Tax time is fully underway at Acropolis as we help clients and their accountants get the information they need to prepare their taxes. It’s a cumbersome process for everyone (although the accountants have it the worst by a long-shot) that concludes with writing a check to the government.
People might not be so bothered by the whole process if they felt that their money was going to good use, but there is so much waste in the government that most people feel like it’s an insult on top of an injury.
An extreme minority of people take some pretty outlandish views that taxes are illegal, contrary to the Constitution and, best of all, we don’t have to pay them!
One of my favorite claims is that the tax system is voluntary. Tax protesters often point to some Congressional testimony in 2013 where the IRS Director at the time ‘admits’ that the tax system is voluntary as if it’s some kind of ‘gotcha’ moment (here’s the video clip on www.youtube.com)
The tax system is voluntary in the sense that the people compute their own taxes – the federal government doesn’t send you a bill, like your local assessor does with property taxes. Instead, you and your accountant calculate and substantiate your own tax bill and send in the payment, which is, in fact, mandatory.
Another amazing claim is that federal taxes impose involuntary servitude on the people and therefore violate the 13th amendment that freed slaves in 1865. I mean, this is absurd on its face – what would Lincoln say!
I’m not even talking about some of the nuttier conspiracy theories like that none of the relevant case law on the matter applies because the titles in the court cases are in all capital letters.
That’s right, the 1938 case HELVERING v MITCHELL that settled the matter of the ‘voluntary’ nature of the system, doesn’t apply because the capitalization of both names suggests that the parties in the case are fictitious since that’s not how the people write out their names.
Of course, paying taxes is mandatory, legal and in keeping with the Constitution, no matter how much we might dislike the whole affair. Not paying taxes can lead to hefty fines and even jail time.
The well-known actor Wesley Snipes, famous for White Men Can’t Jump and New Jack City argued the ‘861 theory’ that income earned in the US by citizens isn’t subject to tax, had to pay $5 million in back taxes and penalties and spend three years in jail.
I guess it’s possible that there is a cabal of crooked government officials, Supreme Court justices and their civilian henchman (known as CPAs, like our own Stacie Brost) have contrived a vast and felonious mechanism to steal from the people, but I would have to assume that the military industrial complex is behind it, so I feel like I should just belly up to the bar and pay the taxes before they send a drone into my neighborhood with a hellfire missile that’s got my name on it. (Just kidding NSA, you guys are great!)
When I think about it that way, tax time doesn’t seem so bad anymore…