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It is interesting to note, however, that the income tax law was revoked 10 years later, revived in 1894 and then ruled by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional in 1895.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 or http://www.whitehouse.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.)
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