Thirty years ago, I lived around the corner from the San Fernando Valley Main Post Office in Van Nuys. My CPA tax filing season ended on April 14, so I was home on the night of April 15. I used to walk my dog down to the Post Office that night and watch the people depositing their tax returns at 10:00 pm. Cars were lined up Sherman Way onto the freeway offramp conjesting the slow lane for about a quarter of a mile.
My favorite pasttime were the people picketing on the sidewalk telling people not to fiile tax returns because it was a violation of the Constitution. I didn’t let on I was a CPA, but wanted to know their reasoning.
- Contention: Taxpayers do not have to file returns or provide financial information because of the protection against self-incrimination found in the Fifth Amendment.
There is no constitutional right to refuse to file an income tax return on the ground that it violates the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. As the Supreme Court has stated, a taxpayer cannot “draw a conjurer’s circle around the whole matter by his own declaration that to write any word upon the government blank would bring him into danger of the law.” (So, don’t take the 5th, it may land you in 3 to 5 in a penitentiary.)
2. Contention: Compelled compliance with the federal income tax laws is a form of servitude in violation of the Thirteenth Amendment.
“If the requirements of the tax laws were to be classed as servitude, they would not be the kind of involuntary servitude referred to in the Thirteenth Amendment.” (It may feel like slavery, but not the kind imagined in the 13th Amendment.)
3. MY FAVORITE, Contention: Federal Reserve Notes are not income.
Proponents of this contention assert that Federal Reserve Notes currently used in the United States are not valid currency and cannot be taxed because Federal Reserve Notes are not gold or silver and may not be exchanged for gold or silver.
The Court has completely obliterated this contention, so don’t try it.
As a CPA, we don’t really consider any basic contention to taxes constitutionality. Don’t get convinced by a protester, or it can cost you your freedom. Speak to your CPA or tax advisor before you do anything in the tax arena.
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