Legality of Refusing to Pay Income Tax

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Is It Legal to Refuse to Pay Income Tax?

The government’s power to tax is laid out in Article I of the Constitution, which states, "Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes." Refusing to pay income tax is called tax evasion, which is a felony crime. The Internal Revenue Code (IRC) section 7201 imposes a fine of up to $100,000 or 5 years in prison.

The History of Taxation in the U.S.

From the inception of the United States until WWI, tariffs on imported goods were the main form of tax. Other taxes included property tax, poll tax (tax per person such as a fee for voting), and excise taxes (alcohol, tobacco, estate tax, etc.). Article I of the Constitution grants the government the power to collect all forms of tax provided that they are "necessary and proper" and in alignment with the will of the people through the democratic process. Because of this broad power, Congress can implement many different kinds of taxes including income tax.

Disputing Your Tax Bill

If you have grounds to believe that you are being asked to pay the wrong amount in taxes then there are a number of options you can use to work out a dispute over your taxes.

Notice of Deficiency

If you do not pay your entire tax bill, you will receive a notice of deficiency. Once you have received a notice of deficiency from the IRS, then you can either pay the deficiency or contest it in Tax Court.

Do I Need to Hire an Attorney?

If you did not pay your taxes or intend to contest a notice of deficiency, you will likely need to hire an attorney to represent you in your dispute against the IRS.

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Last Modified: 05-21-2014 12:23 PM PDT

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