On April 13, 1999, one day before I’d turn twenty-nine-years-old, the following letter was emailed to then sitting Senator, William V. Roth, Jr. of Delaware. It also went out to various newspapers and periodicals.
Senator William V. Roth, Jr.
104 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
Dear Senator Roth,
I recently finished reading your book, The Power to Destroy – How the IRS Became America’s Most Powerful Agency, How Congress is Taking Control, and What You Can Do to Protect Yourself Under the New Law. I would like to thank you for having the courage to go through with your investigation into the Internal Revenue Service as well as to continue working for tax relief. It gives me great pleasure to see people in government at least trying to make an effort to stand up for the little guy. However, despite your accomplishments so far, I do believe that we, the American people, remain in great danger. I am certain that despite your work, the congressional hearings and the supposed “IRS Reform”, the Internal Revenue Service and the pursuit of tax collecting will not change. There is a very good reason to remain convinced that the IRS will continue with business as usual.
With a federal government costing almost two trillion dollars a year, as well as the fact that few Americans would voluntarily send their money to Washington to keep paying for it, the only way to continue funding it is to have a ruthless, vicious and unjust tax collection agency. As long as the federal government remains as large as it is, the federal government will need it’s bully to shake us apart from our wallets.
In poll after poll the American people report that they believe the federal government is too big and intrusive. With disapproval ratings as high as they are, its no wonder taxpayers regret when it’s time to send their money off to Washington at the beginning of each year. Since the majority of Americans dislike the size of our federal government, it is no surprise to find that the only way to ensure compliance with the income tax is to be as ruthless as possible.
Every person I have talked to regarding the issue of taxes report that they would not mind paying their share of taxes if the money was going to good use. (Everyone, of course, has his or her own opinions on what qualifies as “good use”). But these people understand that they have no say in what happens to their money once it reaches Washington. They know that they will be forced to hand over now almost 50% of their income, at the ruthless hand of the Internal Revenue Service, whether or not they support government’s choices in spending.
The heart of the matter really comes down to who is entitled to the fruits of one’s labor. The person who worked and earned it or a government agency bent on wealth redistribution? Also, who is more qualified to spend that money responsibly, the earner or a government? I believe that only those who earn the wealth should decide how to spend it or give it away. This is not only my position but that of the Libertarian Party of which I am a proud member. Throughout your book, you maintain that people should not be forcefully separated from their earnings but you also look favorably on a non-Constitutional government with numerous special programs in education, travel, alcohol abuse, unwed mothers, etc. Senator Roth, we can not have it both ways. Either the people can have their earnings to spend or give away as only they see fit, or they can not.
Besides the cases of IRS abuse, what I found especially disturbing in your book was the last chapter entitled, “Protect Yourself”. Part of your advice on page 251 says that, in order to be on the safe side, you should keep your records neat, readily available (to the government) and conduct your financial affairs in such a way as to expect an audit. I must ask Senator, why should supposedly free people living in a free country have to organize their affairs for government ease of use? Free people in a free society should not only keep all the fruits of their labor but also keep them and their records in any manner or fashion they choose without worrying about prying government agencies.
I do not believe that any “IRS Reform” or otherwise will get us out of this mess. As I already said, the IRS must and will remain ruthless if it is to continue obtaining funds for the many federal projects underway. The federal government now has so many special programs, subsidies and other non-Constitutional functions that Congress is responsible for pushing the IRS to be “more aggressive” (as you also seem to agree based on your writing on page 209). Thus, there is only one way out of the problem. There is only one way to completely ensure that all Americans are protected. We must adopt the Libertarian Party’s position on the matter. Abolish the Income Tax, repeal the 16th Amendment to the Constitution and put an end to the Internal Revenue Service. Of course, this also means ending every federal program and project not authorized by the Constitution. Then and only then, will the American people truly be free from the abuse of the Internal Revenue Service and other government agencies that would take advantage of them. As you point out in the book’s chapter entitled, “Congressional Accountability”, it is Congress that has the power to tax. Thus, I say we must remember that Congress also has the power not to tax (or at least reduce taxes to a conscionable level). Inevitably Senator, it’s up to you and your colleagues.
Thank you for your time, Senator Roth, in addressing this letter. I encourage you to continue your work but I also ask that you take it the next step. I urge you and the rest of the Legislative, Executive and Judicial Branches to end this ancient practice of taxation and to begin seriously considering the Libertarian perspective.
Yours in liberty,
P.S. There are alternative ways to fund the federal government without taxation. Some Libertarian proposals have been as simple as holding a national lottery where the money earned would be obtained voluntarily. Another way is by selling off the non-Constitutional assets now in the possession of federal government, investing that money, and funding all the Constitutional functions of government on the interest alone. I believe the present tariffs and excise taxes could pay for a limited Constitutional government as well.
The only thing I would change about this letter, if written today, would be the removal of all those horrid adverbs, bland verbs and some quirky sentence structures. Otherwise, I’d say it all the same and note that here we are, years later, and my predictions came true. In light of recent events; that is, of the IRS targeting Tea Parties, Constitutional groups, etc, nothing has changed in the fourteen-years separating my communication with Senator Roth. And while not the type that likes to say, “Told Ya So”, well, I Told Ya So.
Back in 1999, the federal budget was about two-trillion-dollars. The IRS needed to be diligent to wring out the taxpayer to meet that budget. Now, in 2013, we’re at almost four-trillion-dollars. We’ve seen the movies, read the books. When the debt of our hero grows, the brow moistens, the pulse races. Irrational decisions get made, people get hurt. And, if our protagonist has any henchmen, they get deployed. When the King and Queen want projects, the serfs get a ransacking.
Going after Tea Party and Constitution-Thumping groups does seem reasonable. After all, we’re the ones making the most complaints. We’re the ones looking to reduce our burden. We’re the ones not hiding exactly how we feel. And those of us in the Libertarian Party are the ones wanting to abolish the 16th Amendment outright. Who better to target than those of us wishing to see an end to the castle walls?
I’ve often wondered if the FBI, CIA or other intelligence agency ever prepared a dossier on me. In bouts of self-delusional grandeur, I consider submitting a Freedom of Information Request. But the rational side keeps interrupting, figuring, if they don’t have one on me, they will after receiving my FOIA request.The agency might be curious about what I think they know, but don’t know, but now should know. In other words, I may be the one who brings the unwanted attention in the first place. Here’s the lesson: Advertising one’s position can draw intent scrutiny from the very creature the advertiser wishes not to engage with.
This is not, in any way, to excuse the behavior of those within (or without) the IRS who chose the targets. No, if it is found that this was politically motivated, then those responsible should be fired, perhaps tried before the public and held accountable. However, even if this takes place, nothing is going to change about the IRS.
As my Open Letter to Senator Roth explained, no one willingly pays taxes. Let me be a little more specific. No one willingly pays exactly what they owe. Those who think the government a good nanny are more than willing to hand over their earnings in the name of public goods and perceived benefits. However, even they still cheat. The very same individuals who cry, “Who will build the roads?” or “Who will put out the fire on my neighbor’s home?” cheat and fib on their tax returns to reduce their burden. The IRS has to be vicious. It has to be ruthless. And it’s going to target whoever is the most likely to be hiding assets. Right now, those the most vocal against taxation are getting the attention.
“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it.” – Thomas Paine, THE CRISIS.
Mr. Paine was referring to the Battle of Brandywine which took place, of all days, September 11th. That is, in 1777. He was calling upon his fellow Americans to support the rebellion against the British. It wasn’t going to be easy. And the engagement could cost any participant their lives. But if the result was success? Oh the benefits would be worth it. The same can be said about today’s engagement with taxation. If we targeted groups go silent, we’ll lose. And we’ll find, perhaps, a six-trillion budget in ten more years. Or, we can remain vigilant, calling spades, spades. Calling out abuses. Calling for the abolition of slavery. Engaging with the enemy for the sake of our futures is a worthy cause even if the IRS likes to look at our books more closely.
So now that it’s out that we’re targets, what will happen? Undoubtedly, congressional hearings will ensue. Chiefs and sacrificial Indians will be called to testify. And “reforms” will be suggested. But don’t think anything will change any more than when Senator Roth held his hearings and called for reforms in the 1990s. As long as the federal budget remains as large as it is, the federal government will need it’s henchmen to commit shake downs and collect.
In 1999, my solution was to reduce the federal government to it’s Constitutional limits. With this solution, there’d be no need for an Income Tax or so many other taxes enacted since the Constitution was implemented. This would end the IRS. This would euthanize the government’s pitbull.
And in case you’re wondering, Senator Roth never did reply to my letter. He passed away on December 13, 2001. So there’s no chance I’ll ever know if he received it, read it or gave it more attention than I ever thought it deserved. But I still remain vocal against excessive taxation. And await my audit…with receipts.