Ron Paul supports the elimination of the income tax and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). He asserts that Congress had no power to impose a direct income tax and has introduced legislation to repeal of the 16th Amendment to the Constitution, which was ratified on February 3, 1913.
An income tax is the most degrading and totalitarian of all possible taxes. Its implementation wrongly suggests that the government owns the lives and labor of the citizens it is supposed to represent. Tellingly, “a heavy progressive or graduated income tax” is Plank #2 of the Communist Manifesto, which was written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels and first published in 1848.
To provide funding for the federal government, Ron Paul supports excise taxes, non-protectionist tariffs, massive cuts in spending.
Ron Paul discusses the income tax and the “FAIR Tax” in May 2007:
On November 20, 2008 Ron Paul said in a New York Times / Freakonomics interview:
“I want to abolish the income tax, but I don’t want to replace it with anything. About 45 percent of all federal revenue comes from the personal income tax. That means that about 55 percent — over half of all revenue — comes from other sources, like excise taxes, fees, and corporate taxes.
We could eliminate the income tax, replace it with nothing, and still fund the same level of big government we had in the late 1990s. We don’t need to “replace” the income tax at all. I see a consumption tax as being a little better than the personal income tax, and I would vote for the Fair-Tax if it came up in the House of Representatives, but it is not my goal. We can do better.”
On May 7, 2001, Ron Paul wrote the following column:
The Case Against the Income Tax
Could America exist without an income tax? The idea seems radical, yet in truth America did just fine without a federal income tax for the first 126 years of its history. Prior to 1913, the government operated with revenues raised through tariffs, excise taxes, and property taxes, without ever touching a worker’s paycheck. In the late 1800s, when Congress first attempted to impose an income tax, the notion of taxing a citizen’s hard work was considered radical! Public outcry ensued; more importantly, the Supreme Court ruled the income tax unconstitutional. Only with passage of the 16th Amendment did Congress gain the ability to tax the productive endeavors of its citizens.
Yet don’t we need an income tax to fund the important functions of the federal government? You may be surprised to know that the income tax accounts for only approximately one-third of federal revenue. Only 10 years ago, the federal budget was roughly one-third less than it is today. Surely we could find ways to cut spending back to 1990 levels, especially when the Treasury has single year tax surpluses for the past several years. So perhaps the idea of an America without an income tax is not so radical after all.
The harmful effects of the income tax are obvious. First and foremost, it has enabled government to expand far beyond its proper constitutional limits, regulating virtually every aspect of our lives. It has given government a claim on our lives and work, destroying our privacy in the process. It takes billions of dollars out of the legitimate private economy, with most Americans giving more than a third of everything they make to the federal government. This economic drain destroys jobs and penalizes productive behavior. The ridiculous complexity of the tax laws makes compliance a nightmare for both individuals and businesses. All things considered, our Founders would be dismayed by the income tax mess and the tragic loss of liberty which results.
America without an income tax would be far more prosperous and far more free, but we must be prepared to fight to regain the liberty we have lost incrementally over the past century. I recently introduced “The Liberty Amendment,” legislation which would repeal the 16th Amendment and effectively abolish the income tax. I truly believe that real tax reform, reform that so many frustrated Americans desperately want, requires bold legislation that challenges the Washington mind set. Congress talks about reform, but the current tax debate really involves nothing of substance. Both parties are content to continue tinkering with the edges of the tax code to please various special interests. The Liberty Amendment is an attempt to eliminate the system altogether, forcing Congress to find a simple and fair way to collect limited federal revenues. Most of all, the Liberty Amendment is an initiative aimed at reducing the size and scope of the federal government.
Is it impossible to end the income tax? I don’t believe so. In fact, I believe a serious groundswell movement of disaffected taxpayers is growing in this country. Millions of Americans are fed up with the current tax system, and they will bring pressure on Congress. Some sidestep Congress completely, bringing legal challenges questioning the validity of the tax code and the 16th Amendment itself. Ultimately, the Liberty Amendment could serve as a flashpoint for these millions of voices.
Ron Paul introduced the Liberty Amendment in 1998, 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009. It is currently know as H. J. RES. 48 and has 2 cosponsors, Roscoe G. Bartlett (MD-6) and Don Young (AK). Here is the text of the proposed amendment:
Section 1. The Government of the United States shall not engage in any business, professional, commercial, financial, or industrial enterprise except as specified in the Constitution.
Section 2. The constitution or laws of any State, or the laws of the United States, shall not be subject to the terms of any foreign or domestic agreement which would abrogate this amendment.
Section 3. The activities of the United States Government which violate the intent and purposes of this amendment shall, within a period of three years from the date of the ratification of this amendment, be liquidated and the properties and facilities affected shall be sold.
Section 4. Three years after the ratification of this amendment the sixteenth article of amendments to the Constitution of the United States shall stand repealed and thereafter Congress shall not levy taxes on personal incomes, estates, and gifts.’.
On April 30, 2009 Ron Paul introduced the Liberty Amendment with the following speech:
Ron Paul: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to introduce the Liberty Amendment, which repeals the 16th Amendment, thus paving the way for real change in the way government collects and spends the people’s hard-earned money. The Liberty Amendment also explicitly forbids the Federal government from performing any action not explicitly authorized by the United States Constitution.
The 16th Amendment gives the Federal government a direct claim on the lives of American citizens by enabling Congress to levy a direct income tax on individuals. Until the passage of the 16th amendment, the Supreme Court had consistently held that Congress had no power to impose an income tax.
Income taxes are responsible for the transformation of the Federal government from one of limited powers into a vast leviathan whose tentacles reach into almost every aspect of American life. Thanks to the income tax, today the Federal government routinely invades our privacy, and penalizes our every endeavor.
The Founding Fathers realized that “the power to tax is the power to destroy,” which is why they did not give the Federal government the power to impose an income tax. Needless to say, the Founders would be horrified to know that Americans today give more than a third of their income to the Federal government.
Income taxes not only diminish liberty, they retard economic growth by discouraging work and production. Our current tax system also forces Americans to waste valuable time and money on compliance with an ever-more complex tax code. The increased interest in flat-tax and national sales tax proposals, as well as the increasing number of small businesses that question the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) “withholding” system provides further proof that America is tired of the labyrinthine tax code. Americans are also increasingly fed up with an IRS that continues to ride roughshod over their civil liberties, despite recent “pro-taxpayer” reforms.
Madam Speaker, America survived and prospered for 140 years without an income tax, and with a Federal government that generally adhered to strictly constitutional functions, operating with modest excise revenues. The income tax opened the door to the era (and errors) of Big Government. I hope my colleagues will help close that door by cosponsoring the Liberty Amendment.