Monday, May 20, 2013

In America, taxes are voluntary but if you choose to not pay, you’ll be forced to ‘voluntarily’ comply

Dees Illustration
Madison Ruppert
Activist Post

Hidden amongst the reams of reports about the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scandal is one little gem: the outgoing IRS Commissioner Steve Miller said that America’s tax system is “voluntary” in his testimony.

Now, whatever you do, don’t take that to mean that it is actually voluntary in the way that the word voluntary is normally used.

While you might think that voluntary means something which is “done without compulsion or obligation” or “done, made, brought about, undertaken, etc., of one’s own accord or by free choice,” when it comes to America’s “voluntary” tax system, it’s quite the opposite.

If you freely choose not to voluntarily participate in the tax system, you will enjoy being raided by armed agents, prosecuted and sent to federal prison. Quite the voluntary system indeed.

Furthermore, there are some practices that are clearly in no way voluntary. When income taxes are withheld from paychecks, for example, there is nothing voluntary about it.

When Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) said during the recent House Ways and Means Committee hearing on the IRS scandal that the U.S. tax system is “a voluntary system,” Stephen Miller said, “Agreed.”

In fact, Becerra said it is “a voluntary system” twice. Becerra said those exact words at one hour, twenty nine minutes and eight seconds and again at one hour, thirty minutes and thirty five seconds, according to the C-SPAN transcript.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the same thing in an interview with Jan Helfeld in 2008.

In the interview embedded below, Helfeld asked, “If the government is in the business of forcefully taking money from some people in order to provide welfare benefits to others, how will the people whose money is being taken feel about the government?”

“Well, I don’t accept your phraseology. I don’t think we force people,” Reid answered.

“Taxation is not forceful?” Helfeld asked.

“Well, no…” Reid said. “It’s voluntary?” Helfeld asked.

“Quite the contrary. Our system of government is a voluntary tax system,” Reid said.

“If you don’t want to pay your taxes, you don’t have to?” Helfeld asked, to which Reid said, “Of course you have to pay your taxes.”

Intuit, the makers of TurboTax, wrote an article (note: it heavily promotes TurboTax) about what “voluntary compliance” really means. It has nothing to do with the payment of the taxes. That is not voluntary. Instead, it speaks to “the manner in which people submit their own taxes.”

The voluntary part only speaks to the fact that you “are responsible as an individual taxpayer to calculate what you owe. You’re expected to voluntarily comply with the tax code by reporting what you owe to the government and paying the entire amount that you owe under the law.”

“Although the U.S. tax system is voluntary, failure to comply carries stiff penalties,” they note. “The IRS also has the power to levy your bank accounts, garnish your wages and place a lien on your property if you don’t voluntarily pay what you owe. In serious cases, you may even face criminal charges.”

Lysander Spooner, in “No Treason” written from 1867-1870, writes of the notion of voluntary taxation, “this theory of our government is wholly different from the practical fact. The fact is that the government, like a highwayman, says to a man: ‘Your money, or your life.’ And many, if not most, taxes are paid under the compulsion of that threat.”

Calling taxation voluntary in the United States is like calling a prison sentence voluntary: you can voluntarily go to prison, or you can be hunted down like a dog and physically forced to go to prison.

If that’s what you consider a voluntary system, I have several beautiful bridges to sell you.

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This article first appeared at End the Lie.

Madison Ruppert is the Editor and Owner-Operator of the alternative news and analysis database End The Lie and has no affiliation with any NGO, political party, economic school, or other organization/cause. He is available for podcast and radio interviews. Madison also now has his own radio show on UCYTV Monday nights 7 PM - 9 PM PT/10 PM - 12 AM ET. Show page link here: http://UCY.TV/EndtheLie. If you have questions, comments, or corrections feel free to contact him at


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egavacs said...

Back when the minimum-wage was $1.25/hour, taxes were withheld from my pay. Last I heard, when the minimum wage was $7.00/hr, the average wage of an illegal immigrant worker was $7.00/hr.
If working poor people in this country must pay taxes on the minimum-wage, and some of that money is used to pay for health and education of illegal workers, why is the condition known almost exclusively as an "immigration-problem" not being addressed including the financing of this system, in ways a judicious family would handle their earnings? Seems to me, seeing the problem as an 'immigration' problem is only a way to keep those who financially benefit from it situated very comfortably. It's an egregious situation maintained by incompetence, or deceit, or something that needs an extensive public examination.

Anonymous said...

Take the time to learn the code. A great little book called "The Great Internal Revenue Hoax Exposed" by R. J. "Ray" Stenson will help greatly. It was written probably 20 years ago, but I believe it will still help greatly.
Quit being a "taxpayer" as defined by the code. It's not what you think. Quit having taxable income; it's not what you think. Start your own business and quit working for the corporations that run this country. Learn your rights and claim them. Quit supporting communism. If you will study the law long enough you will learn that you do not have a government. What you have is organized crime masquerading as government. Quit supporting organized crime and your own destruction. Understand that federal law only applies to federal persons, federal places, federal subject matter. Do not volunteer into their dens of thievery. "Appear" by affidavit to stay physically clear of any false claim of
federal jurisdiction.
Non-filer/ non-taxpayer since 1980.

Anonymous said...

What makes one liable for paying the so called income tax? If you search you will find that most Americans are not liable for any such tax. The so called income tax only applies to employees of the federal government. We Americans can of course volunteer to pay. If we say that we are federal employees, then of course they will let you pay. Most Americans though do not know that they have done this. All that file a 1040 form and send it in have claimed that they are federal employees. Look at the document number on the form and search it. You will find that this is only for federal employees.

Anonymous said...

A good point was made in the comments about taxes being a program of communism. This is correct, in my opinion. However; history has shown that true capitalism can't provide for the citizenry on it's own. It has to hijack another social system (communism) in order to function. This is especially true in this age of automation, where jobs are being eliminated in record numbers.

People that complain about a coercive tax system need to take a hard look at the failures and shortcomings of our current social system, and the reason for taxes in the first place. 'Welfare', as the term is used, implies that recipients of this are just lazy people who want a handout. This couldn't be further from the truth. The labor being replaced by machines isn't moving to other sectors like it was in the past. There are plenty of Americans who wish to work, but can't because there are no jobs.

We can't all start our own businesses. If we did that, and market share were distributed as evenly as possible, people would have to go to a new store for each item they purchase. This is very impractical, when you consider the energy costs involved. No business owner could have employees either. So, you see how this system wouldn't work, right?

The logic that criticizes the current system of taxation in the comments so far is highly flawed, because the authors haven't proposed a system to replace it. But, I guess that's ok if no one cares about their fellow man, and is complacent when seeing them suffer; which is exactly the behavior that is encouraged by a monetary-market system.

Brendan R

Carroll said...

"Compulsory volunteerism" would be a good term to use when describing how the US income tax system operates. It has often occurred to me that the manner in which the US income tax system operates probably has more to do with a general lowering of honesty and self respect among the general population in this country than has any other one thing. This is undoubtably true, because how could anyone's self respect and honesty not be degraded and compromised by participating in a "voluntary" tax system which punishes honest and above board dealings and disclosures while rewarding hidden and deceptive practices used by virtually everyone as a way of lowering their final tax bill.

Anonymous said...

One of the things that have to change is English or USA language. Everyone calling something or an expression by one name and meaning something different is one hell of way to understand each other. Even the so called savage Indians said “White man speck with fork tongue” Whatever happen to White is White, Black is Black, Good is Good, Bad is Bad?????????

Anonymous said...

The first 1954 Code clearly said "voluntary. Until 1984, "Taxpayers" filed estimates. The IRS was allowed to hire thugs with guns who oppressed, abused and harassed people in order to collect taxes as there were no laws in place making Americans liable for income tax. Only five judges in the US have ever had the courage to read the law or lack thereof and rule accordingly. It is theft on a grand level.

Anonymous said...

I agree that we need a tax system which will fund our communities and their expenses, the type of expenses we all will need some time or another like oh... roads. hospitals. police, etc.

What we need is a clearly defined income tax which is LEGAL, not an income tax which has evaded morality every time you turn around.

But wait- if we had a legal income tax wouldn't we have to rewrite a certain old document?? Therein lies the real problem and the reason why the IRS has been allowed to be generations thugs.

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