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Repeal the Sixteenth Amendment to The United States Constitution
by Larry P. Arnn and Grover Norquist

It is time to repeal the 16th Amendment, the constitutional provision that authorizes the federal income tax. As its critics predicted when the amendment was passed in 1913, the income tax has become "a terror and torment to the honest citizen." It is absurdly complicated, inefficient and intrusive. Overzealous bureaucrats and politicians frequently abuse it.

The income tax has another major fault: It undermines the Constitution's arrangements for limiting government. The Internal Revenue Service simply has no proper place in our constitutional system.

The Founders who designed our Constitution sought to balance the power of the federal government against the states in order to keep both in check. The national government was thus originally prohibited from collecting taxes from individuals. Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution states: "No capitation, or other direct Tax, shall be laid unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration." This meant that the federal government could collect revenue from the states according to population, but had to leave the methods of collection to them. The federal government was to collect revenue in other, less intrusive ways (tariffs, excise taxes, consumption taxes) so as to limit the amount of money it could raise by its own authority.

For many of the Founders, the very idea of taxing individuals (as opposed to objects, as with a sales tax) was highly offensive. These "capitations" or "head taxes" were regarded as options of last resort, only to be imposed in war or other emergency. The first federal income tax was imposed during the Civil War; it was soon repealed. Not until the 1890s did Congress assess a peacetime income tax. The Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional in 1895. Referring to the explicit prohibition against direct taxation in Article I, the court argued that the income tax would excessively enhance federal power in relation to state power.

The court explained that the rule against direct federal taxation was intended to "promote prudence and economy in expenditure," and, quoting Alexander Hamilton, to ensure that "the abuse of this power of taxation [would be] provided against with guarded circumspection."
The Supreme Court's ruling was nullified when an overwhelming majority in Congress and three-fourths of the state legislatures ratified the 16th Amendment. The votes came amid a frenzy of "soak the rich" rhetoric, which overwhelmed considerations of broader constitutional interests. But experience has taught us that the rich are hard to tax, because it is easy for them to put their money where it does not yield much income. Anyway, most of the money in America belongs to the middle class. Lacking access to sophisticated shelters, we are easy to tax.

Although the first income tax in 1913 was very limited--it applied to just 2% of the labor force, and its highest rate was 7%--it prepared the way for the federal government's almost unlimited access to revenue. It thus provided an almost unlimited ability to fund programs that are properly state matters--crime fighting, education, welfare--and to pressure the states into conforming to a national standard in matters that should reflect regional differentiation, like speed limits and drinking ages.

The new welfare block grants to states are certainly a step in the right direction of getting the federal government out of the business of making everything its business. But wouldn't it be better just to keep all that money in the states in the first place? The federal government collected more than $600 billion in personal incomes taxes in 1996--about half its total revenue-but it spent more than that on welfare, health, education, transportation and housing programs. All these matters properly should be left to the states.

Repealing the income tax would still leave many areas in which the federal government could collect revenue for its proper functions, like defense, while limiting its ability to overreach.

Larry P. Arnn is president of the Claremont Institute. Grover Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform in Washington, D.C.
{This article appeared in the April 15, 1997 edition of the Wall Street Journal} Copyright © 1997 The Claremont Institute

From Empower America

Ten reasons to repeal the US Internal Revenue Service Code Now
1
The current 7-million-word long tax code is so complex that even the “experts” can't figure it out. Each year Money magazine sends out identical tax returns to 50 top tax preparers - and gets back 50 different answers.
2
Indeed, the IRS can't even figure it out: In one study, 47% of all “help” calls to the IRS resulted in inaccurate information.
3
It is so bureaucratically mired that just a short time ago the IRS couldn't even account for how it spent 64% of its own budget.
4
High taxation is holding back American's growth. 40% of the average family's income (the equivalent of one spouse's entire paycheck) now goes entirely to pay local, state, and federal taxes - more than food, clothing, and shelter combined.
5
More Americans work full time to comply with the tax laws than serve in the entire US Armed Forces.
6
The IRS is twice as big as the CIA and five times the size of the FBI.
7
Without a search warrant or trial, the IRS has the “right” to search the property and financial records of American citizens and the “right” to seize property from Americans.
8
A General Accounting Office study found 16,000 errors in liens filed by the IRS in 1990. And the error rate for IRS penalty notices to employers on tax deposits has stood as high as 44%.
9
In 1995, small corporations spent a minimum of $382 in tax compliance costs for every $100 they paid in income.
10
We pay 8 times more in taxes than we did fifty years ago - without getting 8 times more freedom, 8 times more opportunity or 8 times better government.

In my opinion, and without extensive research beyone my personal experiences with the IRS to prove my point, I firmly believe that the IRS destroys more families every year than drugs and alchohol COMBINED. And, some of those problems are a result of the IRS Gestapo techniques.
The Founding Father's of our country specifically excluded income taxation because it would violate the privacy guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.

Here are some links about the subject:
http://www.scrapthecode.com/educating/history.html ... according to the link: "Strange as it may seem, the Sixteenth Amendment (which gave the American people the affliction of confiscatory income taxes) was never supposed to have
passed. It was introduced by the Republicans as part of a political scheme to trick the Democrats, but it backfired.

Wouldn't it be great if the ruling parties could get together and abolish the Income Tax (bye, bye IRS)?Why? Because America would save BILLIONS in overhead costs to government to run the IRS. The costs would be minimalized with the states adding federal taxes to their existing tax structures.

AND, most importantly, it would cut costs for businesses enourmously and enable Americans to better compete. Translation: American jobs would be saved!



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