Want to end up in a federal jail cell? The IRS has just issued a list of 40 tax claims that'll help you get your wish.
The official Internal Revenue Service name for these tax, or rather nontax positions, is "frivolous." That's a nice euphemism. I call them, the arguments and their adherents, crazy.
Crazy for thinking these wacky schemes would work. Crazy for thinking you won't get your wrist, or worse, slapped if you use them to avoid paying your tax bill.
I know that tax protesters for many years pointed to the lack of prosecution of some of their "heroes" as evidence that their positions are valid. But that's been changing. Just ask Irwin Schiff, if you can get on Inmate #08537-014's visitor list at the Federal Correction Institution at Fort Dix, N.J. Or if you want to speak to Schiff without cell bars in the way, you can wait until his October 2017 release date to give him a call.
The IRS has been and will keep going after Schiff's compatriots and the companies they create to promote invalid arguments that the U.S. tax system is illegal. Quatloos.com keeps track of financial scams and frauds, including off the wall anti-tax arguments. Check out the site's collection of tax protester junk.
The bottom line is that no court has ever ruled that the Internal Revenue Code is invalid or that Internal Revenue Service has no authority to collect taxes. This IRS page lists just a few of the court rulings against tax protesters.
So save yourself a lot of grief -- and money, not to mention potential jail time -- and quit trying to avoid your tax filing responsibilities on the basis of some wrong reading of U.S. tax law.
The fallacious 40: To make sure you know exactly what won't work, the IRS has spelled out the current top 40 frivolous tax arguments in Notice 2007-30.
Kicking off the list is the ever-popular claim that compliance with tax laws is voluntary or optional. Ten separate arguments in this area are detailed in the IRS document. Among my favorites here:
- A taxpayer may "untax" himself or herself at any time or revoke the consent to be taxed. And what color is the sky in these folks' world?
- And this one, essentially a line-item veto for each taxpayer, is a hoot: A taxpayer may lawfully decline to pay taxes if the taxpayer disagrees with the government's use of tax revenues. If only! Boy, my tax bill would be soooo small.
Also on the no-no list is the contention that wages, tips and other compensation for personal services are not taxable income or can be offset by an equal deduction for those services.
And, of course, there are the various unconstitutionality arguments.
If you don't find your preferred no-tax argument on the list, don't get too excited. The 40th frivolous argument is a catch-all CYA:
Any position described as frivolous in any revenue ruling or other published guidance in existence when the return adopting the position is filed with or the specified submission adopting the position is submitted to the Service.
You can find additional information in this separate frivolous tax argument document (updated March 2018).
And if you just refuse to be convinced, bookmark this find-a-lawyer page. You'll be needing it.
Note to tax protester readers: You can leave comments, preferably without profanity, below. You also can e-mail me. Again, no name-calling is appreciated.
But I just want to let you know that I have real work to do and no time to go around in circles with you on this issue. So don't take my ignoring of your comments, questions and tirades personally.