Along with the misinterpretation of the Internal Revenue Code, many people use their own interpretation of the amendments to the constitution of the United States to prove their point. When such arguments are brought before the courts or the IRS, they do not stand a chance because they have been dismissed by the courts many times before. The IRS calls such arguments ‘frivolous arguments. Below are 5 frivolous arguments regarding constitutional amendments that taxpayers must best avoid. 

 

  1. Taxpayers can refuse to pay income taxes on religious or moral grounds by invoking the First Amendment

Some people believe that they can refuse to pay federal income taxes based on their religious or moral beliefs. They invoke the First Amendment and/or the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”) to back their stance. 

The IRS explains that the First Amendment provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” 

The First Amendment in no manner says that citizens of the United States have the right to refuse to pay income taxes on religious or moral grounds. RFRA also does not give citizens the right to avoid payment of taxes for religious reasons. 

 

  1. The IRS violates the Fourth Amendment when it searches and seizes 

There are a few who believe that summonses sent by the IRS to taxpayers and to third parties are unconstitutional because they violatthe Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against warrantless search and seizure.

This is far from the truth. The United States Supreme Court has held repeatedly that “the Fourth Amendment does not prohibit the obtaining of information revealed to a third party. The Fourth Amendment also provides that “no Warrants shall issue” unless there is “probable cause.” 

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that the IRS “need not meet any standard of probable cause to obtain enforcement of [IRS] summons.” Where the enforcement of an IRS summons is challenged, the IRS bears the initial burden of showing “good faith compliance with summons requirements,” which may “be demonstrated by the affidavit of the IRS agent.” 

 

  1. Federal income tax constitute a “taking” of property without due process of law

Another frivolous argument is that the collection of federal income tax constitutes a “taking” of property without due process of law, which violates the Fifth Amendment. 

The lRS corrects this stance: “The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that a person shall not be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law . . . .  

The United States Supreme Court stated that “it is . . . well settled that [the Fifth Amendment] is not a limitation upon the taxing power conferred upon Congress by the Constitution; in other words, that the Constitution does not conflict with itself by conferring, upon the one hand, a taxing power, and taking the same power away, on the other, by the limitations of the due process clause.” 

 

  1. Taxpayers do not have to file returns or provide financial information because of the protection against self-incrimination in the Fifth Amendment

Some claim that they can refuse to file income tax returns, or can submit tax return without providing the required financial information because the Fifth Amendment provides them protection against self-incrimination.

The truth is that there is no constitutional right to refuse to file an income tax return on the ground that it violates the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.   

The Supreme Court has rejected this argument stating that a taxpayer cannot “draw a conjurer’s circle around the whole matter by himself declaring that to write any word upon the government blank would bring him into danger of the law.” 

 

  1. Compelled compliance with the federal income tax laws is a form of servitude & violates the Thirteenth Amendment 

This argument asserts that being compelled to comply with federal tax laws is a form of servitude, which is a violation of the Thirteenth Amendment.

The IRS clarifies: “The Thirteenth Amendment prohibits slavery within the United States as well as imposing involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime of which a person shall have been duly convicted.” 

Courts have consistently regarded this argument that taxation constitutes a form of involuntary servitude to be frivolous. 

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