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Historical Perspectives on the Federal Income Tax

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This report addresses some of the frequently asked historical, constitutional, procedural, and legal questions concerning the Federal income tax.

The constitutional questions include a discussion of: Congress's taxing power; the difference between a direct and an indirect tax; Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination and tax returns; Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures and tax collection practices; Thirteenth Amendment protections against involuntary servitude and tax withholding; Equal Protection and Due Process questions; and the legality of the ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment.

Other questions addressed include: whether title 26 of the United States Code is positive law; the taxability of wages; the voluntary or involuntary nature of the income tax; what is meant by the income tax "being in the nature of an excise tax;" when was the Internal Revenue Service established; the authority of the Internal Revenue Service to operate outside of the District of Columbia; what is meant by the term United States or United States citizen in the context of the Internal Revenue Code; what is the "Liberty Amendment;" the use of the revenues raised through the Federal tax on telephone usage; taxation without representation; the repeal of the original withholding act; and the frivolous tax return penalty.

This report is an update and revision of CRS Report by Howard Zaritsky entitled Some Constitutional Questions Regarding The Federal Income Tax Laws: issued as report 79-131, dated May 26, 1979; updated by Mr. Zaritsky as report 80-19, January 17, 1980; and updated again by John R. Luckey as report 84-168, September 26, 1984.

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