Since the time of Benjamin Franklin, Americans have done their best to disprove his famous statement, "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." While we here at Cracked have been at the forefront of disproving the former, we've been a little less helpful about the latter.
We're not talking about free-riding fatcats, but rather those true heroes who valiantly argue that the vast majority of Americans should be paying no income tax at all. And while their success rate has so far been zero (unless we're counting those not paying taxes because they're in prison), we'd like to salute the visionaries and the bat-shit insane legal arguments which they truly believe will make a judge say, "You know what? You got us! Shut it all down!"
Let's say, for the sake of argument, that you are Lea Viglione, and you've logically determined that the attractive shouldn't have to pay taxes. After a few years of non-filing you receive an envelope with a return address of IRS, Department of You Are So Fucked, Washington, D.C., addressed to ATTN: LEA VIGLIONE. Now, if your first reaction is "Uh oh, game over!" well, just get out your checkbook, quitter. If, however, your reaction is, "Hmm... I wonder who this LEA VIGLIONE is, as my name is clearly Lea Viglione," then you're on your way to an insanely awesome legal argument!
"You can't tax someone who isn't wearing a shirt....Right?"
Amazingly enough, numerous people have argued that JOHN DOE is an entirely different entity from John Doe. In case you're wondering why the same rule-of-thumb that helps you ignore retarded message board posters would also help them avoid taxes, their delusion seems to be that there is no right to collect taxes from individuals, so the government creates "straw men," indicated by capitalized "fraudulent legalistic names" on tax forms and court documents, that it can tax as businesses or other taxable entities; shockingly, most of us brainwashed fools pay these straw men's tax bills.
When the IRS presses this button, you get a 100% tax refund!
Similarly, people have ignored correspondence without their preferred, unorthodox punctuation as being addressed to the wrong person, as Walter Edward, Kostich, Jr. did with any correspondence omitting that extra comma. And when all of that fails, just do what Michigan resident Lynn Ealy did: he "notified the IRS that his name had been copyrighted and that if the IRS used his name for any purpose, the IRS would be subject to a $500,000 fee."
Even simpler, you can admit that the IRS Code gives them the right to collect taxes from "persons," but you just so happen to not be a person. The Sovereignty Education and Defense Ministry--highly recommended for those who want a dash of Jesus with their tax evasion--quotes a sample U.S. legal statute that states "The word 'person' includes individuals, children, firms, associations..." and concludes "NOTE HOWEVER, THE DEFINITIONS STATUTE DOES NOT LIST MAN OR WOMAN -- THEREFORE THEY ARE EXCLUDED FROM ALL THE STATUTES!!!" [Page 67]
"The form doesn't specifically mention temps. It's the perfect crime."
Of course, we can probably ignore this as it's in capital letters, but perhaps the multiple exclamation points cancel that out. This line of argument has had the exact same success rate (zero) as similarly limiting definitions of the terms "individual" and "taxpayer."
U.S. citizens are liable for income taxes. Pretty straightforward, right? So let's just move on to the next argument...
You didn't think it was really going to be that easy, did you? In fact, the first three words of that statement have triggered dozens of legal arguments. Like most people, you would probably assume that a person (sorry: "person") born in the U.S., who has lived in the U.S. their whole life and who has never been outside the U.S., even for a Tijuana donkey show, could safely be considered a U.S. citizen. How wrong you would be.
First, you could simply renounce your U.S. citizenship... without ever leaving home! How? Simply declare yourself a "sovereign citizen" of your individual state, like current prison inmate Richard Simkanin did when he repatriated himself to the "Republic of Texas." You can't be a citizen of two places at the same time, can you? (Answer: yes.) OK, we expect this sort of thing from Texans, but others have declared themselves "Free Citizens of the Republic of Minnesota" and "citizens of the Maryland Republic petitioners [who] are exempt from the Federal income tax law."
"We're sovereign! But, uh, yes, can we still have use of America's army and other benefits?"
Or, you can do what Dr. Louis Genard did: declare yourself an "Ambassador and Citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven under its King Jesus the Christ" and apply for diplomatic immunity. You'll still have to pay taxes, but maybe as an Ambassador they'll let you park right outside the prison.
Or you can agree that United States citizens have to pay income taxes, but Texas (or Minnesota or Maryland) isn't actually a state. Yep. You see, the tax code declares: "The term 'State' includes the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa." While this is obviously there to get that... Guammian? Guammite? tax revenue, a whole bunch of people have argued that the "United States" does not include the 50 states, only the specifically named locations. This has worked about as well as you'd imagine, since the IRS "uses a more conventional definition of the United States." Well, they would, the bastards.
Count the states. WARNING: Trick question.
Like the "Missing Persons" argument above (and a whole bunch of others), this one relies on a definition of "includes" that differs from dictionaries, the Internal Revenue Code itself (which says "includes" doesn't "exclude other things otherwise within the meaning of the term defined") and the Supreme Court. This has not been a successful strategy so far.