By Kyle Rearden
“The effect of the ability-to-pay doctrine in practice is to discourage production. If an increasing portion of what I earn is taken from me – and that is the intent of the graduated income tax – then my inclination will be to cut down on my earnings. Men work to satisfy their desires, not to pay taxes. There is no sense in keeping my barn full if the highwayman empties it regularly and I have no means of preventing him from so doing…that is the effect of the ability-to-pay doctrine. If we examine the income tax carefully we find that it is not a tax on income so much as it is a tax on capital. When the government takes from me is not what I consume but what I might have saved.”
– Frank Chodorov (1954)
Right from the very beginning, I was pleased to see the following copyleft notice:
“Published by Darrell Anderson. Written by Darrell Anderson. All rights reserved. First Edition 2006. ISBN: None. Library of Congress Card Catalog Number: None. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. This means you are free: To share: to copy, distribute, and transmit the work. Under the following conditions: Attribution: you must attribute the work in the manner specific by the author or licensor (but not in any way suggesting the author or licensor endorses you or your use of the work). Noncommercial: You may not use this work for commercial purposes. No Derivative Works: You may not alter, transform, or build upon this work. Thank you for cooperating and understanding.”
This is so awesome that I honestly think that the late Aaron Swartz would be proud. I honestly wish that more content producers within the alternative media would choose from among the market selection of copyleft options available in whatever they think is appropriate for their original works.
Anderson’s preface is one of the better ones I’ve ever read in a free ebook, because he expertly sets the tone for the rest of his book, and he absolutely delivers. He says:
“Researching the history of the income tax is challenging. Many people have tried to evaluate this history, but because many people study the income tax with a prejudiced opinion, understanding this tax is not easy. In this book I take a different route. I wanted to understand how we humans got into the awful predicament witnessed today.”
No kidding! As a systematic grievance, the federal income tax is the Holy Grail of the patriot movement, and unfortunately, many of them (as well as others comprising the “tax honesty movement”) fail to accurately comprehend the nature of the income tax itself; so, is it any wonder that many of their purported legal remedies rarely achieve their stated ends? Anderson writes:
“Few people like the income tax. Almost everybody has heard the stories of the militant Gestapo-like tactics of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employees. Harassment stories abound, including abuses of upstanding businessmen, house wives, and even Congressmen…[m]any people are fed up. Estimates are that anywhere from 10 to 60 million people no longer file an income tax return. People still pay the tax, but many simply refuse to file returns and refuse to pay the tax…[m]ake no mistake, the income tax system is crumbling, and the politicians and bureaucrats have no peaceful solution.”
Obviously, the referenced congresscritter here was none other than the indomitable George Hansen, who was tortured by federal prison officials in various ways, one of which included diesel therapy. David Burnham’s exposé of IRS abuses, too, just piles on case study after case study demonstrating the tyranny of the Administrative Agencies as an unaccountable federal bureaucracy; yet, statists would have you believe that you deserve to be raped in a government dungeon for years if you don’t bend the knee and kiss the ring of power these IRS bureaucrats falsely imagine they wear. Anderson continues:
“How did this problem arise? The answer is much like the old proverb about the camel’s nose in the tent. Conspiracy theories are unnecessary to understand how this tragedy and socially destructive tax system evolved. A key to understanding this madness is knowing that the problem grew slowly and mostly out of ignorance. Using ignorance as a cornerstone, add a healthy dose of deception, obfuscation, and greed. The law of unintended consequences prevails. One thing led to another and the result is a tax system today that contributes significantly in attacking and destroying the core of our social fabric.” [emphasis added]
Imagery like this pervades the rest of the book, and I think it’s useful for conceptualizing the multifaceted elements of the federal income tax as simply as possible. I appreciate how Anderson properly disregards conspiricism, which violates Hanlon’s razor like a binging crack addict. Obeying epistemological razors indicates that the final product will likely be of good quality, more often than not (at least, in my experience).
Such a comprehensive yet clear examination of the federal income tax like Anderson has birthed goes in a lot of different directions, so I would like to focus on both an economic truth and a legal distinction here. Regarding economics, Anderson said:
“The process of taxation is a never-ending recursive cycle of continuing rising costs and prices. This is true even when ignoring the hidden costs of an unstable currency system, which continually erodes the exchange power of currency. As politicians increase their desire for revenues, more taxes are levied. As people further embrace legal plunder, more taxation shifts wealth from one class of people to another. As sellers pass the cost, buyers raise the cost of their skills and knowledge. As the buyer raises those costs, that effort raises the cost of commodities and products. As prices rise, the cost of skills and knowledge again rises to cover the higher expenses. As prices rise, politicians see the need to raise more revenues and raise taxes. The problem is recursive…[t]hus, nobody escapes this maddening recursive game.”
What an excellent description of taxation as a form of self-inflationary legal plunder! As I’ve mentioned before, Leviathan has no wealth, so any pretense of money it has it first had to inflate, borrow, or tax away from the productivity of the hapless democratic citizenry – inflation destroys the capital saved from the past, taxation robs from the fruit of one’s labor in the present, and borrowing enables deficit spending whose bill is footed upon the backs of the unborn. That being said, I think Anderson is correct for pointing out that taxation is itself inflationary given enough time, even if there was no repulsively disgusting Federal Reserve central bank.
Regarding legality, Anderson’s observation about the alleged difference between direct and indirect taxes is quite significant, for he said:
“The important lesson to see is that distinguishing taxes through vague definitions such as Direct Tax and Indirect Tax are exercises in futility. These vague terms have caused much confusion with taxes on income. That is, constitutionally a direct tax must be collected by apportionment, but that does not mean a tax collected by apportionment is correctly labeled a direct tax, or that if a tax is collected without apportionment that such a tax is automatically defined an indirect tax.”
Whether we be talking about how taxes, income, or even wages are legally defined, the fact of the matter is that lawfare is fraught with confusion, period. Such befuddlement, if you will, is part and parcel of legalese. Anderson also wrote:
“The legal debate about whether the income tax is a direct tax or an indirect tax is irrelevant. If collected as a direct tax – which the income is – the rule of apportionment does not apply to the specific property of income. If collected as an indirect tax then the rule of apportionment again does not apply. If the tax is collected as a direct tax then no rebuttal argument applies because there are no rules to restrict or limit collection.”
Is it really any wonder why I consider the law to be a racket? Why should anybody be surprised as to the very existence of American political prisoners? Hell, do the constitutionalist patriots (that is, minarchists) even care about liberty or freedom anymore now that Donald Trump was selected by the Electoral College to be the Tyrant-in-Chief?
Darrell Anderson’s The American Income Tax: Theft Under Color of Law is a wonderfully insightful book, and truly one of a kind. Honestly, I can’t say enough good things about this book to do it justice. It is truly a work nothing short of genius, and it’s well-sourced and documented with bibliographic endnotes at the end of each chapter. Anderson noticed the following about people’s reactions to the income tax, which I think is worth mentioning:
“Tax protesters have discovered this insane world. Although many wild and scary theories abound in this environment, one observation is sure. The ideas and theories of many protesters are no more idiotic, strange, or colorful than the many respective Supreme Court decisions passed down through the years. The problem with this tax is not only that resisters and protesters are zealous in this fight, but other than the compulsively honest, just about all people seek ways to avoid and evade this tax.”
Yeah, that’s about the sum of it, isn’t it? Unlike Hansen, Anderson correctly draws a distinction between tax protesters and tax resisters, which I appreciate, because not everybody who is civilly disobedient bothers checking first with the government’s voluminous laws in order to ascertain to what extent their illegality is, well, illegal. Most enlightening also is Anderson’s insight regarding the cognitive processes of tax protesters and tax resisters alike:
“Possibly the most frustrated tax protester or resister is the person who wants only to live a quiet and peaceable life but sees rampant extortions and abuse throughout this system. Even if such a person philosophically opposes all taxation, such people probably would never pose a problem if only the extortions were nominal and politicians and voters exercise some semblance of fiscal restraint. The income tax is contemptible and fails to qualify as a reasonable tax to support any political system, let alone a ‘limited government.’ The concepts of self-ownership, rights, property, contracts, and consent become meaningless.” [emphasis added]
Right there, this suggests that the very grievance of a federal income tax debunks any notion whatsoever of a hypothetically “limited” government. Before anyone tells me to either “love it or leave it,” I would remind everyone that I have canceled my voter registration back in 2013, so I have revoked my consent to be governed to the extent that the State will legally allow me to do so; the pertinent question now is, am I still obligated to obey their laws against my consent? If so, then how is government tyranny any different from rape, honestly?
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