Despite strong evidence to the contrary, many people in the United States have a belief that they are not actually required by law to file their income tax returns. In recent American history, many pacifists have refused to pay their taxes as a form of conscientious objection to the country’s war. Even in the last year, people have refused to pay taxes in protest to the actions of the current administration.
In addition to ideological differences, many people hold a misguided believe that they are not legally obligated to pay their taxes—and that doing so is voluntary. In their arguments, they cite the Constitution and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) code:
- The Fourth Amendment: Individuals claim that filing their income taxes violates their right to privacy. Courts have ruled otherwise on this issue.
- The Fifth Amendment: Individuals argue that paying taxes violates their protection against self-incrimination. Courts have ruled shot down this argument as well.
- The Sixteenth Amendment: Individuals do not acknowledge the ratification of this amendment in 1913, which sets forth Congress’s right to levy a federal income tax.
- IRS tax code: Some people falsely believe that no IRS code exists which expressly requires them to pay taxes. In addition, they hold that the IRS can only investigate or prosecute people who file their returns. IRS codes 6011(a), 6012(a) and 6072(a) disprove this theory.
Failing to file your income tax return can land you in serious trouble. Nonetheless, not everyone is required to file a return. An experienced tax preparer can help you understand whether your financial situation requires you to file.