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What Law Requires Us To Pay Taxes?

Hardly a week goes by when someone doesn’t discover my page on IRS tax brackets [3] and leaves a comment about how there is no law requiring us to pay income taxes. Every once and a while, you hear a story about someone refusing to pay their taxes and getting locked up and penalized for it. Case in point, just last month a couple in New York were convicted, between them, of seven felony counts [4] (5 counts of tax evasion and 2 counts of conspiring to defraud the government).

You are legally required to pay income tax. To argue otherwise is at best a political statement (which I think is fine, it’s our First Amendment right) and at worst a one way trip to the slammer.

Want to know which law requires it? Read on.

Internal Revenue Code

Tax law itself is codified in the Internal Revenue Code [5], which is known as Title 26 in the United States Code. The United States Code, as defined by the Government Printing Office, is the codification of general and permanent laws of the United States. It’s divided into fifty “titles” (or volumes) and published by the Office of the Law Revision Counsel of the U.S. House of Representatives every six years, with supplements being made available between editions. In layman’s terms, the United States Code is the collection of laws passed by the legislature and signed by the executive – the Code is law.

Title 26 covers the Internal Revenue Code. The Code itself is a collection of laws that were passed by Congress and bits and amendments were passed through the years. When people talk about AMT reform, they’re talking about passing amendments to adjust who gets affected by the Alternative Minimum Tax.

Which part of the Internal Revenue Code requires us the pay taxes? Section 1 (26 U.S.C. ยง 1), it states:

There is hereby imposed on the taxable income of every individual … who is not a married individual a tax determined in accordance with the following table ….

There you have it, right in the first section of the Code. When taxes are due is set in Section 6076: “[R]eturns made on the basis of the calendar year shall be filed on or before the 15th day of April following the close of the calendar year.” If you are unconvinced, I think I’ve discovered the single most valuable resource on the Internet with regards to the mandatory nature of income tax at Jon Siegel’s Income Tax Page [6]. If you’re really interested, you could spend a good hour poking around at everything in there. Professor Siegel is a Professor of Law at The George Washington University Law School, he knows his stuff.

Finally, if you have any other frivolous tax arguments, the IRS has refuted practically all of them by now [7], including the one about how payment of tax is voluntary [8]. Maybe you can find a new one and get yours added to the list!

(Photo: blmurch [9])