I’m just as lazy as the next guy (lazier, even — fuck, I’m in college!), but I prefer to just get the whole tax thing over with as soon as I get the w-2 in the mail. It’s not like I have a choice. Or do I?
I do according to Aaron Russo. He produced the interminable documentary America: From Freedom to Fascism, where he and others claim that there is no written law anywhere in the United States legal code requiring any individual to pay income tax. “But Steve,” you are no doubt saying to your monitors at this very moment, drawing quizzical stares from the others in your campus computer lab/Wi-Fi-equipped café, “aren’t Mr. Russo and his friends overlooking the Sixteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, which clearly declares, ‘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?’” No, for the simple fact that Aaron Russo and those who agree with him believe that the Sixteenth Amendment was never legally ratified, stupid.
Of the thirty-eight states that originally ratified the amendment, only four actually considered and approved the exact text of the amendment proposed by Congress. Most of the differences are just typographical errors, mistakes in capitalization of punctuation that resulted because Congress was too cheap to just mail copies of the proposed amendment to the state legislatures and had the text transmitted over the wire instead. None of the alterations change the meaning of the amendment in any way, and whenever the ratification has been challenged on these grounds, the courts have consistently told the tax protestors to please go fuck themselves. Still, despite the fact that their arguments have been universally rejected for over 80 years, Russo and many others insist that the Sixteenth Amendment was never ratified and they don’t need to pay any fucking income taxes, fuck you very much.
We all hate having to pay income taxes. I understand where Russo and his fellow tax protestors are coming from, but the poor bastards are jousting at windmills. They should at least change-up the strategy a little, try a different tactic than the “there is no Sixteenth Amendment” gambit that has failed every single time it’s been tried. Here’s my favorite: all court decisions upholding the income tax are invalid because lawyers and judges are not U.S. citizens and therefore have no authority to implement or interpret the law. Why are lawyers and judges not U.S. citizens? Because practicing lawyers use the title “Esquire,” which is a title of nobility, and under the Thirteenth Amendment any American who claims a title of nobility is automatically stripped of their citizenship. Quoted below is the hilarious rebuttal to this argument offered by the U.S. District Court of Arizona, in the case Campion v. Towns:
[T]he Court will correct any misunderstanding Plaintiff has concerning the text of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. In his Complaint, Plaintiff includes a certified copy of the Thirteenth Amendment from the Colorado State Archives which was published in 1861. As included in that compilation, the Thirteenth Amendment would strip an individual of United States citizenship if they accept any title of nobility or honor. However, this is not the Thirteenth Amendment. The correct Thirteenth Amendment prohibits slavery.
This version of the Thirteenth Amendment, the Titles of Nobility Amendment (TONA), was proposed in 1810 and only ever ratified in 12 states (including Maryland), 26 shy of the ¾ majority necessary for ratification. Apparently a few states jumped the gun and published copies of the Constitution that included the erroneous amendment, including, judging from the above quote, Colorado, one of the 38 states that didn’t ratify TONA.
Another crackpot conspiracy theory demolished by an inconvenient fact. Yet Russo and his conspiracy theorist allies soldier on undeterred — and why shouldn’t they? The truth never stopped them any other time.