Editors note: We use the term "THM" frequently throughout this site. This stands for the Tax Honesty Movement and is simply what that says, honestly about the law and the nature of these taxes.
Many thousands of American citizens have become convinced that the federal income tax has no application to the typical working American. They believe that the IRS is misapplying the federal income tax law and is, therefore, acting outside its lawful authority. Many of those citizens have made a difficult decision to refuse to pay federal income taxes. When returns and taxes are demanded of them they respectfully refuse, responding with their own demands that the IRS obey the law as they contend it is written and as they contend it is interpreted and applied by the highest court in the land.
Many of them are stripped of their patrimonies, impoverished, and yet they still persist. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, have been imprisoned, torn from their families, professions and lives, their reputations ruined forever, permanently branded as felons and deprived of fundamental rights, yet they continue to cling to their beliefs.
Why? Why risk so much—why sacrifice everything—over so little?
Those Americans who call themselves the Tax Honesty Movement ("THM"), whether correct or incorrect, are not motivated by avarice, greed or a desire to violate the law, but rather by their dedication to the law—to a government of laws, not of men—even if acting on that dedication is at the price of their freedom and everything they own or hope to own.
Citizens in the THM have suffered indignity heaped upon injury, held up for scorn and ridicule by an angry and self-righteous government, castigated as "tax protesters", "tax defiers" and—Heaven forbid—"Constitutionalists"—Oh, my!! Their beliefs are called "frivolous", but without explanation. Their demands to be shown the law that makes them liable for the income tax have been met with either stone cold silence or ominous threats. Once identified as part of that movement, they are singled out for particularly aggressive treatment. And, yet, in the face of all that adversity and risk they stand fast.
The same story is being played out again and again across the country, so-called "tax protesters" refusing to buckle to pressure and threats, standing steadfastly by their beliefs and their demands, all the while knowing the fate that awaits them.
Why? What could possibly lead a reasonable, responsible, law-abiding citizen to stand, all alone, in the shadow of the most powerful organization in the world, like the little man in front of the tank in Tian'anmen Square, daring it to destroy him? The question must ring particularly loud when one considers that, unlike the little man in China, these men and women have seen the tank mercilessly crush many who stood there before they.
Ancient Romans witnessing the slaughter of Christians had to wonder what manner of God is so great, so powerful and so loved that His followers would readily sacrifice all rather than recant their belief and abandon their faith in Him.
Many of you have witnessed a procession of tax crime defendants gallantly and without hesitation or regret, lay down their freedom and all their worldly possessions rather than to submit to what they believe to be an unlawful exaction. What manner of country, what government of, by and for the people is so great and so loved by its citizens that they would readily sacrifice so much rather than settle for anything less than what they believe to be the rule of law?
Why? Is it the money? How does a fractional portion of their earnings, surrendered by many of them without complaint or serious injury for many years, compare with their inciting their own total and indelible ruin?
To understand their actions one must first understand their beliefs and their motives. The beliefs of those in the Tax Honesty Movement are based upon their studies of the written, black letter law and numerous holdings by the Supreme Court. After poring over the Internal Revenue Code, reading Supreme Court decisions, studying regulations and the historic evolution of the income tax, they have concluded for a number of reasons that they do not owe the federal income tax and that the IRS is disregarding both the letter and the spirit of the law.
Members of the Tax Honesty Movement are motivated by a deep and undeniable devotion to their country and its foundation upon the principles of freedom and liberty, and they are convinced that agency practices and policies, rather than laws, are governing the IRS's application of the income tax. They are equally convinced that in order to preserve that nation and those fundamental principles for posterity they must, without regard to their personal interests, insist on a government of laws, not of men. Whether correct or incorrect in their conclusions, their motivation is noble and, above all, innocent—absolutely devoid of criminal intent.
But to appreciate their innocence we have to travel their road. We have to look at the law they looked at to see how they can believe as they do. And although one may agree or disagree with the conclusions those in the THM have reached, the authors of this presentation believe that anyone who examines their reasons will understand how they drew those conclusions, right or wrong, and will respect their devotion to the rule of law and guard them as the innocent citizens they are. Lawyers, more than anyone, understand that the law presents many opportunities for disagreement, yet we rarely, if ever, consider opposing counsel as having a criminal state of mind or as intending to defeat or violate the law. Laymen are entitled to the same degree of respect for their right to disagree with another's interpretation of what is a very complex and often confusing set of laws.
Most attorneys, even those practicing in the tax field, and tax professionals have avoided delving into the Internal Revenue Code, much less into the historical aspects of taxation, thinking the subject to be obscure, convoluted and, above all, boring. Obscure and convoluted it may very well be, but once one gets underway and begins to see how the laws of taxation have a heritage, a set of underlying principles and standards, the subject actually proves to be very interesting.
The information and materials on this CD are not intended to persuade anyone to agree with the THM in its conclusions nor is it an attempt to persuade anyone to adopt those beliefs. As attorneys and tax professionals you are capable of reading and understanding the written letter of the law and the Supreme Court holdings that form the basis for those conclusions and to form your own opinion regarding their merit and import. The materials presented here are, rather, intended to provide insight into the basis for the beliefs held by the THM in hopes that the legal and tax community will come to understand that, right or wrong, those beliefs have been formed in good faith and without any criminal intent whatsoever.
We know that each of you takes your oath to support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States very seriously. A solemn oath is a serious obligation that must be kept and the eternal consequences of violating that obligation are far greater than the threat of prosecution faced by the THM.
The THM, whether correctly or incorrectly, is genuinely convinced that you have been deceived into violating that oath. On the other hand, the IRS, correctly or incorrectly, contends that by obeying and supporting its representation of the law you are keeping that oath. The only way you will ever know, however, is to ask the Constitution and the law what it has to say because if there is only one point upon which we can all agree, it is that the law says what it means and means what it says. Who, but yourself, is entitled to make the decision that will surely define eternity for you? A group of bureaucrats? A group of citizens who disagree with them? Or the law itself, the law that you have sworn to support and defend?
The THM raises a number of issues regarding the federal income tax laws. The difficult part of exploring these issues and finding the law's answers to these questions has been done for you. Most, if not all, of the statutes and Supreme Court holdings bearing on the issues and relied upon by the THM are included on this CD. All you need to do is to read the brief discussion of each issue using the links to the statutes and full text of cases to verify those authorities for yourself one way or the other.
Once you have done that then you will be able to draw your own conclusions, not because the "THM says so" and not because the "IRS says so", but because the "LAW says so". Regardless of what you conclude the law requires of us, we believe you will be able to see that the beliefs of those in the Tax Honesty Movement are not "frivolous" and are, in fact, based upon a reasonable reading and interpretation of valid and extant statutory and jurisprudential authorities. Their genuinely held, good faith beliefs would negate any intent on their part to willfully violate any law and that absence of criminal intent makes them innocent. See Cheek v. United States, 498 U.S. 192 (1991). Their innocence entitles them to our protection from both administrative retribution and criminal prosecution.
Once you have an understanding of what they truly believe and why they believe it, you will then know for yourself whether those in the THM are virtuous or villainous and you will know what you must do in order to fulfill the solemn obligation you have undertaken—what you must do to protect the innocent.
1. Why do those in the THM believe the law does not make them liable for the federal income tax and that, not being liable, the law does not require them to file income tax returns?
Having reached that conclusion, the remainder of issues here presented are, admittedly, academic. But those in the THM were not content with their conclusions regarding liability alone. The glaring absence of such a provision could not have been an oversight, particularly when it has been a constant issue for decades and Congress has made no move to correct it. Out of a compelling need to understand why such a provision was not included in the Code, they have explored other areas and issues and concluded that there are very sound reasons that the typical working American was not included among those Congress has made liable for the federal income tax.
2. Why do those in the THM believe that "income" cannot be derived from personal earnings?
3. Why does the THM believe that the income tax applies only to income derived from a very narrowly defined set of privileged activities that the Supreme Court says are "taxable" by the federal government, which does not include their laboring for a living?
4. What is the basis for the belief by those in the THM that they have a God-given, fundamental right to earn a living by their own labor and that their exercising that fundamental right is tax-exempt—that laboring for a living is not a "taxable" activity?
5. Conclusion—You be the judge.