Walter E. Williams

Individually, Americans do not deserve to be subservient to such a fear-mongering, intimidating and powerful agency as the Internal Revenue Service; but collectively, we do. Let's look at it.

Since the 1791 ratification of our Constitution, until well into the 1920s, federal spending as a percentage of gross domestic product never exceeded 5 percent, except during war. Today federal spending is 25 percent of our GDP. State and local government spending is about 15 percent of the GDP. That means government spends more than 40 cents of each dollar we earn. If we add government's regulatory burden, which is simply a disguised form of taxation, the government take is more than 50 percent of what we produce.

In order to squeeze out of us half of what we produce, a government tax collection agency must be ruthless and able to put the fear of God into its citizens. The IRS has mastered that task. Congress has given it powers that would be deemed criminal if used by others. For example, the Constitution's Fifth Amendment protects Americans against self-incrimination and being forced to bear witness against oneself. That's precisely what one does when he is compelled to sign his income tax form. However, a Fifth Amendment argument can't be used as a defense in a court of law. The IRS will counter that you voluntarily provided the information on your tax return.

If you're in debt to Bank of America, Wells Fargo or any other private creditor, in order for it to garnish your wages as a means of collecting debt, it must first get a court order. By contrast, the IRS can garnish your wages without having to get a court order first. If your employer doesn't obey the IRS and send it a portion of your wages, he will be held accountable for what you owe. At the minimum, some IRS collection procedures violate one of the basic tenets of the rule of law -- namely, the law of the land applies equally to individuals (and other private entities) and the government (and its officials and agents).


Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
 
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