It is once again “tax time,” that time of year when the IRS claims tax forms are due. There are some people who say that based on the wording of the IRS code the average worker is not required to file a tax return. Some of those people have even gone to jail for failure to file. Others like to point to statistics similar to the infamous 47% figure that gained notoriety during the 2012 Presidential election, which is the approximate percentage of people who do not pay federal income taxes. Most of the people who mention that statistic, do so in an effort to shame those who don’t pay any federal income tax. Every time I hear a statistics like this, I’m reminded of the Whitey Harrell trial. Mr. Harrell was charged with not filing an Illinois State tax return and was acquitted by the jury. Marcella Brooks, the juror that was vocal in getting the acquittal, recounts in America: Freedom to Fascism that the other members of the jury said “but he’ll get away with it.” Mr. Harrell was acquitted because the IRS couldn’t show the law that proved he was required to file a federal income tax. Millions of Americans are like the members of that jury – they’re not really upset that others aren’t paying; they’re upset that they are!
I’m not really concerned with whether or not there is a law, statute, regulation, or ordinance in place that says anyone must file a tax return. I’m not concerned, because there are many laws, statutes, regulations, and ordinances in place around the world that attempt to control people, by forcing them to do or not do certain things. In the past, there were laws that said one human could own another human against his will, that if a slave escaped he would be returned to “his master,” and that it was illegal to assist a run-away slave. Did those laws make involuntary servitude moral? No, nor did the laws that allowed the Germans to incarcerate and murder anyone of Jewish descent, make those acts any less heinous. Just because something is mandated under law does not make it right any more than a law prohibiting something makes it wrong.
The real unanswered question regarding taxes is not “what is someone’s fair share?” But rather: Does anyone else own the fruits of your labor?