WASHINGTON -- Think you can get away with not paying income taxes? The Internal Revenue Service says you better think again.
In a 25-page legal summary, the IRS attempts to debunk many of the most common legal arguments against paying taxes or filing returns. Some of these schemes are marketed by promoters for a fee, but taxpayers who sign up could be left holding the bag.
"Some enrich themselves at the expense of their followers, who find they have no legal ground to stand on when they follow this bad advice," an IRS statement says.
Federal courts can impose a penalty of up to $25,000 if a taxpayer's argument is deemed frivolous.
The summary, "The Truth About Frivolous Tax Arguments," is available on the IRS Web site (http://www.irs.gov).
- Paying taxes and filing a return is not purely voluntary, even though taxpayers are permitted to determine their own tax and fill out the IRS forms.
- The 16th Amendment to the Constitution, which instituted the income tax, was properly ratified by the states. The income tax is not a government "taking" of property without due process of law.
- Definitions of such basic terms as "taxpayer," "United States," "person," or "employee" cannot be manipulated in ways that exempt someone from paying taxes.
- Income means what it appears to mean. Some people have tried and failed to assert that wages, tips and other compensation are not income, that income refers only to money from a foreign source and even that Federal Reserve notes are not actually currency.
- Beware of packages or trusts involving some or all of these arguments that purport to remove individuals from the federal tax system. Steep penalties and interest can apply.
The IRS is concentrating its tax compliance resources on these tax avoidance schemes, says Commissioner Charles Rossotti.
"It may take us a while, we may have less resources than we had, but we're really focusing on the people who are abusing the system," he said. "They're going to be sorry, because we're getting to them."