Today is April 15th – Tax Day. Have you finished your taxes? My husband finished our taxes and put the check in the mail yesterday. Hopefully, we can forget about taxes for another year! We all hate to pay taxes and try to pay as little as possible, but we are far from the first Americans to do so.
Forced to pay federal income taxes since the Sixteenth Amendment was ratified on February 3, 1913, Americans have been fighting taxes for much longer. Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty, dressed as Indians, boarded three ships in the Boston harbor on the night of December 16, 1773; they threw 342 chests of tea overboard in a political protest against taxes. This act – known as the Boston Tea Party - of course brought punitive action in the form of another regulation in 1774 from Great Britain and brought the two sides closer to war. The war started on April 19, 1775, when the first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts. April 19th is now known as Patriots’ Day.
All Americans from regular citizens to Presidents and former Presidents have fought against taxes. Former President James Madison stated in 1823, “The people of the U.S. owe their Independence & their liberty, to the wisdom of descrying in the minute tax of 3 pence on tea, the magnitude of the evil comprized in the precedent. Let them exert the same wisdom, in watching agst every evil lurking under plausible disguises, and growing up from small beginnings.” (Spelling and punctuation are as in original.) In other words, Americans were not saddled with greater taxes because they fought against the small ones.
In 1963 President John F. Kennedy, a Democrat, sent a message to Congress that included this statement: “Our tax system still siphons out of the private economy too large a share of personal and business purchasing power and reduces the incentive for risk, investment and effort – thereby aborting our recoveries and stifling our national growth rate.”
President Kennedy spoke about his tax reduction bill in a 1963 radio and television address to the nation and stated: “A tax cut means higher family income and higher business profits and a balanced federal budget. Every tax payer and his family will have more money left over after taxes for a new car, a new home, new conveniences, education and investment. Every businessman can keep a higher percentage of his profits in his cash register or put it to work expanding or improving his business, and as the national income grows, the federal government will ultimately end up with more revenues.” (Source: Last Line of Defense by Ken Cuccinelli, p. 243, February 12, 2013)
Mark Alexander at the Patriot Post published an article about taxes in which he wrote: “It is no small irony that in the same week we observe Patriots; Day – the opening salvos at Lexington and Concord to establish American liberty – working Americans also endure the April 15th deadline to forcibly surrender a growing portion of our earned income to a gravely bloated central government, which redistributes much of that income to ensure public support for its malignant growth.
“Excessive and unjust taxation led to the first American Revolution, and our government today appears heedless of that history as it seizes income for purposes clearly not authorized by our Constitution. Much of that income is redistributed to Democratic constituents in return for their political allegiance that, in turn, drives more growth and redistribution. This cycle is perilous to Liberty.
“This year, American Patriots had to work, on average, the first 114 days of 2015 to cover their federal, state and local tax burdens. Of course, that doesn’t include the additional days of work required to pay the hidden regulatory tax – the cost of regulations built into consumer products and services – which adds about another 30 days of labor.”
Alexander wrote some of the history of taxes in the United States before writing: “However, the most devastating insult to economic Liberty was dealt by the father of American socialism, Woodrow Wilson, who was elected due to his mastery of classist rhetoric as outlined by Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto in 1848. Wilson used that rhetoric to gain rapid passage of the Sixteenth Amendment in 1913, which specified, `The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.’
“`From whatever source derived’ indeed.
“The top tax rate levied under the new Amendment was 7 percent on incomes above $500,000 (about $13 million in 2014 dollars), but today, almost every individual with an income of $25,000 or more (less than $1,000 in 1914 dollars) is taxed. If Wilson had attempted to impose his tax on incomes of $1,000, a second American Revolution would have commenced immediately. But, like most usurpations of Liberty, the income tax levy has avoided insurrection by incremental imposition on ever-broader income groups over the last century.
“As Madison warned, `I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpations.’
“The Sixteenth Amendment has been used to enact unequal and discriminatory taxation of targeted groups of income classes -- `progressive’ taxation as it is known, which resulted in classism and the bulwark of all socialist movements, `class warfare.’ It opened the floodgates for populist executives and legislators to enact taxes for expenditures not expressly authorized by our Constitution, and thus brought about the end of limited government under Rule of Law in favor of the rule of men….”
Experience teaches us that Benjamin Franklin was correct when he stated, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” We can be fairly certain that we will be taxed until the day we die – and then our estates could still be taxed. We must elect leaders – local and national – who will recognize the great public trust and use tax money wisely and fairly. As Alexander wrote, the power to tax Americans may be the greatest threat to our freedom!