Thursday, December 21, 2006

Beware Income-Tax Casuistry

Updated

The Future of Freedom Foundation has posted at its website my three-part series "Beware Income-Tax Casuistry." In that series I analyze the claim that the income tax is unconstitutional and illegal. The results might be other than you'd expect. Just because the income tax is immoral and illegitimate doesn't mean it is unconstitutional and illegal. See what you think. Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here. Part 3 is here.

This series has upset more than a few members of the tax-protestor movement. It's gotten me denounced as an impostor and an ignoramus. If I were conspiracy-minded, I'd suspect that the tax-protest movement was an IRS front set up to discredit serious libertarians.

7 comments:

James Greenberg said...

Well, Sheldon, the truth is hard to bear. That the law is what the ruling elites tell us it is, well, that's just too much truth for the average person.

I recommend John Hasnas' "The Myth of the Rule of Law" for anyone who's interested.

Sheldon Richman said...

An excellent paper, indeed, James. I'm a big fan of Hasnas.

I'll probably have more to say about the "tax protestor" movement in the coming days. I've been taking a lot of flak, but the talking points are always the same. These snake-oil salesmen prey on unsuspecting people who think they have a short-cut to liberty. I wish they were right, but they are frauds or dupes.

Sheldon Richman said...

By the way, Hasnas's paper is here.

Dean said...

You might consider addressing the tax protester argument that we are not legally required to file a 1040.

Your series leaves me a little confused. You say we shouldn't have to pay taxes and tell us we legally have to. Is there nothing left for us to do? It seems to me massive non-compliance would be a good thing, yet this idea gets no merit from you.

The law is whatever the god you worship says it is.

Charles Johnson (Rad Geek) said...

Dean,

I don't think that Sheldon objected to "massive non-compliance" with tax laws, at least not in this series of articles. What he objected to is the idea that tax protesters can get away with non-compliance by means of sophisticated lawyering.

I can't speak for Sheldon, but as far as I'm concerned, anyway, there is absolutely nothing wrong with evading or openly defying an unjust law. But if that's what you choose to do, your choice should be grounded in principles of civil disobedience, not by trying to conjure up a Constitutional or statutory proof-text for your convictions. If you choose to be a tax evader or a tax resister, you should do so with a clear knowledge and an informed acceptance of the fact that you're putting your person and property at risk, and that no government court is going to let you off the hook if you get caught.

The arguments that right-legalist tax protesters use are specious (as Sheldon demonstrates), and in general it is stupid to pretend that some esoteric legal incantation is going to save you from government reprisals when you defy tyrannical laws. That pretense obscures the real issue (which is moral, not legal), and also gulls people into taking serious risks without a full knowledge of the likely consequences.

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