Money, Status, and Taxes
We're said to be in a culture war, characterized, among other things, by an assault upon traditional values. That is clearly exemplified by our use, or misuse, of language. We term sexual perverts "gay," which seems about as reasonable as calling them "amphibious" or "fleecy." Taxes are called "contributions," and demagogues "activists." We are particularly sloppy as regards our own status, or that of others. We seem to be under the impression that it doesn't matter.
In this election year, for example, we hear a great many terms bandied about as if they meant something. A modern politician is most likely to view government as an agency to shape public behavior, provide for public needs, transfer funds to favored causes, and determine public morality. Any institution of any size or influence should be governmentally regulated. An aspiring candidate with this view of government would fit handily into virtually any large political party in any country. In America, such politicians term themselves Democrats or Republicans, but what difference exists between the parties is certainly not obvious. What is their status, or standing? Well, in a political spectrum from left (totalitarianism) to right (anarchy), they stand in a bunch, shoulder to shoulder, to the left. As a group, they are as alien to the concept of America as outlined by the Founding Fathers as they can be, but nobody seems to care.
Perhaps that is because the members of the public are confused about their own status, which can also mean "position with respect to the law." Almost all Americans see themselves as "persons," "individuals," or "taxpayers." If you suggested to them that they should question this status, they would likely regard you with amusement. After all, they ARE all those things, aren't they?
Readers of this website are interested in economics, not politics, but the two cannot be separated. The most important consideration in anybody's economic scheme is taxation. No economic plan is complete without consideration of it; no personal budget can be drawn without taking it into account. The top 10% of earners (over 79,000) pay 63% of all income taxes, the button 50% pay 4.3%. Obviously, any way that one with even a modest income can reduce the tax burden is important; indeed, there is probably nothing more important that one could do to further his economic well-being than to shrug off this government-imposed load. To do that requires some understanding of one's status: where one stands with respect to the law.
A great deal is assumed. When you hear the words "Democrat" or "Republican," you make certain tacit assumptions, which are quite likely to be incorrect. You can assume, for example, that the Democrats are the party of the "little guy" with a lunch pail, while the Republicans shower favors on the "fat cats" of Wall Street. Similarly, if you review tax statutes (that alone would be remarkable) you encounter words such as "person," "individual," or "taxpayer," and make certain assumptions, again, quite likely incorrect. You assume that those words apply to you, and to virtually everybody else.
Interestingly, you won't find the word "citizen" used very often in the income-tax statutes (Title 26, United States Code). If you look in the Code—and your public library has it---for the word "citizen," you will be referred to "citizenship." There, searching the entries for a link to Title 26, the income tax, you will find a couple of references to the gift tax. If you go about it the other way, and look under "income tax" for references to "citizen," you will find a reference to "citizens about to leave the country," and "citizens living abroad." Just for fun, try checking out "income tax" for "alien." Wow! Eight pages—hundreds of references,--- with such familiar headings as "exemptions," "withholding," "deductions," etc, all with reference to "persons" or "individuals" or "taxpayers." It kind of makes you wonder what your status is!
Perhaps you are a sovereign citizen. In the Dredd Scott case, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court wrote "They (the people of the United States) are what we familiarly call the sovereign people and every citizen is one of these people and a constituent member of the sovereignty." And in another case, the Supreme Court declared "Since in common usage, the term "person" does not include the sovereign, statutes employing the phrase are ordinarily construed to exclude it." (U.S. v. Fox 94 U.S. 315)
One might reasonably conclude that the U.S. originally imposed the income tax upon those under its authority: employees of government, residents of Washington D.C., and other federal possessions, including enclaves within the States, and aliens living and working here by government consent. By the time of the second World War, few Americans were paying an income tax. The withholding tax inaugurated in 1942 brought large numbers of Americans into the system, although they were perhaps tricked into volunteering as a patriotic duty. Presently, the income tax plays such a large role in the economy that, from the government's point of view, it must be defended by any means, even though it wreaks havoc upon the rights of the citizens, and makes a mockery of due process. From the citizen's standpoint, conversely, it is obviously detrimental to well-being and prosperity, and must be removed.
A very modest first step in that process is learning your true status. Who you are makes a difference! "It is the doctrine of the common law that the sovereign cannot be sued in his own court without his consent." (The Siren, 74 U.S. 152) When the Supreme Court spoke those words, the sovereign it referred to was the United States. However, we the people created the United States, and whatever limited sovereignty it has came from us. We do not laugh when we hear our elected popinjays refer to themselves as sovereign, but if they can do so with their limited sovereignty, how much more entitled are we to so designate ourselves, as the creators of their sovereignty, and possessors of sovereignty in the fullest measure possible!
Yes, we bestowed limited authority upon them, including the authority to tax, but we certainly did not relinquish our sovereignty in the process, nor did we designate them our masters. Yet the income tax accomplishes that, in addition to the enormous economic harm it causes. For generations, Americans have been intimidated into waiving their Constitutionally-guaranteed rights, to facilitate the operation of the IRS. You cannot comply with income tax regulations without waiving your right to free speech, your right to privacy in your papers and documents, your right not to witness against yourself, and your right to freedom from involuntary servitude. How can the government which we created to guarantee and protect those rights demand that we waive them so that it can tax us? It can't, so it piously insists the tax is voluntary. If you volunteer to act as tackling dummy for your local football team, you thereby obligate yourself to follow the rules they set down for you, and you have no one to blame but yourself for the cuts and bruises you will experience. The IRS wants us to be its tackling dummies, and it has succeeded in convincing us that we have a duty to volunteer, and be dummies. The great majority of us do just that. Indeed, we have become so accustomed to this self-denigration that we don't think twice when some bureaucrat says "Jump!"
It's time—indeed, past time—that we remind our public servants that the proper attitude of a servant is servility; and that if we are the public, and they are the servants, we, not they, give the orders!