Taxes are one of those things that we all have to pay. If we don't there are pretty severe consequences. But why do we have to pay them in the first place? When did this system begin? In the U.S. federal taxes were not mandatory until Congress passed a law in 1913 which gave itself the power to levy taxes on the public regardless of which state one lives in. Many, however continue to protest that this law is unconstitutional. Unfortunately for those protestors, the IRS and Courts don't quite empathize with their points of view.
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I’m sure you’ve all heard of Wesley Snipes, right? What you may not know is that this millionaire landed himself in jail for three years after trying to get away with not paying over 7 million bucks in taxes. Why does our government believe it has the right to take away our hard earned cash and use it for flying jet planes and bombing Arab villages? Well listen and find out.
First what do taxes do? Well there are many viewpoints on this, and some might say they do nothing. Some might even say they do more harm than good. But the reality is, regardless of your position, taxes pay the salaries of the people in government – like all those Congress people you see in suits on TV. It also provides us with infrastructure like roads, and other random little stuff like the nutrition labels on the side of your Lucky Charms. It pays for public schools, the military, police, fireman and a bunch of other stuff.
What about the kinds of taxes we have to pay? Taxes come in all shapes and sizes. The ones that probably affect us the most are our federal and state income tax which is based on a percentage of money that you make. Generally, the more money you make the higher percentage of tax you have to pay. However, that’s not always the case as there are loopholes and secrets that people like Mitt Romney know about so that he doesn’t have to give away so much of his money to his colleagues. We also pay sales tax on just about every item we buy from the gallon of milk in your fridge to the pack of condoms in your bedside drawer. Finally there is property tax, which most of us millennials will probably never have to worry about, so let’s just move on.
Ok here’s the big question. Why? Well paying taxes is our civic duty. Without it we would not be able to pay our politicians their salaries, or maintain an active military that is able to fight the wars on terrorism from the deserts of Nevada, or fund a public education system that is responsible for developing the young minds of our future. (U.S. Music Fade Out). Let’s not kid ourselves here, though. What’s the real reason? If you don’t pay up, agents dressed in black suits will come for you with loaded guns. If you resist you’ll be murdered. If you don’t, you’ll be locked away behind steel bars. Don’t forget Wesley Snipes. If they can capture a human vampire, they can get you too. Don’t take the red pill. Or is it the blue pill? I don’t remember. But you’re probably not the One, so just stay in the Matrix.
So what about all those people, like Snipes, who say paying taxes is unconstitutional. Well their claims are kind of bullshit, unless they were living before Feb 3, 1913 when the 16 Amendment was passed which states, “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.” So yeah, not illegal anymore.
Ok so what’s the deal with all the tax protestors then? Most of their arguments come from the language of tax code. For example the 861 Argument used by some tax protestors, which interprets some of the tax code as making income tax invalid. However, this argument and pretty much all others have been held by courts as incorrect. In fact the IRS wrote a whole handbook about these kinds of protests. It’s called “The Truth About Frivolous Tax Arguments.” In it they go over common tax protestor arguments. For example, some say paying taxes is voluntary due to the language used in some of the law written. But the IRS says that what’s voluntary; is choosing whether to fill out the paperwork to determine your tax liability yourself or have the government do it for you. Also some say it’s against their belief system to pay taxes. Well, the IRS says that tax deductions are given to the charitable nature of religious institutions rather than what their beliefs are. It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you either pay your taxes or give it to charities that are eligible for tax deductions.