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Income Tax: Voluntary or Mandatory?
Jon Siegel's Income Tax Protestors Page
 

Around the web you can find scores of people and organizations touting the concept that there is no obligation to pay income taxes. These "tax protestors" (also called "tax protesters," "tax deniers," or "tax defiers") have dozens of theories, each kookier than the last. There is an eerie fascination to these theories, many of which are laced with so many references to the tax code and regulations that they have a veneer of plausibility that just might fool a naive lay person.

The notion that there is no legal duty to pay income tax is a complete myth. As a small public service, this page explains the errors in some popular tax protestor theories.

 
Who is this page for?
Who is this page not for?
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Tax Protestor Myths

Statutory Myths
 

Constitutional Myths

 

General Myths

 

Who is this page for?

This page is for people who have heard or read arguments that the federal income tax system is “optional” or “voluntary,” and who are not certain of what to do. It’s for people who find the arguments sufficiently persuasive or tempting that they are actually thinking of ceasing to pay taxes.

I hope that by explaining in straightforward terms where the obligation to pay taxes comes from, and what is wrong with the arguments to the contrary, this page can stop people from making a big mistake that will cost them a lot of time, trouble, and money and that could land them in jail.

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Who is this page not for?

This page is not for people who firmly believe that there is no obligation to pay income taxes and who are not interested in learning the truth. If you meet this description, don’t bother reading this page.

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Who am I?

I’m a law professor, so researching the law is my trade. The income tax is not my primary field of expertise, but I am well versed in understanding federal statutory law. I provide this page as a public service because I believe the amount of misinformation proliferating on the Internet with regard to the federal income tax is harmful. It is harmful to those people who are fooled by it into believing that they don’t have to pay income tax. It may cause such people to end up having to pay extra amounts in interest and penalties, and it may land them in jail. It is also harmful to the millions of Americans who are honest taxpayers, because if other people don’t pay the taxes they owe, we eventually end up having to pay more.

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Other Useful Pages

If you're interested in tax protestor arguments that aren't covered here you might try one of these pages:

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