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Do US Citizens Have to Legally Pay Taxes?

Posted on | May 2, 2012 | 1 Comment

We all work hard for our money and we all want life to be fair, so of course, when buzz begins to circulate about the possibility of US citizens not having to pay income tax… we jump right on it. But trust me, when something sounds a little too good to be true, it’s usually because it is.

Unconstitutional you say?

According to believers of this idea the 16th Amendment was never ratified, and therefore we shouldn’t have to pay taxes.

However, the amendment states that the government will collect taxes from its citizens.  This seems pretty cut and dry, however a man named Bill Benson, author of The Law that Never Was, argued that the amendment should not be included in the constitution because it was not properly ratified by the thirty-six states needed at the time to pass. Benson claims that none of the states properly legally went through the process of ratification and even found “evidence” proving that at least four of the states that were documented as ratified actually had paperwork stating their opposition or non-support of the amendment.

There were some spelling and capitalization errors on copies of the documents returned to the Secretary of State. However, Secretary Knox, aware of these small mistakes, adopted the amendment, seeing no need to throw it out based on such trivial and superficial errors.

Neiner Neiner Neiner

What many of the believers also think is that if you do not pay your taxes, even if accused and convicted of this, you will still avoid jail time, just… because.

Benson was indicted in 1980 and in 1981 for tax evasion After attempting to use hi research as his defense strategy, he was promptly found by a jury to be guilty on all counts. Anyone who has attempted to use his “evidence” in their defense or to support their negligence to pay income tax, has suffered the same consequences as he did. He is now infamous for tax evasion.

In addition to jail time, Benson also got a hefty law suit from the Department of Justice for manufacturing and selling tax scheme documents and interfering with the IRS. Benson was charging $3,500 for his “Defense Packages” and was ordered in the suit to stop, post a copy of the citation on his website and handover to the government all the personal information of his customers including social security numbers.

I believe the lesson learned here is that if you want something to be true, somehow, somewhere, especially in the internet era, you can dredge up “information” to support your fact or theory. But tread lightly, if you follow in Benson’s footsteps, there is nothing but trouble ahead.

TaxAlmanac offers up a discussion of tax evasion jam packed with tax urban legends containing a mixture of desperation and hope to downright humor and everything in between.

George Gallagher writes for a handful of personal finance and economic blogs. When not writing he works with young people to sort out their private student loan consolidation questions.


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Comments

One Response to “Do US Citizens Have to Legally Pay Taxes?”

  1. Matthew
    May 22nd, 2012 @ 2:36 am

    Hi George,

    I have heard of Benson’s story but I was not aware of the outcome of his attitude–jail. Has anybody been able to legally prove that US citizens do not have to pay taxes and avoid living in jail after that?
    Matthew´s last blog post ..Flexcords Resistance Bands Set Review | by FlexcordsMy Profile

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