2008-4 (Jan. 14, 2008), Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Department of the Treasury (superseding Notice 2007-30). [Note: As of late September 2007, the linked page at the Cornell University Law School web site for section 6702 does not yet reflect the increase in the penalty amount from $500 to $5,000.] ]

Federal zone

Some tax protesters argue that under article I, section 8, clause 17 of the U.S. Constitution, federal income taxes can be imposed only inside an area called the "federal zone" — limited to the District of Columbia and various federal enclaves such as military bases. [See, for example, the arguments in the online document " [http://www.supremelaw.org/fedzone11/index.htm The Federal Zone: Cracking the Code of Internal Revenue] ", specifically the site's page on "United States v. Bevans". [http://www.supremelaw.org/cc/wallens/judicary.htm Memorandum of Law in Support of Challenge to Criminal Jurisdiction of This Court by Sheila Terese Wallen, Defendant, United States v. Wallen, U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, case no. 95-484-WDB] The document includes arguments ruled frivolous, such as "federal zone" argument, and the claim the Fourteenth Amendment created a separate class of citizens because it did not capitalize the word "citizen", while the main body of the Constitution did.] Clause 17 provides that Congress shall have the power:

This argument is based in part on the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of "United States v. Bevans". [16 U.S. 336 (1818).] In "Bevans", the parties argued over whether a federal court in Massachusetts had jurisdiction over the case of a U.S. Marine charged with a murder that occurred on a ship in Boston Harbor. No issues regarding federal income taxation or the Internal Revenue Code were presented to or decided by the Court in the "Bevans" case. The Internal Revenue Code and the Internal Revenue Service did not yet exist in 1818, when the "Bevans" murder case was decided.

The Clause 17 argument was specifically rejected in the case of "United States v. Sato":

The Clause 17 argument was also unsuccessful in "Celauro v. United States, Internal Revenue Service". [411 F. Supp. 2d 257, 2006-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 50,168 (E.D.N.Y. 2006).]

Some tax protesters contend that the U.S. Supreme Court decision in "Caha v. United States" [152 U.S. 211 (1894).] restricts the jurisdiction of the federal government to impose income taxes inside the "states", based on the following language from the Court’s opinion:

Some tax protesters contend that the Court's reference to "those matters" restricted the federal government's jurisdiction over "matters of taxation". "Caha" is not a tax case. The reference to "this statute" was a reference to a "perjury statute". The "Caha" case involved a perjury conviction where the defendant unsuccessfully argued that the federal court had no jurisdiction over a prosecution for the crime of perjury committed in a proceeding in a land office at Kingfisher, Oklahoma regarding ownership of real estate.

The reference in "Caha" to the "laws of congress in respect to those matters" was a reference to the matters of preservation of the peace and the protection of person and property. The Court in "Caha" rejected the argument that the federal courts had no jurisdiction to hear a case under the perjury statute, and the defendant's conviction was affirmed. No issues involving the power to impose and enforce federal taxes in the fifty states were presented to or decided by the court in "Caha".

The courts have uniformly rejected the "federal zone" argument that congressional authority to impose an income tax is limited to the District of Columbia, forts, magazines, arsenals, or dockyards, etc. See, for example, "United States v. Mundt"; [29 F.3d 233, 94-2 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 50,366 (6th Cir. 1994).] "Nelsen v. Commissioner"; [65 T.C.M. (CCH) 2530, T.C. Memo 1993-189 (1993).] "Abbs v. Imhoff". [99-2 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 50,652 (W.D. Mich. 1999).]

Definition of income

"Stratton's Independence, Limited v. Howbert"

Some tax protesters have cited the U.S. Supreme Court case of "Stratton's Independence, Limited v. Howbert" [231 U.S. 399 (1913).] for the argument that an income tax on an individual's income is unconstitutional. This was an argument raised unsuccessfully by John B. Hill, Jr., in "Hill v. United States". [599 F. Supp. 118, 85-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 9148 (M.D. Tenn. 1984).] and without success by John B. Cameron, Jr., in "Cameron v. Internal Revenue Serv.". [84-2 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 9845 (N.D. Ind. 1984), "aff'd", 773 F.2d 126, 85-2 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 9661 (7th Cir. 1985).] In "Stratton", a mining corporation argued that the 1909 corporation tax act did not apply to that corporation. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the 1909 corporation tax act did apply to mining corporations, and that the proceeds of ores mined by the corporation from its own premises were income within the meaning of the 1909 tax act. The Court also ruled that the corporation was not entitled to deduct "the value of such ore in place and before it is mined" as depreciation within the meaning of the 1909 Act. The "Stratton" case involved income taxation of a corporation, not of individuals. The Court in the "Stratton" case did not rule any corporate or individual income tax as unconstitutional.

"Doyle v. Mitchell Bros. Co."

Some tax protesters have cited "Doyle v. Mitchell Bros. Co." [247 U.S. 179 (1918).] for the proposition that income of individuals cannot be taxed. This was the argument raised unsuccessfully by Joseph T. Tornichio in the case of "Tornichio v. United States" [98-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 50,299 (N.D. Ohio 1998), "aff'd", 99-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 50,394 (6th Cir. 1999).] and by Joram Perl in "Perl v. United States" (also unsuccessfully). [99-2 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 50,935 (D. Mass. 1999).] The following language is sometimes cited by protesters:

The above verbiage is immediately followed in the text of the case by this sentence:

In "Doyle", the taxpayer was a corporation engaged in the manufacture of lumber. In 1903, the taxpayer purchased certain timber land at a cost of about $20 per acre. As of December 31, 1908, the value of the land had increased to about $40 per acre. The Corporation Excise Tax Act of 1909 was enacted on August 5, 1909, and was effective retroactively to January 1, 1909. For the years 1909 through 1912, the taxpayer filed tax returns under the 1909 Act, showing gross receipts from the sale of manufactured lumber and, in arriving at the amount of net income subject to tax under the 1909 Act, deducted an amount based on the $40 per acre value, rather than the actual cost of about $20 per acre. The Commissioner of Internal Revenue argued that the taxpayer should be able to deduct only an amount based on the taxpayer’s historical cost basis of $20, rather than the $40 fair market value at the time the 1909 Act became effective. (Essentially, if the taxpayer were allowed to use the $40 per acre value as its basis rather than the actual $20 historical cost basis, a portion of the taxpayer’s gain — the increase in value from 1903 to December 31, 1908 — would go untaxed.)

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that under the 1909 Act — which had become effective January 1, 1909 — the taxpayer should be taxed only on the increase in value after 1908. Increases in value prior to the effective date of the statute were not to be taxed under the terms of that statute. Thus, the taxpayer was entitled to deduct, from its gross receipts from the sale of finished lumber, a basis amount computed with reference to the $40 per acre value as of December 31, 1908. "Doyle" is a case involving "statutory" (not constitutional) interpretation. In this case, the Court was interpreting the 1909 statute. Although some tax protesters cite this case for an argument about the constitutional definition of income as excluding income of individuals, no issues involving the constitutional definition of income, or of income under any other tax statutes, were presented to or decided by the Court.

The case is also notable for the fact that it involved a retroactively imposed tax. The taxpayer did not argue — and the Court did not rule — that as a general proposition taxes could not be imposed retroactively. Indeed, the tax in this case was imposed retroactively; the statute was enacted in August 1909 but was made effective retroactively to January 1, 1909.

Corporate profits

One argument repeatedly made by tax protesters is that the income of individuals is not taxable because income should mean only "corporate profits" or "corporate gain". This is the "Merchants' Loan" argument, named after the case of "Merchants’ Loan & Trust Company, as Trustee of the Estate of Arthur Ryerson, Deceased, Plaintiff in Error v. Julius F. Smietanka, formerly United States Collector of Internal Revenue for the First District of the State of Illinois". [255 U.S. 509 (1921).] The argument is essentially that "income" for federal income tax purposes means "only" the income of a corporation — not the income of a non-corporate taxpayer — because the United States Supreme Court in that case, in discussing the meaning of income, mentioned a statute enacted in 1909 that taxed the income of corporations.

The Court in "Merchants' Loan" was specifically interpreting a 1916 statute imposing income taxes on "individuals and estates" (among other kinds of entities), and not the 1909 corporate tax statute. The taxpayer in "Merchants' Loan" was "not a corporation" but was the "Estate of Arthur Ryerson, Deceased". The Court was not presented with (and did not decide) any issue involving the taxability of "corporate profits" or "corporate gains" or any other kind of income except the gain on the sale of the stock by the "Estate of Arthur Ryerson, Deceased". The terms "corporate profit" and "corporate gain" are not found in the text of the Court’s decision in "Merchants’ Loan". In "Merchants' Loan", the Supreme Court ruled that under the Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and the 1916 tax statute applicable at the time, a gain on a sale of stock by the estate of a deceased person is included in the income of that estate, and is therefore taxable to that estate for federal income tax purposes.

The "Merchants' Loan" argument has been litigated by tax protesters several times, and the courts have uniformly rejected the argument that income consists only of corporate profits. See, for example: "Cameron v. Internal Revenue Serv.", [593 F. Supp. 1540, 84-2 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 9845 (N.D. Ind. 1984), "aff’d", 773 F.2d 126, 85-2 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 9661 (7th Cir. 1985).] "Stoewer v. Commissioner", [84 T.C.M. (CCH) 13, T.C. Memo 2002-167, CCH Dec. 54,805(M) (2002).] "Reinhart v. United States", [2003-2 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 50,658 (W.D. Tex. 2003).] "Fink v. Commissioner"; [85 T.C.M. (CCH) 976, T.C. Memo 2003-61, CCH Dec. 55,068(M) (2003).] "Flathers v. Commissioner"; [85 T.C.M. (CCH) 969, T.C. Memo 2003-60, CCH Dec. 55,067(M) (2003).] "Schroeder v. Commissioner"; [84 T.C.M. (CCH) 220, T.C. Memo 2002-211, CCH Dec. 54,851(M) (2002), "aff’d", 2003-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 50,511 (9th Cir. 2003), "cert. denied", 540 U.S. 1220 (2004).] "Sherwood v. Commissioner"; [T.C. Memo 2005-268, CCH Dec. 56,200(M) (2005).] and "Ho v. Commissioner". [T.C. Memo 2006-41, CCH Dec. 56,447(M) (2006).] Tax protesters — who have lost every case using "Merchants' Loan" for the theory that only "corporate profits" could be taxable — are citing a case where the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the income of a non-corporate taxpayer is taxable. Neither the United States Supreme Court nor any other federal court has ever ruled that under the Internal Revenue Code the term "income" means only the income of a corporation for federal income tax purposes.

Some tax protesters have cited the Supreme Court case of "Flint v. Stone Tracy Co." [220 U.S. 107 (1911).] for the argument that only corporate profits or income can be taxed, using the following quote:

In "Flint v. Stone Tracy Co.", the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the corporation tax act of 1909 did not violate the constitutional requirement that revenue measures originate in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Court did not rule that excise taxes consisted only of taxes on corporations and corporate privileges, to the exclusion of taxes on individuals (natural persons). The issue of the validity of an income tax imposed on individuals was neither presented to the Court nor decided by the Court.

The courts have rejected the argument that "Flint v. Stone Tracy Co." can be used to avoid taxation of wages. For example, in "Parker v. Commissioner", a case where a taxpayer unsuccessfully argued that wages were not taxable, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit stated (in part):

The argument that only corporations are subject to federal income tax, and variations of this argument, have been officially identified as legally frivolous federal tax return positions for purposes of the $5,000 frivolous tax return penalty imposed under Internal Revenue Code section 6702(a). [usc|26|6702, as amended by section 407 of the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006, Pub. L. No. 109-432, 120 Stat. 2922 (Dec. 20, 2006). See Notice 2008-14, I.R.B. 2008-4 (Jan. 14, 2008), Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Department of the Treasury (superseding Notice 2007-30). [Note: As of late September 2007, the linked page at the Cornell University Law School web site for section 6702 does not yet reflect the increase in the penalty amount from $500 to $5,000.] ]

Cases indicating definition of income is irrelevant

At least two federal courts have indicated that Congress may constitutionally tax an item as "income," regardless of whether that item is "income" within the meaning of the Sixteenth Amendment. In "Penn Mutual Indemnity Co. v. Commissioner", the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit stated:

quote|It did not take a constitutional amendment to entitle the United States to impose an income tax. Pollock v. Farmers' Loan & Trust Co., 157 U. S. 429, 158 U. S. 601 (1895), only held that a tax on the income derived from real or personal property was so close to a tax on that property that it could not be imposed without apportionment. The Sixteenth Amendment removed that barrier. Indeed, the requirement for apportionment is pretty strictly limited to taxes on real and personal property and capitation taxes.

It is not necessary to uphold the validity of the tax imposed by the United States that the tax itself bear an accurate label [ . . . ]

It could well be argued that the tax involved here [an income tax] is an "excise tax" based upon the receipt of money by the taxpayer. It certainly is not a tax on property and it certainly is not a capitation tax; therefore, it need not be apportioned. [ . . . ] Congress has the power to impose taxes generally, and if the particular imposition does not run afoul of any constitutional restrictions then the tax is lawful, call it what you will. ["Penn Mutual Indemnity Co. v. Commissioner", 277 F.2d 16, 60-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 9389 (3d Cir. 1960) (footnotes omitted).] |"Penn Mutual Indemnity Co. v. Commissioner"

In "Murphy v. Internal Revenue Serv.", the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that a personal injury award received by a taxpayer was "within the reach of the congressional power to tax under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution" — even if the award was "not income within the meaning of the Sixteenth Amendment". ["Murphy v. Internal Revenue Serv.", 2007-2 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 50,531 (D.C. Cir. 2007). In the "Murphy" case, although Congress had provided a statutory exclusion under usc|26|104(a)(2) for recoveries in connection with a personal physical injury or physical sickness, the award in question had been received in connection with a non-physical injury, and therefore was not covered by the statutory exclusion.]

Progressive taxation

One argument that has been raised is that because the federal income tax is progressive (i.e., because the marginal tax rates increase, or progress, as the level of taxable income increases), the discriminations and inequalities created by the tax should render the tax unconstitutional. This argument was rejected by the United States Supreme Court in two companion cases — with respect to the income tax on individuals in "Thorne v. Anderson", and with respect to the income tax on corporations in "Tyee Realty Co. v. Anderson". ["Thorne v. Anderson" and "Tyee Realty Co. v. Anderson" are published in one report at 240 U.S. 115 (1916). See [http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?navby=case&court=us&vol=240&page=115] .]

Taxing labor or income from labor

Several tax protesters assert that the Congress has no constitutional power to tax labor or income from labor, citing a variety of court cases. These arguments include claims that the word "income" as used in the Sixteenth Amendment cannot be interpreted as applying to wages; that wages are not income because labor is exchanged for them; that taxing wages violates individuals' right to property; and several others.

Another protester argument is that the U.S. Constitution authorizes the income tax only on income derived from activities that are government-licensed or otherwise specially protected. The courts have rejected this theory, ruling that "Congress has taxed compensation for services, without any regard for whether that compensation is derived from government-licensed or specially protected activities, [ . . . ] and this has been construed to cover earnings from labor." [See, e.g., "United States v. Lawson", 670 F.2d 923, 82-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 9197 (10th Cir. 1982). See also "Coleman v. Commissioner", 791 F.2d 68, 86-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 9401 (7th Cir. 1986), where the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit rejected the taxpayer argument that excises could be imposed only on government granted privileges. See also "United States v. Bell", 27 F. Supp. 2d 1191, 98-2 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 50,791 (E.D. Calif. 1998), footnote 8 ("All individuals, natural or unnatural, must pay federal income tax on their wages, regardless of whether they requested, obtained or exercised any privilege from the federal government.") (citations omitted).]

Robert L. Schulz and his We the People Foundation take the positions that the government "is clearly prohibited from doing what it is doing – taxing the salaries, wages and compensation of the working men and women of this country and forcing the business entities that utilize the labor of ordinary American citizens to withhold and turn over to the IRS a part of the earnings of those workers" and "that the federal government DOES NOT possess ANY legal authority -- statutory or Constitutional -- to tax the wages or salaries of American workers." [From website for We the People Foundation, retrieved on March 3, 2008, from [http://www.givemeliberty.org/docs/TaxResearchCD/Attach2-Overview.htm] (capitalization in original).]

Similarly, tax protester Tom Cryer argues that "the law does not tax [a person's] wages", and that the federal government cannot tax " [m] oney that you earned [and] paid for with your labor and industry" because "the Constitution does not allow the federal government to tax those earnings" (referring to "wages, salaries and fees that [a person] earn [s] for [himself] "). [ See [http://www.gcstation.net/liefreezone] .]

Arguments about the taxability of compensation for personal services, whether called wages, salary, or some other term, may be either constitutional arguments as in "United States v. Connor" (see below) [898 F.2d 942, 90-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 50,166 (3d Cir. 1990).] or statutory arguments as in "Cheek v. United States", [498 U.S. 192 (1991).] , depending on the details of the argument. For purposes of presentation, these arguments are summarized here rather than in the article Tax protester statutory arguments. The rest of this section explains these arguments in more detail.

"Evans v. Gore"

Some protesters include false quotations in their arguments. Radio personality Dave Champion contends that the following verbiage is a quotation from the case of "Evans v. Gore" in his own arguments on the internet about federal income taxes:

The quoted material by Dave Champion is false; it does not appear in the Court's decision. [ [http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=253&invol=245 Evans v. Gore, 253 U.S. 245 (1920)] , U.S. Supreme Court] In "Evans v. Gore", the U.S. Supreme Court actually did rule that a federal income tax on certain income of "federal judges" was unconstitutional. The "Evans v. Gore" ruling has been interpreted as barring application of the Federal income tax to a Federal judge who had been appointed prior to the enactment of the tax. [See the U.S. Supreme Court's interpretation of "Evans v. Gore" in "United States v. Hatter", 532 U.S. 557, 121 S. Ct. 1782 (2001).] This was the Court's year 1920 interpretation of the "Compensation Clause", the rule that Federal judges "shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office" under Article III, section 1 of the U.S. Constitution. The decision in "Evans v. Gore" was eviscerated in the 1939 U.S. Supreme Court decision of "O'Malley v. Woodrough", [307 U.S. 277 (1939).] and was expressly overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court itself in 2001, in the case of "United States v. Hatter". [532 U.S. 557, 121 S. Ct. 1782 (2001). See also "United States v. Will", 449 U.S. 200 (1980).] In "Hatter", the Supreme Court stated: "We now overrule Evans insofar as it holds that the Compensation Clause forbids Congress to apply a generally applicable, nondiscriminatory tax to the salaries of federal judges, whether or not they were appointed before enactment of the tax." ["Hatter", 532 U.S. 557 (2001).]

Neither the Supreme Court nor any other federal court has ever ruled that the Sixteenth Amendment (or any other part of the Constitution) does not authorize a Federal income tax on compensation for personal services.

"Colonial Pipeline Co. v. Traigle"

Another case that has been cited for the argument that wages are not taxable is the United States Supreme Court decision in "Colonial Pipeline Co. v. Traigle". [421 U.S. 100 (1975).] An individual named "William Dixon" at a web site called "godissovereignfast" claims that the following is a statement by the U.S. Supreme Court in that case:

::Income taxes statutes apply only to state created creatures known as corporations no matter whether state, local, or federal.", Colonial Pipeline Co. v. Traigle, 421 US 100." [See William Dixon material at [http://godissovereignfast.com/chapter4.html] .]

This material alleged to be a quotation does not appear in the text of the case at all. Also, the words "wages" and "salaries" are not found anywhere in the text, and there is no ruling in that case that the federal income tax statutes apply only to "corporations." The "Colonial Pipeline" case actually involved the Louisiana corporate franchise tax, not a federal tax. The validity of the Louisiana franchise tax was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in this case. No issues involving the validity or applicability of federal income taxes were presented to, mentioned by, or decided by the Supreme Court in the "Colonial Pipeline" case.

"Lucas v. Earl"

For the argument that wages are not taxable, some tax protesters—including convicted tax offender Irwin Schiff—incorrectly attribute to the U.S. Supreme Court the following language in connection with the leading tax case of "Lucas v. Earl":

This language is not from the Court’s opinion in "Lucas v. Earl". [281 U.S. 111 (1930).] Instead, it is an almost direct quote from page 17 of the taxpayer's brief filed in the case. Guy C. Earl was the taxpayer, and the brief was written by Earl’s attorneys: Warren Olney, Jr., J.M. Mannon, Jr., and Henry D. Costigan. In some printed versions of the case, this statement and other quotes and paraphrases from pages 8, 10, 14, 15, 17, and 18 of the taxpayer's brief are re-printed as a headnote or syllabus above the opinion of the Court. [The Respondent's (taxpayer's) brief is available in PDF format at the web site for the College of Law of the University of Cincinnati. See the file " [http://www.law.uc.edu/taxstories/chap09/earl07.pdf earl07.pdf] ".] In the case reprints that include this headnote (and many of them do not even show it), these excerpts are not clearly identified as being from the taxpayer's brief. A person not trained in analysis of legal materials would not necessarily know that this verbiage, like any headnote or syllabus, is not part of the Court’s opinion, perhaps leading to the confusion about the source of the quote. As explained below, the Supreme Court rejected the arguments in the quote, and the taxpayer lost the case.

"Lucas v. Earl" is a leading case in the area of U.S. income taxation, and stands for the "Anticipatory Assignment of Income Doctrine". In the case, Mr. Earl was arguing that because he and his wife, in the year 1901, had made a legally valid assignment agreement (for state law purposes) to have his then-current "and after-acquired income" (which was earned solely by him) be treated as the income of both him and his wife as joint tenants with right of survivorship, the assignment agreement should also determine the federal income tax effect of the income he earned (i.e., only half the income should be taxed to him).

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected that argument, essentially ruling that under federal income tax law all the future income earned by Mr. Earl was taxable to him at the time he earned the income, even though he had already assigned part of the income to his wife, and regardless of the validity of the assignment agreement under state law. The Court in "Lucas v. Earl" did not rule that wages are not taxable.

"Coppage v. Kansas"

One case frequently cited by tax protestersFact|date=March 2008 for the "wages are not taxable" argument is "Coppage v. Kansas" [236 U.S. 1 (1915).] with respect to the following quote:

"Coppage" was a criminal case involving a defendant convicted, under a Kansas statute, of firing an employee for refusing to resign as a member of a labor union. No issues of taxation were presented to or decided by the Court, and the word "tax" is not found in the text of the Court's decision.

"Truax v. Corrigan"

Tax protesters also quoteFact|date=March 2008 from "Truax v. Corrigan" [257 U.S. 312 (1921).] for the argument that an income tax should not be imposed on labor and at least arguably relating "labor" to a right of "property":

The "Truax" case involved a Mr. William Truax who owned a restaurant called "English Kitchen," in Bisbee, Arizona. A Mr. Michael Corrigan and others were former cooks and waiters at the restaurant. Corrigan and others allegedly instituted a boycott of the restaurant, after a dispute arose over the terms and conditions of employment. A strike was allegedly ordered by a local union with respect to certain union members employed at the restaurant. The restaurant’s business was allegedly harmed, and Mr. Truax sued various parties on a variety of grounds. The lawsuit was thrown out by the trial court before the case could be heard, on the theory that Mr. Truax was incorrect as a matter of law. Mr. Truax appealed and the case eventually ended up in the U.S. Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the trial court should not have thrown out the lawsuit, but should have heard Mr. Truax’s case. The case was sent back to the trial court so that a trial could take place. "Truax" was not a tax case. No issues involving taxation were presented to or decided by the Court.

"Butchers' Union Co. v. Crescent City Co."

Tax protesters also cite [See, e.g., the posting of the We the People Foundation, at [http://www.givemeliberty.org/RTPLawsuit/Misc/WashTimesProof2-12-05.pdf] .] the U.S. Supreme Court case of "Butcher's Union Co. v. Crescent City Co." [111 U.S. 746 (1884).] for the argument that an income tax should not be imposed on labor, sometimes quoting the following language:

"Butchers' Union Co." was a case involving interpretation of the Louisiana Constitution and certain ordinances of the city of New Orleans. The Court ruled that the Louisiana Constitution and the New Orleans ordinances did not impermissibly impair a pre-existing obligation under a contract when those laws effectively ended a slaughter-house business monopoly by the Crescent City Company. No issues regarding the power to tax incomes from businesses, vocations, or labor were presented to or decided by the Court, and the word "tax" does not appear in the text of the decision.

"Murdock" case

Tax protesters also quoteFact|date=March 2008 the following verbiage from "Murdock v. Pennsylvania" (also known as "Jones v. City of Opelika"): [319 U.S. 105 (1943).]

"Murdock" (or "Jones v. City of Opelika") was a case involving the validity of a city ordinance (in Jeannette, Pennsylvania) worded as follows:

quote|That all persons canvassing for or soliciting within said Borough, orders for goods, paintings, pictures, wares, or merchandise of any kind, or persons delivering such articles under orders so obtained or solicited, shall be required to procure from the Burgess a license to transact said business and shall pay to the Treasurer of said Borough therefore the following sums according to the time for which said license shall be granted.

'For one day $1.50, for one week seven dollars ($7.00), for two weeks twelve dollars ($12.00), for three weeks twenty dollars ($20.00), provided that the provisions of this ordinance shall not apply to persons selling by sample to manufacturers or licensed merchants or dealers doing business in said Borough of Jeannette.|"Murdock v. Pennsylvania"

A group of people who were Jehovah's Witnesses went from door to door distributing literature in the town. They failed to obtain the license under the ordinance. The case ended up in court, and went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which stated:

The protester argument appears to be that the federal government should not be able to tax income from labor because it would be a tax on an exercise of the freedoms mentioned in the quotation. The "tax" in this case was, in effect, a license fee imposed on door to door sales people under a city ordinance. The city was trying to exact the fee from Jehovah’s Witness members who were going door to door. Questions about the validity of federal income taxes were neither presented to nor decided by the Court.

"Redfield v. Fisher"

Some tax protesters quoteFact|date=March 2008 from "Redfield v. Fisher": [135 Or. 180, 292 P. 813 (1930).]

The argument seems to be that because "the individual's rights to live and own property" are arguably rights against which "an excise cannot be imposed," the federal income tax on income from labor should therefore be unconstitutional. However, "Redfield v. Fisher" is an Oregon Supreme Court case, not a federal case. No issues involving the validity of federal income tax laws were decided by the court.

"Conner v. United States"

Some tax protesters cite a case called "Conner v. United States", [303 F. Supp. 1187 (S.D. Tex. 1969), "aff’d in part and rev’d in part", 439 F.2d 974 (5th Cir. 1971).] with a quote that "Congress has taxed income, not compensation" for the argument that wages are not taxable. This was the case cited unsuccessfully by LaKerra Sumter before the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in the case of "Sumter v. United States". [61 Fed. Cl. 517, 2004-2 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 50,375 (2004).] The "Conner" case involved the taxability of compensation paid by an insurance company to a policy holder whose house had burned down. The insurance company was reimbursing the homeowner for the costs of renting a place to stay after the home burned down — under the terms of the insurance policy. The insurance company was not paying "wages". The court was not presented with, and did not decide, any issue involving the taxability of wages.

"Eisner v. Macomber"

Some tax protesters have citedFact|date=March 2008 the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of "Eisner v. Macomber" [252 U.S. 189 (1920).] for the theory that wages are not taxable.Fact|date=March 2008 The case dealt with a stock dividend on stock that was essentially equivalent to a stock split, as opposed to a cash dividend on stock. In the case of this kind of "dividend" the stockholder does not receive anything or realize any additional value. For example, if a stockholder owns 100 shares of stock having a value of $4 per share, the total value is $400. If the corporation declares, say, a "two for one" stock dividend that is essentially similar to a stock split (and the corporation distributes no money or other property), the stockholder now has 200 shares with a value of $2 each, which is still $400 in value - i.e., no increase in value and no income. The pie is still the same size — but it's sliced into more pieces, each piece being proportionately smaller.

More directly to the point, there has been no "sale or other disposition" of the stock. The taxpayer still owns the same asset (i.e., the same interest in the corporation) he owned prior to the stock dividend. So, even if his basis amount (generally, the amount he originally paid for the stock) is less than the $400 value (i.e., even if he has an unrealized or potential gain), he still has not yet "realized" the gain. The Court ruled that this kind of stock dividend is not treated as "income" to a shareholder.

The Court in this case did not rule on any issue involving the taxability of labor or income from labor, or wages, salary or ordinary "cash" dividends — where the stockholder actually receives a check from the company, etc. Indeed, the terms "wage" and "salary" do not appear in the text of the decision in "Eisner v. Macomber".

Cases where wages or labor ruled taxable

The provisions of the U.S. Constitution authorizing Congress to impose taxes, duties, imposts and excises contain no express exceptions for taxes on wages or labor, or for taxes on income from labor. The courts have consistently rejected arguments that "wages" or "labor" (whether denominated as "labor property" or not) cannot be taxed under the Internal Revenue Code. For example, see:

*"United States v. Connor" [898 F.2d 942, 90-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 50,166 (3d Cir. 1990).] (tax evasion conviction under usc|26|7201 affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit; taxpayer’s argument — that because of the Sixteenth Amendment, wages were not taxable — was rejected by the Court; taxpayer’s argument that an income tax on wages is required to be apportioned by population also rejected);
*"Parker v. Commissioner" [724 F.2d 469, 84-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 9209 (5th Cir. 1984).] (taxpayer's argument — that wages are not taxable — was rejected by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit; taxpayer charged double costs for filing a frivolous appeal);
*"Perkins v. Commissioner" [746 F.2d 1187, 84-2 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 9898 (6th Cir. 1984).] (usc|26|61 ruled by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit to be “in full accordance with Congressional authority under the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution to impose taxes on income without apportionment among the states”; taxpayer’s argument that wages paid for labor are non-taxable was rejected by the Court, and ruled frivolous);
*"Sisemore v. United States" [797 F.2d 268, 86-2 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 9576 (6th Cir. 1986) ("per curiam"), "cert. denied", 107 S. Ct. 274 (1986).] (United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that the federal district court properly dismissed taxpayer’s frivolous lawsuit based on taxpayer’s tax return position that wages do not represent a taxable gain because wages are a source of income and are received in equal exchange for labor);
*"White v. United States" [2005-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 50,289 (6th Cir. 2004), "cert. denied", ____ U.S. ____ (2005).] (taxpayer’s argument that wages are not taxable was ruled frivolous by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit; penalty — imposed under usc|26|6702 for filing tax return with frivolous position — was therefore proper);
*"Granzow v. Commissioner" [739 F.2d 265, 84-2 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 9660 (7th Cir. 1984).] (taxpayer’s argument that wages are not taxable was rejected by the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and ruled frivolous);
*"United States v. Russell" [585 F.2d 368, 78-2 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 9814 (8th Cir. 1978).] (taxpayer's argument -- that the federal income is unconstitutional on the theory that the law cannot tax a "common law right to work" -- was rejected by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit);
*"Waters v. Commissioner" [764 F.2d 1389, 85-2 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 9512 (11th Cir. 1985).] (taxpayer’s argument that income taxation of wages is unconstitutional was rejected by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit; taxpayer required to pay damages for filing frivolous suit).

Related tax protester arguments with respect to wages paid by "employers" to "employees" are (1) that only federal officers, federal employees, elected officials, or corporate officers are "employees" for purposes of federal income tax, (2) that the inclusion of the United States government within the definition of the term "employer" operates to exclude all other employers from the definition, and (3) that with respect to compensation, the tax is imposed only on compensation paid to federal government employees. These arguments have been rejected in court rulings. [See, e.g., "McKinley v. United States", 92-2 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 50,509 (S.D. Ohio 1992).]

Another tax protester argument is that income from labor should not be taxable because any amount the worker receives in exchange for his or her labor is received in an exchange of "equal value," although an exchange in any true "arm's length" fair market value transaction is, essentially by definition, an exchange of equal value. See, for example, the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in "United States v. Buras", [633 F.2d 1356, 81-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 9126 (9th Cir. 1980).] in which the taxpayer's theory — that wages were not taxable because (1) "only profit or gain, such as that from the sale of a capital asset, constituted income subject to federal tax" and (2) " [w] ages could not constitute gain or profit because wages merely represent an equivalent exchange for one's labor" — was rejected. See also the decision of the United States Tax Court in "Link v. Commissioner", [CCH Dec. 56,565(M), T.C. Memo. 2006-146 (2006).] where the taxpayer's argument — that pension income is "labor property" and that when taxpayer receives his pension income from his former employer for whom he once performed services (or labor), any amount he receives in exchange for his labor is a nontaxable exchange of equal value — was rejected.

Further, under the U.S. federal tax laws, even if labor were considered "property" the gain or income from "labor property" would be defined as the excess of the amount realized (for example, the money received) by the taxpayer over the amount of the taxpayer's "adjusted basis" in the "property" (see usc|26|1001). Since the taxpayer can have only a zero "basis" amount in his or her own labor — ["Cullinane v. Commissioner", 77 T.C.M. (CCH) 1192, T.C. Memo 1999-2, CCH Dec. 53,203(M) (1999).] the personal living expenses incurred to generate labor being both non-capitalizable and, under usc|26|262, non-deductible — the "gain" would thus be equal to the amount of compensation received by the taxpayer. Compare "Carter v. Commissioner", [784 F.2d 1006, 86-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 9279 (9th Cir. 1986).] where the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit stated: "The assertion that proceeds received for personal services cannot be given a 'zero-basis for the purpose of the assessment of taxation,' is frivolous. This is a variation of the 'wages are not income' theme, which has been rejected repeatedly by this court." See also "Reading v. Commissioner" (taxpayer's argument — that gain from labor of self-employed individual cannot be determined until the "cost of doing labor" has been subtracted from the amount received — was rejected; validity of usc|26|262, disallowing deductions for personal living expenses, was upheld). [70 T.C. 730, CCH Dec. 35,354 (1978), "aff’d per curiam", 614 F.2d 159, 80-1 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) paragr. 9162 (8th Cir. 1980).] See also "Burnett v. Commissioner" (taxpayer's argument — that wages represent an equal exchange of property and, therefore, are not taxable income — was rejected). [68 T.C.M. (CCH) 811, T.C. Memo 1994-475, CCH Dec. 50,139(M) (1994).]

Wages and salaries, the Sixteenth Amendment, and the "Cheek" case

In dicta in Cheek v. United States, the United States Supreme Court specifically labeled defendant John Cheek's arguments about the constitutionality of the tax law — arguments Cheek had raised in various prior court cases — as "frivolous." [498 U.S. 192, at 204-205.] Prior to his conviction, John Cheek had specifically contended that the Sixteenth Amendment did not authorize a tax on wages and salaries, but only on gain or profit. [498 U.S. 192, at 196.]

Monetary penalties for asserting the argument on tax return

The argument that wages, tips and other compensation received for the performance of personal services are not taxable income, the argument that such items are offset by an equivalent deduction, the argument that a person has a "basis" in his or her labor equal to the fair market value of the wages received, and variations of these arguments, have been officially identified as legally frivolous federal tax return positions for purposes of the $5,000 frivolous tax return penalty imposed under Internal Revenue Code section 6702(a). [usc|26|6702, as amended by section 407 of the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006, Pub. L. No. 109-432, 120 Stat. 2922 (Dec. 20, 2006). See Notice 2008-14, I.R.B. 2008-4 (Jan. 14, 2008), Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Department of the Treasury (superseding Notice 2007-30). [Note: As of late September 2007, the linked page at the Cornell University Law School web site for section 6702 does not yet reflect the increase in the penalty amount from $500 to $5,000.] ]

Notes

References

*
*
*
*
* Danshera Cords, "Tax Protestors and Penalties: Ensuring Perceived Fairness and Mitigating Systemic Costs", 2005 B.Y.U.L. Rev. 1515 (2005).
* Kenneth H. Ryesky, "Of Taxes and Duties: Taxing the System with Public Employees' Tax Obligations", 31 Akron L. Rev. 349 (1998).
* Christopher S. Jackson, "The Inane Gospel of Tax Protest: Resist Rendering Unto Caesar - Whatever His Demands", 32 "Gonzaga Law Review" 291-329 (1996-97).

External links

* [http://evans-legal.com/dan/tpfaq.html#ratification Tax Protester FAQ] - specific rebuttals concerning the ratification of the 16th amendment
* [http://www.irs.gov/taxpros/article/0,,id=159853,00.html The Truth About Frivolous Tax Arguments] - The official response of the IRS.


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