Federal Income Tax Legality, Part 3: Meaning of Terms

This is the third article in a series dedicated to explaining the various arguments that some groups and individuals use for not paying federal income tax to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  The first article in this series addresses the “voluntary” nature of federal income tax, while the second article speaks to the definition of income.  Read on to learn more on this topic, and as always, if you have questions about your specific tax situation, you should speak to a tax professional.

Paying taxes is required for both citizens and...

Third Argument Against: Meaning of Terms

This article is dedicated specifically to the various terms used in the IRS’ Internal Revenue Code, as depending on the definition of or interpretation of these various terms, people should not have to pay income tax.

Taxpayers are not citizens of the United States.

This argument claims that people are citizens of the state or territory they live in, not citizens of the United States as a whole.  Therefore, people are free from paying taxes to the federal government of the United States on their income.

However, the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States defines a citizen of the United States as anyone who is born in the United States or who chooses to become a citizen of the United States.  Therefore, since the Fourteenth Amendment identifies people born in a state of the United States as a citizen of the United States, not just of that state itself, then these people are subject to paying income tax.

States are not a part of the United States.

Another argument is that states are sovereign territories that are not part of the United States, since the United States technically includes only the District of Columbia and federal territories.  Therefore, those who live in states, not being part of the United States, do not have to pay federal income tax to the United States on their income.

But the Internal Revenue Code clearly identifies those living in states as being subject to income tax.  This stance is also supported by the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which gives the government the power to tax those in the United States.

Taxpayers are not people as defined in the Internal Revenue Code

Some claim that the definition of people in the Internal Revenue Code is such that it does not apply to them.  Therefore, their income is not subject to federal income tax as defined in the Internal Revenue Code.

However, the Internal Revenue Code has defined a person as an “individual, trust, estate, partnership, or corporation.”  As such, those in the United States clearly fall within the definition of person in the Internal Revenue Code and are therefore subject to paying income tax.

Only employees of the government are subject to federal income tax.

This argument puts forth that the federal government only has the power to tax those who are employed by the federal government.  As a result, the income of the vast majority of those living in the United States is not subject to federal income tax put forth by the federal government.

Although the Internal Revenue Code does specifically reference employees of the federal government as being subject to federal income taxes, the Code does not specifically exempt others from paying federal income tax.

Tax Attorney Information

If you need help completing your federal income tax return or simply have questions about you taxes, speak with a tax attorney who has knowledge of the Internal Revenue Code and can speak to how the law applies to your situation.

by Mark Johnston

Mark has been a contributor to legal web sites related to bankruptcy, tax, and criminal law since 2011. He has an Accounting degree from Texas A&M University.