America’s founders vs. the IRS
Documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request revealed that agents for the Internal Revenue Service are bypass- ing warrants and sifting through the email and other electronic communications of American citizens.Those documents disclosed that “agents were told they didn’t need a warrant to root through emails, texts or Facebook pages of people [the IRS] is investigating,” according to Fox News.
Despite the fact that IRS e-mail surveillance is a clear affront to privacy and civil liberties, last week the IRS categorically stated that it has done nothing wrong. The agency denies countrywide accusations that it is violating the Fourth Amendment, which guards citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures. According to a 2009 IRS employee handbook, the Fourth Amendment does not protect private e-mails because internet users don’t “have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such communications.”
And the American Civil Liberties Union is complaining that the IRS is dropping its guard on protecting citizens’ privacy by not deploying basic web security, i.e., using “https” encryption. Instead of shielding citizens when they view various sensitive materials on its website, the IRS is offering them as prey to third-party e-predators.
The ACLU explained: “That ‘s’ after the ‘http’ may seem insignificant, but it means a lot. It signifies that Google is using Secure Sockets Layer encryption, or SSL, to both encrypt and authenticate its communications. When you visit google.com and you see ‘https’ at the beginning of the address, it lets you know that your connection is secure, and that third parties — such as your internet service provider, employer or university cannot monitor what you’re doing through the use of network interception technology.”
The IRS might retort that other government websites don’t employ “https” encryption to restrict third-party viewing, either, but the fact is that other government sites don’t bear our finances and a host of other private information (such as Social Security numbers) to the world. That is why the IRS should employ encrypting security on its website like any other financial or credit institution.
The items above are a few more reasons the taxation system in our country is broken and can’t be fixed. As I pointed out in last week’s column on how the IRS is robo-auditing your spending, our country desperately needs to abolish the present tax code and enact the FairTax — a system, I believe, even our Founding Fathers would have been proud of. Best of all, it wouldn’t require a monstrosity the size of the IRS to run it.
Remember that the IRS wasn’t started until nearly 100 years after the Revolutionary War, in 1862 as the Bureau of Internal Revenue. Its creation coincided with the creation of the income tax, which it was designed to collect. Both were the work of President Abraham Lincoln and Congress, which saw income taxes as necessary to pay for Civil War expenses.
It is interesting to note, however, that the incometax law was revoked 10 years later, revived in 1894 and then ruled by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional in 1895. Yet in 1913, it became law through the 16th Amendment. Ever since then, the income tax has deprived families of their rightful earnings, restricted our liberties and deprived our economy of money that could be invested in productive enterprises.
Our founders did not penalize productivity through taxes the way we do today. They had no IRS. And they believed in minimal taxation. They did not pay export taxes, which were unconstitutional, but they did tax imports. The founders believed in free trade within our own borders and a system of tariffs on imported goods.
Most of our founders were opposed to domestic taxes. Though taxes were levied for some goods back then, for roughly the first 150 years of our republic (until the inception of the income tax in 1913), the burden of taxation was laid largely upon foreigners, not American citizens, via tariffs (imports). Thomas Jefferson shared with Gouverneur Morris in 1793, “It must be observed that our revenues are raised almost wholly on imported goods.”
But even if some taxes were incurred by America’s citizens, most founders believed that taxes should be temporary rather than perpetual because of the temptation for politicians to abuse that taxation power. Jefferson spoke for many when he wrote, “Taxes should be continued by annual or biennial re-enactments, because a constant hold, by the nation, of the strings of the public purse, is a salutary restraint from which an honest government ought not to wish, nor a corrupt one to be permitted to be free.”
That is why I say that if the Founding Fathers were alive today, I truly believe they would support the FairTax as a way forward and out of our taxation chaos and tyranny. As James Madison said, “taxes on consumption are always least burdensome because they are least felt and are borne, too, by those who are both willing and able to pay them; that of all taxes on consumption, those on foreign commerce are most compatible with the genius and policy of free states.”
The FairTax would do away with all taxes and put in their place a single consumption tax. It would be equitable because we all would pay the same percentage. No one, whether poor or wealthy, could dodge his fair share.
That is why I say that everyone in Washington needs to answer the question Jefferson asked at the dawn of our republic: “Would it not be better to simplify the system of taxation rather than to spread it over such a variety of subjects and pass the money through so many new hands?” If you answer that question in the affirmative, call or write your representatives, and then contact the White House at 202-456-1111 orwhitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments to share your sentiments about abolishing the IRS and enacting the FairTax. You can educate yourself and others about the FairTax by going to FairTax.org.