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January 30, 2001
The Honorable Paul Henry O'Neill
Department of Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20220
Dear Secretary O'Neill:
 Enclosed, please find a letter from one of my constituents, Mr. Roger
Cole. Mr. Cole is asking for information regarding statutory authority requiring
the payment of taxes. I would appreciate any information you could send regarding
Mr. Cole's inquiry.
 Thank you for your assistance in this matter.
Member of Congress
Congress of the United States
* * * * *
January 8, 2001
137 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Mr. Camp,
 I have attached hereto two letters sent by your colleges, [sic] John Ensign
of Nevada and Dan Burton of Indiana. Congressman Ensign states that he "cannot
point to a specific place in the law where it says you must pay income taxes." Is
he correct? If he is wrong and there is a specific statute that "requires" people "to
pay" income taxes, I would appreciate your identifying it for me, since
I can not find it either -- though I have found numerous statutes that specifically
require the payment of numerous other federal taxes.
 The CRS Report referred to in his letter is patently ludicrous. It pretends
that those asking where in the Code an income tax "liability" is
established are raising "magic words." However, the Privacy Act Notice
in a 1040 booklet specifically states you need only "file a return or
statement with us for any tax your are liable for." So if there is no
law that makes one "liable" for income taxes, the Government officially
notifies you that you are not required to file (or pay) income taxes. 1 So
why would the specific issue of liability be resorting to "magic words"?
And while the CRS Report mentions Code Sections 1 and 63, these sections are
not mentioned in that Privacy Act Notice. Obviously, if these Code sections
were relevant to the payment of income taxes, they would be mentioned there.
And while Section 6012 is mentioned in the Privacy Act Notice, there is nothing
in that statute that says anything about "paying" an income tax or
establishing such a tax "liability."
 Congressman Burton's letter states that "the word 'liable' or the
terminology 'liability for income tax' is not included in any section of the
Internal Revenue Code." Do you concur in his assessment? Given, therefore,
Congressman Ensign claim that no specific law requires anyone "to pay" income
taxes; Congressman Burton's claim that no law makes anyone "liable" for
an income tax; and the Government's claim (as contained in the Privacy Act
Notice of a 1040) that one need only file (and pay) a tax for which one is "liable" --
wouldn't these all add up to the fact that no one is required to pay income
 Please tell me if you agree with Congressmen Ensign's and Burton's assessment
of the situation. If they are wrong could you identify for me the Code Sections
that specifically make me "liable" for income taxes and requires
me to pay that tax. 2 Thank you in advance for your reply.
Roger W.E. Cole, Sr.
1 There are, of course, numerous provisions in the Code establishing "liabilities" for
other Federal taxes.
2 In response, please do not, like Congressman Burton, refer me to the 16th
Amendment. That is merely an enabling statute and does not impose any legal
obligations upon me to do anything. And please (as did both Congressman Burton
and Ensign) do not refer me to the CRS Report. I have already given you three
examples of the ludicrous claims made in that Report.
END OF FOOTNOTES
* * * * *
August 24, 1998
 Thank you for contacting me regarding the "voluntary" nature
of the federal income tax. I am happy to respond.
 As a result of a number of constituent requests and questions regarding
the "voluntary" nature of our Internal Revenue Code (IRC) and questions
regarding taxpayer "Liability", I have attempted to get some answers
to these questions. You will not be surprised to learn that answers to these
questions, I have discovered, are somewhat complex and are reflective of the
overall complexity that our system of taxation offers. With a background in
veterinary medicine, and not law, I must rely on congressional experts and
resources to address your valid questions.
 Let me start by saying I cannot point to a specific place in the law where
it says you must pay income taxes. However, as is pointed out below, the courts
have determined they feel the laws on the books require you to pay income taxes.
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has offered the following explanation:
"We do not have a voluntary tax system in the sense that payment of taxes
is optional. There are specific provisions of law which require the payment
of income taxes. There are civil and criminal penalties for failing to pay
these taxes or file the required returns. The phrase 'voluntary tax system'
is commonly used in discussion of our tax compliance system. The United States
does have a system of collecting taxes that depends to a certain extent upon
voluntary compliance. Although this country does have withholding on certain
types of income, much of the income tax revenues comes from tax on other sources
of income (such as interest, dividends, self-employment, etc.) where the individual
must supply the information for the system to function efficiently. Supplying
this information is not voluntary in the meaning of "optional."
 Another explanation revolves around the use of the word "liable." CRS
has attempted to explain this as well:
"Frequently, the contention is made that the income tax statute does
not use the magic words "individual is made liable," therefore, an
individual is not liable for income taxes. The federal courts have characterized
these defenses as "arrogant sophistries" and "blatant nonsense." The
federal income tax is imposed on the taxable income of every individual (IRC1).
Taxable income is defined in IRS 63. Every individual whose gross income exceeds
specified amounts is required to file an income tax return under IRC 6012.
These sections, working together with many others, make an individual liable
for income taxes."
 I know these explanations will probably not give you a direct answer
to your questions. You'll have to make your own decision about what to do with
John E. Ensign
Member of Congress
Congress of the United States
* * * * *
December 11, 1997
Dear Mr. * * *
 Thank you for contacting me regarding the Federal Income Tax. I appreciate
hearing from you on this important issue.
 You are correct in your assertion that the word "liable" or
the terminology "liability for income taxes" is not included in any
section of the Internal Revenue Code. However, the Sixteenth Amendment to the
United States Constitution provides that: "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
 For your information, I have enclosed a copy of a Congressional Research
Service publication entitled "Frequently Asked Questions concerning the
Federal Income Tax." I believe that this carefully researched report will
answer your question more fully, and any others you may have as well.
 The recent Senate hearings highlighted some of the most egregious examples
of problems with the current IRS structure and management. I strongly believe
that Congress has a responsibility to protect taxpayers from an overzealous
IRS. As you may know, on November 5, 1997, the house of representatives passed
the IRS restructuring and Reform Act (H.R. 2676) with my strong support. H.R.
2676 would shift the burden of proof in tax liability proceedings from the
taxpayer back to the IRS; it establishes an oversight board to review and report
on the IRS to Congress and the President on an annual basis; and it overhauls
the management, administration, and oversight structure of the IRS. The Senate
will hopefully consider H.R. 2676 in the very near future.
 In addition, several bills have been introduced this year to reform the
IRS and to simplify our tax system that I believe are worth serious consideration.
These include H.R. 1040, introduced on March 12, 1997, by Congressman Dick
Armey of Texas, to replace the current tax system with a 17% flat tax, H.R.
1325, introduced on April 15, 1997, by Congressman Dan Schaefer of Colorado,
to repeal the income tax and enact a National retail sales tax to be administered
primarily by the States; the Tax Code Termination Act (H.R. 2490) introduced
on September 17, 1997, by Congressman Steve Largent of Oklahoma, to sunset
the existing Internal Revenue Code as of December 31, 2001; H.R. 2483 introduced
on September 16, 1997, by Congressman Bill Paxon of New York, to sunset the
Internal Revenue Code effective December 31, 2000; and the Tax Freedom Bill
(H.J. Res. 70), introduced on April 10, 1997, by Congressman Sam Johnson of
Texas, to repeal the IRS.
 Rather than continue with such a complex income tax system, I believe
enacting a flat tax or a National sales tax could provide several advantages
over the current system. A National sales tax would encourage saving and investing
because only consumption would be taxed. Compliance would be far-easier for
individual taxpayers, and they would no longer have to fear being harassed
by an ovrzealous IRS.
 Once again, thank you for contacting me. If I can be of any further assistance
to you in the future, please don't hesitate to write or call.
Your Member of Congress
Congress of the United States
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