The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.
That is the 16th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
Our government managed to rattle along without an income tax until this amendment was ratified in 1913. It’s ironic that this particular amendment was placed in the Bill of Rights, since it has become a method of limiting many of the other rights that Americans enjoy.
For instance, our system of jurisprudence is based on the notion that the individual citizen is regarded as innocent until proven guilty. What that means in practice is that the government actually has to prove that someone has broken the law before it can deprive that person of life, liberty or property.
However, the income tax laws turn this completely on its head. The government does not have to prove anything as regards income tax violations. It merely makes the charge and the individual citizen is tasked with proving their innocence. That is what income tax audits are all about. The government is operating on the idea that you are guilty of income tax evasion until and unless you can prove yourself innocent. The topper is that the government can be as invasive and onerous as it wants in these audits.
I know from personal experience that even a one-page tax form concerning employment with regular documented salaries can turn into an audit that costs the tax payer thousands of dollars and ties them up for many months. In other words, the government can audit an individual or a small business into bankruptcy, even if the business or the individual actually can prove that their taxes are clean and the government’s charges are bogus.
The powers granted to the government through its enforcement of the 16th Amendment are draconian enough without the application of political vendettas and personal malice. That’s why there are laws which are supposed to protect us from that sort of thing.
However, as our government veers away from the people, there is less to keep it in check. I’m not sure why a people that blandly accepts the idea that their government is reading their emails and listening in on their phone calls would be surprised to learn that this same government is also abusing the power inherent in the tax codes.
Maybe they’re not surprised.
Maybe it’s just that we the people have been battered so much by these repeating crises that we’ve become somewhat response damaged. Or perhaps we’re getting weary of voting the crooks out of office and then getting another set of crooks just as bad.
How many times have the voters of this country risen up and tossed the bums out?
And how much good has it done us?
That’s because the bums are replaceable by other bums, all of whom are owned and controlled by the same special interests. We can replace the puppets, but we don’t touch the puppet masters.
Maybe this is why there has been so little reaction to the news that the Obama administration exchanged information about people’s tax files with the IRS.
Or maybe people don’t understand that this is probably an illegal activity.
Or maybe people are just too tired to respond.
Which is it, I wonder? Are we losing hope in our ability to make our government respond to us?
Again, I am not sure. What I do know is that each succeeding administration tops the previous one in running over the American people.