The Sixteenth Amendment
By: Bill E. Branscum
Copyright 2001

The argument comes in various forms, but the essence is that the Sixteenth Amendment was never properly ratified. Therefore, these tax "experts" claim, the federal income tax system is unconstitutional.

There is no use examining all the various arguments, but in the most common one, tax protesters claim that Ohio was not a state admitted into the Union until 1953. Since Ohio was not yet a state, President Taft as a citizen of Ohio, was ineligible to serve as President. Therefore, Taft was not able to properly convene the Congress which approved the resolution which later become the Sixteenth Amendment. Furthermore, President Taft could not lawfully appoint Secretary of State Philander C. Knox, who verified that the Sixteenth Amendment was properly ratified.

You could find any number of statements on the Internet, including the IRS web site, addressing this issue but that would be a bit like asking Dad if he had the authority to withhold allowance. These issues are easily researched.

The Sixteenth Amendment was initially ratified by 40 states out of 48 (3/4th's is the required majority) and adopted in 1913. The truth is, the ratification served only to nullify an 1895 tax case that challenged the government's plenary taxing authority. In 1895 (Pollock v. Farmers' Loan & Trust Co.), the Supreme Court struck down an 1894 income tax on the ground that it was a direct tax required, under Article I of the Constitution, to be apportioned among the states on the basis of population. The Sixteenth Amendment merely exempted taxes on income from the apportionment requirement.

If your Client remains convinced that all that money he spent with Global Prosperity, or whomever else, was not a waste, refer them to Brushaber v. Union Pacific Railroad Co., 240 U.S. 1 (1916). In that case, the Supreme Court said:

"The Sixteenth Amendment was obviously intended to simplify the situation and make clear the limitations on the taxing power of Congress and not to create radical and destructive changes in our constitutional system.

The Sixteenth Amendment does not purport to confer power to levy income taxes in a generic sense, as that authority was already possessed, or to limit and distinguish between one kind of income tax and another; but its purpose is to relieve all income taxes when imposed from apportionment from consideration of the source whence the income is derived.

The Income Tax provisions of the Tariff Act of 1913 are not unconstitutional by reason of retroactive operation, the period covered not extending prior to the time when the Amendment was operative; nor are those provisions unconstitutional under the due process provision of the Fifth Amendment; nor do they deny due process of law, nor equal protection of the law by reason of the classifications therein of things of persons subject to the tax."

That should have been clear enough but the issue has been reviewed many times. If your Client continues to doubt, refer them to:

Knoblauch v. Commissioner, 749 F2d, 200, 201 (5th Cir. 1984), cert. denied, 474 U.S. 830 (1986) in which the court described the argument that the 16th Amendment was not properly ratified as being "totally without merit."

United States v. Foster, 789 F.2d 457 (7th Cir.), cert denied, 479 U.S. 883 (1986) in which the Court affirmed Foster's conviction for tax evasion, rejecting his claim that the Sixteenth Amendment was never ratified.

United States v. Stahl, 792 F.2d 1438, 1441 (9th Cir. 1986), cert denied 479 U.S. 1036 (1987) in which the Court states: " . . . that the sixteenth amendment has been ratified . . . is conclusive upon the Courts" and upheld Stahl's conviction for failure to file and making a false statement.

Miller v. United States, 868 F2d 236, 241 (7th Cir. 1989) (per curiam) in which the Court said, "We find it hard to understand why the long and unbroken line of cases upholding the Constitutionality of the Sixteenth Amendment . . . have not persuaded Miller and his compatriots to seek a more effective forum for airing their attack on the federal income tax structure." The Court labeled their position "patently frivolous" and levied sanctions against them.

I suppose people will go right on paying that Benson clown to show up at trial and argue the premise of his book, The Law That Never Was. It seems to me that Benson should be telling people what has happened to his Clients each and every time he did that, and just exactly how many times he has heard a judge describe his spiel as frivolous.

I welcome your comments, questions and suggestions.

© Copyright 2002 - Bill E. Branscum. All Rights Reserved.