The Income Tax Implies that Government Owns You


“…what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people? Still one more thing, fellow citizens a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.” – Thomas Jefferson (1801)


FEE

Jeffrey A. Tucker

The income tax is enshrined into law but it is an idea that stands in total contradiction to the driving force behind the American Revolution and the idea of freedom itself. We desperately need a serious national movement to get rid of it – not reform it, not replace it, not flatten it or refocus its sting from this group to that. It just needs to go.

The great essayist Frank Chodorov once described the income tax as the root of all evil. His target was not the tax itself, but the principle behind it. Since its implementation in 1913, he wrote, “The government says to the citizen: ‘Your earnings are not exclusively your own; we have a claim on them, and our claim precedes yours; we will allow you to keep some of it, because we recognize your need, not your right; but whatever we grant you for yourself is for us to decide.”

He really does have a point. That’s evil. When Congress ratified the 16th Amendment on Feb. 3, 1913, there was a sense in which all private income in the U.S. was nationalized. What was not taxed from then on was a favor granted unto us, and continues to be so.

This is implied in the text of the amendment itself: “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.”

No Limits

Where are the limits? There weren’t any. There was some discussion about putting a limit on the tax, but it seemed unnecessary. Only 1% of the income earners would end up paying about 1% to the government. Everyone else was initially untouched. Who really cares that the rich have to pay a bit more, right? They can afford it.

This perspective totally misunderstands the true nature of government, which always wants more money and more power and will stop at nothing to get both. The 16th Amendment was more than a modern additive to an antique document. It was a new philosophy of the fiscal life of the entire country.

Today, the ruling elite no longer bothers with things like amendments. But back in the day, it was different. The amendment was made necessary because of previous court decisions that stated what was once considered a bottom-line presumption of the free society: Government cannot tax personal property. What you make is your own. You get to keep the product of your labors. Government can tax sales, perhaps, or raise money through tariffs on goods coming in and out of the country. But your bank account is off-limits.

The amendment changed that idea. In the beginning, it applied to very few people. This was one reason it passed. It was pitched as a replacement tax, not a new money raiser. After all the havoc caused by the divisive tariffs of the 19th century, this sounded like a great deal to many people, particularly Southerners and Westerners fed up with paying such high prices for manufactured goods while seeing their trading relations with foreign consumers disrupted.

People who supported it – and they were not so much the left but the right-wing populists of the time – imagined that the tax would hit the robber baron class of industrialists in the North. And that it did. Their fortunes began to dwindle, and their confidence in their ability to amass and retain intergenerational fortunes began to wane.

Limit to Accumulation

We all know the stories of how the grandchildren of the Gilded Age tycoons squandered their family heritage in the 1920s and failed to carry on the tradition. Well, it is hardly surprising. The government put a timetable and limit on accumulation. Private families and individuals would no longer be permitted to exist except in subjugation to the taxing state. The kids left their private estates to live in the cities, put off marriage, stopped bothering with all that hearth and home stuff. Time horizons shortened, and the Jazz Age began.

Class warfare was part of the deal from the beginning. The income tax turned the social fabric of the country into a giant lifetime boat, with everyone arguing about who had to be thrown overboard so that others might live.

The demon in the beginning was the rich. That remained true until the 1930s, when FDR changed the deal. Suddenly, the income would be collected, but taxed in a different way. It would be taken from everyone, but a portion would be given back late in life as a permanent income stream. Thus was the payroll tax born. This tax today is far more significant than the income tax.

The class warfare unleashed all those years ago continues today. One side wants to tax the rich. The other side finds it appalling that the percentage of people who pay no income tax has risen from 30% to nearly 50%. Now we see the appalling spectacle of Republicans regarding this as a disgrace that must change. They have joined the political classes that seek advancement by hurting people.

The Payroll Tax

It’s extremely strange that the payroll tax is rarely considered in this debate. The poor, the middle class and the rich are all being hammered by payroll taxes that fund failed programs that provide no security and few benefits at all.

It’s impossible to take seriously the claims that the income tax doesn’t harm wealth creation. When Congress wants to discourage something – smoking, imports, selling stocks or whatever – they know what to do: Tax it. Tax income, and on the margin, you discourage people from earning it.

Tax debates are always about “reform” – which always means a slight shift in who pays what, with an eye to raising ever more money for the government. A far better solution would be to forget the whole thing and return to the original idea of a free society: You get to keep what you earn or inherit. That means nothing short of abolishing the great mistake of 1913.

Forget the flat tax. The only just solution is no tax on incomes ever.

But let’s say that one day we actually become safe from the income tax collectors and something like blessed peace arrives. There is still another problem that emerged in 1913. Congress created the Federal Reserve, which eventually developed the power to create all the money that government would ever need, even without taxing.

For the practical running of the affairs of the state, the Fed is far worse than the income tax. It creates the more-insidious tax because it is so sneaky. In a strange way, it has made all the debates about taxation superfluous. Denying the government revenue does nothing to curb its appetites for our liberties and property. The Fed has managed to make it impossible to starve the beast.

Chodorov was correct about the evil of the income tax. Its passage signaled the beginning of a century of despotism. Our property is no longer safe. Our income is not our own. We are legally obligated to turn over whatever our masters say we owe them. You can fudge this point: None of this is compatible with the old liberal idea of freedom.

You doubt it? Listen to Thomas Jefferson from his inaugural address of 1801. What he said then remains true today:”…what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people? Still one more thing, fellow citizens a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.”

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A Tax on Income Attacks Life Itself


FEE

by

Our lives and liberties are unsafe so long as it exists

The least of the problems with income tax is that it takes your money. The really big problem is that the income tax takes your life. It gives the government direct access to the things you own and sets up the political-bureaucratic sector to be the final arbiter of what you can and cannot consider to be yours.

Illustrating this point is the bitter realization that the IRS considers it completely legal to demand access to your electronic communications whenever it wants. This news came about in 2013 because of a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The filing unearthed a 2009 memo that stated outright: “The Fourth Amendment does not protect communications held in electronic storage, such as email messages stored on a server, because Internet users do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such communications.”

Forget search warrants and legal processes. In the interest of getting its share, the government can have it all on demand. This assertion was made again in 2010 by the IRS’s chief counsel: The “Fourth Amendment does not protect emails stored on a server” and there is “no privacy expectation” on email.

A Century of Intrusions

This assertion openly contradicts a 2010 legal decision from the Sixth US Circuit Court of Appeals. United States v. Warshak said that the government must obtain a probable cause warrant before forcing people and providers to cough up email archives. Granted, even that’s not much protection. Government always has its “probable cause.”

Good for the ACLU for making an issue of this. But at some level, it’s all beside the point. The problem isn’t the legal process that allows the government to do what it wants; the problem is that government has a hook into personal income that allows powerful people to have their way with the whole of your life.

As we look back at the history, we can see that the income tax enabled a century of intrusions into our lives. It’s been 100 years of a form of imposition that no American in most of the 19th century could have ever imagined or tolerated.

The income tax is what enabled Prohibition, for example. Without the ability to monitor and adjudicate how people made money, the power of enforcement would not have been there at all. (Remember that Al Capone was not convicted for bootlegging, but for tax evasion.)

It is what made possible the central planning of the New Deal. The government’s presumption that it owns the first fruits of labor gave rise to wage controls and mandatory participation in the Social Security system. It allowed the central planners to push aside young workers and tell them that they aren’t allowed to be part of the workforce. It allowed the introduction of the minimum wage that continues to shut out whole sectors of society.

And look what happened during World War II. The price controls on wages and salaries – made possible only because the income tax gave government a fiduciary interest – inspired companies to start offering health-care benefits as part of the compensation package.

That practice was intensified over the decades until it became mandatory. That practice is a major source of the health care problems we have today. So there we have it: There is a direct link from Obamacare today back to the income tax of 100 years ago.

The Root of All Evil

Frank Chodorov, author of the enduring masterpiece, was right to call the income tax the “root of all evil.” We look back to history and are in awe that anyone ever had the full right to earn whatever money he or she wanted to and to never have to tell the government about it. But that was the way it was for the dominant part of American history.

That’s the system once called freedom.

It’s striking when you realize just how completely unnecessary the income tax is for the funding of government. What if we cut back government spending by exactly the amount the income tax collects? That would take us back in time to 2006. Was the government really too small back then? Would society really collapse if we went back to a government we had just ten years ago?

Yes, the government likes our money and always wants more of it. But more crucially, the government uses the income tax as a primary means of controlling not just our money, but the whole of our lives. That’s the real purpose of the income tax and why the government will fight for its preservation to the end.

Right now, many Americans are sweating it out to get their taxes done in time for the filing deadline. It would be immeasurably hard without the brilliant companies that have put together software programs – updated constantly! – that make what would otherwise seem impossible rather easy. This is the type of thing that free enterprise and the private sector do. They help us to have better lives.

But government? What does it do? It takes. It snoops. It controls. It destroys.

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Greeks Stop Paying Taxes Ahead Of Elections As Central Bank Scrambles To Halt Bank Run Rumors!


It appears taxpayers everywhere are learning from the best: their insolvent governments. In this case, Greek (non) taxpayers have decided to slow down their mandatory remittances to the government even more because the government may just not exist in two short weeks.

Speaking to Kathimerini, a top ministry official confirmed the major slowdown in the rate of applications for debt settlement, and referred to post-election consequences from the shortfall in state revenues. The tax collection mechanism appears to be largely out of action while expired debts are swelling due to taxpayers’ wait-and-see tactics and the reduction in inspections. The same official pointed out that it is normal for revenues to lag during election periods, adding that this time there is no scope for shortfalls.

Socio-Economics History Blog

Eurozone collapse is coming! Eurozone collapse is coming!

  • Greeks Stop Paying Taxes Ahead Of Elections As Central Bank Scrambles To Halt Bank Run Rumors! 
    by Tyler Durden, http://www.zerohedge.com
    In what appears to be a desperate attempt to boost confidence in a failing financial system taken right out of the 2011/2012 playbook, over the weekend the National Bank of Greece had its latest “subprime is contained” moment and loudly announced that “the situation with deposit outflows from the country was under control” as it tried to reassure markets ahead of a Jan. 25 snap election, reports Kathimerini.

    Why the urge to frontrun concerns of bank runs? Simple: the Greek media reported that there have been significant deposit outflows in recent days due to political uncertainty two weeks ahead of early elections.

    read more!

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