the Income Tax a Form of Slavery?
Steven Yates and Ray
E. Bornert II
we are reminded incessantly these days, was a terrible thing. In
todayís politically correct society, some blacks are demanding reparations
for slavery because their remote ancestors were slaves. Slavery
is routinely used to bash the South, although the slave trade began
in the North, and slavery was once practiced in every state in the
Union. Todayís historians assure us that the War for Southern Independence
was fought primarily if not exclusively over slavery, and that by
winning that war, the North put an end to the peculiar institution
once and for all.
Time out! Shouldnít we back up and ask: what is slavery? It has
been a while since those ranting on the subject have offered us
a working definition of it. They will all claim that we know good
and well what it is; why play games with the word? But given the
adage that those who can control language can control policy, it
surely canít hurt to revisit the definition of slavery. There are
good reasons to suspect the motives of those who wonít allow their
basic terms to be defined or scrutinized.
is a definition, one that will make sense of the instincts telling
us that slavery is indeed an abomination: slavery is non-ownership
of oneís Person and Labor. It is involuntary servitude. A slave
must work under a whip, real or figurative, wielded by other persons,
his owners, with no say in how (or even if) his labors are compensated.
His is a one-way contract he cannot opt out of. A slave is tied
to his master (and to the land where he labors). He cannot simply
quit if he doesnít like it. Moreover, a slave can be bought and
sold like any other commodity.
this case slavery is at odds with libertarian social ethics, in
which all human beings have a natural right to ownership of Person
and Labor. According to libertarian social ethics, contracts should
be voluntary and not coerced. This is sufficient for us to oppose
slavery with all our might. However, notice that this clear definition
of slavery is a double-edged sword. There is no reference to race
in the above definition. That whites enslaved blacks early in our
history is an historical accident; there is nothing inherently racial
about slavery. Many peoples have been enslaved in the past, including
whites. The South, too, has no intrinsic connection with slavery,
given how we already noted that it was practiced in the North as
well. No slaves were brought into the Confederacy during its brief,
five-year existence, and it is very likely that the practice would
have died out in a generation or two had the Confederacy won the
it is clear that when most people talk about slavery, they are referring
to chattel slavery, the overt practice of buying, selling
and owning people like farm animals or beasts of burden. Are there
other forms of slavery besides chattel slavery?
answering, letís review our definition above and contrast slavery
with sovereignty, in the sense of sovereignty over oneís life. Slavery,
we said, is nonownership of Person and Labor. In that case, sovereignty
is ownership of Person and Labor. The basic contrast, then,
is between slavery and sovereignty, and the issue is ownership.
And there are two basic things one can own: oneís Person (oneís
life), and oneís Labor (the fruits of oneís labors, including personal
wealth resulting from productive labors).
us quantify the situation. A plantation slave owned neither himself
nor the fruits of his labors. That is, he owned 0% of Person and
0% of Labor. In an ideal libertarian order, ownership of Person
and Labor would be just the opposite: 100% of both. In this case,
we have a method allowing us to describe other forms of slavery
by ascribing different percentages of ownership to Person and Labor.
For example, we might say that a prison inmate owns 5% of Person
and 50% of Labor. Inmates are highly confined in person yet they
are allowed to own wealth both inside the prison and outside. Some,
moreover, are allowed to work at jobs for which they are paid. When
slavery was abolished, ownership of Person and Labor was transferred
to the slave, and he became mostly free. So let us define the following
categories in terms of individual percentage ownership:
ownership of Person and Labor
% ownership of Person and Labor
ownership of Person and Labor
this in mind, here is our question for our readers: how much
ownership do you have in your person and your labor? Are you
really free? Or are you a partial slave? We are not, of course,
talking about arrangements that cede a portion of ownership of Person
and Labor to others through voluntary contract.
submit that forcible taxation on your personal income makes you
a partial slave? For if you are legally bound to hand a certain
percentage of your income (the fruits of your labors) over to federal,
state and local governments, then from the legal standpoint you
only have "some % ownership" of your person and labor.
The pivotal point is whether or not ownership is ceded through voluntary
contract. Have you any recollection of any deals you signed with
the IRS promising them payment of part of your income? If not, then
if 30% of your income is paid in income taxes, then you have only
70% ownership of Labor. You are a slave from January through April
a very conservative estimate at best, today!
one wants to stand on the U.S. Constitution as oneís foundation,
then the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution can
be used as an ironclad argument against a forcible direct tax on
the labor of a human being. The 13th Amendment says:
"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment
for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall
exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate
13th Amendment makes it very clear that we cannot legally
or Constitutionally be forced into involuntary servitude.
such, we maintain that a human being has an inalienable right to
own 100 % of Person and 100% of Labor, including control over how
the fruits of his actions are dispensed. A human being has an inalienable
right to control the compensation for his labor while in the act
of any service in the marketplace e.g., digging ditches,
flipping burgers, word-processing documents for a company, programming
computers, preparing court cases, performing surgery, preaching
sermons, or writing novels.
forcible direct tax on the labor of a human being is in violation
of this right as stated in the 13th Amendment. If we
work 40 hours a week, and another entity forcibly conscripts 25
% of our compensation, then we argue that we have been forced into
involuntary servitude slavery for 10 of those 40 hours,
and we were free for the other 30. If we could freely choose to
work just the 30 hours and decline to work the 10 hours, then our
wills would not be violated and the 13th Amendment would
Congress, the IRS and their Internal Revenue Code (IRC) lay direct
claim to those ten hours (or some stated percentage) without our
other words, in a free and just society, a society in which there
is no slavery of any form:
beings are not forced to work for free, in whole or in part.
beings are not slaves to anything or anyone.
who attempts to force us to work for free, without compensation,
has violated our rights under the 13th Amendment.
of course, is not the state of affairs in the United States of America
at the turn of the millennium, in which:
labor involuntarily for at least four months out of every year
for the government.
are, therefore, slaves for that period of time.
government, having forced us to work for free, without compensation,
has violated the 13th Amendment.
course, what follows from all this discussion is that there is an
issue about slavery. But it is not the issue politically correct
historians and activists are raising. As for reparations, we suspect
many of us might be willing to let bygones be bygones if we never
had to pay out another dime to the IRS. We often read about how
great the economy is supposedly doing. Just imagine how it would
flourish if human beings owned 100% of Person and Labor, and could
voluntarily invest the capital we currently pay to the government
in our businesses, our homes, our schools, and our communities!
those of you who believe that the 16th Amendment repealed,
replaced, modified, appended, amended or superceded the 13th
Amendment, you are mistaken. For an Amendment to be changed, in
any way, there must be an Amendment that emphatically declares this
action. There is absolutely nothing in the Constitution that alters
the efficacy of the 13th Amendment in even the slightest
way. The 16th merely allowed the government to enter
the "National Social Benefits" business where it finances the system
with the mandatory contributions of voluntary participants. While
all Americans certainly understand the concept of mandatory contributions,
they fail to understand the concept of voluntary participation,
largely due to a very effective marketing campaign on the part of
our central government for several generations now since the Great
Depression. The 16th gave the government the power to
legally enter a contractual relationship with its citizens wherein
the citizen contributes a portion of his labor in exchange for social
benefits. In order for both Amendments to peacefully coexist, the
contractual relationships in the system created by the 16th
cannot be forced upon the citizens. For to do so would be
to contradict the 13th completely.
final questions, and a few final thoughts. Can we really take seriously
the carpings of politically correct historians about an arrangement
(chattel slavery) that hasnít existed for 140 years when they completely
ignore the structurally similar arrangements (tax slavery) that
have existed right under their noses during most of the years since.
And does a governmental system which systematically violates its
own founding documents, and then oversees the imprisoning of those
who refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the violations, really
have a claim on the loyalty of those who would be loyal to the ideals
represented in those founding documents?
we have to make a decision. How long are we going to continue to
put up with the present arrangements? In the Declaration of Independence
is found these remarks: "Ö [a]nd accordingly all Experience
hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils
are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms
to which they are accustomed." We are accustomed to the income
tax. Most people take it for granted, and donít look at fundamental
issues. Yet some have indeed opted out of the tax system. It is
necessary, at present, to become self-employed and hire oneself
out based on a negotiated contract in which you determine your hourly
rate and then bill for your time. Then you send your client an invoice,
they write a check directly to you in response, and you take the
check and deposit it in your bank account; you may wish to open
a bank account with a name like John Smith Enterprises DBA (DBA
stands for ĎDoing Business Así). If the bank asks for a tax-ID number,
you may give your social security number. This is perfectly legal
since you are not a corporation nor are you required to be. Nor
does the use of a government issued number contractually obligate
you to participate in their system.
should specify here that we are discussing taxes on income resulting
from personal labor, to be carefully distinguished from taxes for
the sale of material items, or excise taxes. These are an entirely
advocating opting out of the tax slavery system, we are not advocating
anything illegal here; that is the most surprising thing of all.
The Treasury Department nailed Al Capone not because of failure
to pay taxes on his personal labor but for his failure to pay the
excise tax on the sale of alcoholic beverages. So a plan to be self-employed
that includes profit from the sale of material goods should include
a plan to pay all the excise taxes; you risk a prison sentence if
you donít. But the 13th Amendment directly prohibits
anything or anyone from conscripting your person or the fruits of
your physical or cognitive labors; to do so is make a slave of you.
You may, of course, voluntarily participate in the SSA-W2 system
by free choice. In this case you are required to submit to the rules
as outlined in the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). And this means that
you will contribute a significant fraction of your labor to pay
for the group benefits of the system in which you are voluntarily
relationship with the system technically begins with the assignment
of a Social Security Number (Personal Tax ID Number). This government-issued
number, however, does not contractually obligate you to anything.
The government cannot conscript its citizens simply by assigning
a number to them. Assigning the number is perfectly fine. But conscripting
them in the process is a serious no-no. Some people that feel strongly
about the last chapters of the book of Revelation might view this
as pure evil.
critical point in the relationship begins when a citizen accepts
a job with an IRS registered corporation. Accepting the government
owned SSA-W2 job marries you to the system. The payroll department
has the employee fill out a W4. This W4 officially notifies the
employee that the job in question is officially part of the SSA-W2
system and that all job-income is subject first to the rules and
regulations of the IRC and then secondly to the employee. When you
sign that W4 you are at that point very, very married to the system.
why not just decline to sign the W4?
can decline to sign a W4 but this does not accomplish much nor does
it unmarry you from the system. Your payroll office will merely
use the IRC defaults already present in the payroll software and
all deductions will be based on those parameters.
you might say, fine, I'll sign a W4 but I'll direct my payroll department
to withhold zero. (You can do this for federal withholding but not
for social security tax.) This still does not unmarry you from the
system. Your payroll department still reports the gross income and
deductions for your SSA-W2 job to the IRS each and every quarter.
And at the end of the year you will probably end up writing a large
check to the IRS for the group contributions you declined to pay
during the year.
then might say, Okay, then I'll just direct my payroll office to
decline to report income to the IRS.
they cannot legally decline to report your SSA-W2 income because
of their contractual obligations under the IRC that were agreed
to when they established their official IRS registered corporation.
The corporation can get into deep trouble by violating their contract.
you reply in turn, I'll just get the corporation to create a non-SSA-W2
job for me.
this time: the corporation cannot do this either; their contract
under the IRC requires every single employee-job in that corporation
to be an SSA-W2 job. This is similar to labor union practices of
insisting that all jobs in a plant be union jobs.
retort: isn't this a government monopoly on every corporate job
short answer is YES.
how can I legally decline to work for free?
answer is to decline to be an 'employee' of an official IRS registered
is that possible?
answer is simple. You become an independent contractor. The Supreme
Court upholds the sovereignty of the individual and has declared
that your "...power to contract is unlimited." Corporations
hire the labors of non-employees each and every day.
there is an infestation of cockroaches near the employee break-room,
the corporation doesn't create an SSA-W2 employee exterminator job.
They hire a contract exterminator to kill the bugs. When the bug-man
arrives they don't hand him a W4 and ask him to declare his allowances,
they lead him straight to the big-fat-ugly roaches and implore him
to vanquish the vermin immediately. When the bug-man finishes the
job he hands them an invoice for his services. And the company sends
him a check to pay the invoice. And nowhere on that check will you
find a federal, state, county or city withholding deduction or a
social security deduction or a medical or dental deduction or a
garnishment or an "I'll-be-needing-an-accountant-to-figure-all-this-out"
deduction or a "Tuesday-Save-The-Turnips-Tax" deduction. On the
contrary, the bug-man receives full remuneration for his service.
This simple arrangement is completely legal and the IRC has zero
contractual claim to any part of this check (assuming the bug-man
has made no contract under the IRC). And anyone or anything that
attempts to forcibly conscript any part of that check is violating
the bug-man's rights under the 13th Amendment.
COURT RULING ON INDIVIDUAL SOVEREIGNTY
is a clear distinction in this particular case between an individual
and a corporation, and that the latter has no right to refuse to
submit its books and papers for an examination at the suit of the
State. The individual may stand upon his constitutional rights as
a citizen. He is entitled to carry on his private business in his
own way. His power to contract is unlimited. He owes no such duty
to the State, since he receives nothing therefrom, beyond the protection
of his life and property. His rights are such as existed by the
law of the land long antecedent to the organization of the State,
and can only be taken from him by due process of law, and in accordance
with the constitution. Among his rights are a refusal to incriminate
himself, and the immunity of himself and his property from arrest
or seizure except under a warrant of the law. He owes nothing to
the public so long as he does not trespass upon their rights." Hale
v. Henkel, 201 U.S. 43 at 47 (1905).
does the bug-man do with his check?
short answer is ... he keeps it ... all of it.
about filing a tax return?
bug-man declines to file a return since he has nothing to report
that is under the jurisdiction of the IRC. Since he does not work
in a government owned SSA-W2 job he is out of the system and under
no contractual obligation to make contributions. The corporation
that wrote him a check for his service legally reports it as an
internal business expense. He is legally classified as a non-participant.
you are in the SSA-W2 system:
purpose of an individual year-end tax-return is to settle the exact
amount of contractually required contributions to the SSA-W2 system
as determined by the IRC. Filing is purely voluntary. You can decline
to file but doing so does not release you from your contractual
obligations under the IRC. In the absence of a tax-return, the IRC
permits the IRS to file a tax-return on your behalf and they are
allowed to file a return that maximally favors them. And this they
will do if it creates a receivable accounting lingo for Ė "you
owe them money." They will decline to file a return if it would
create a payable accounting lingo for "they owe you money."
If the IRS files a return and creates a receivable against you they
will send you a notice declaring their claim. If you decline to
pay, the IRC permits the IRS to file a tax-lien against you. This
of course will be seen on your credit report. And the end result
is your credit is damaged. The IRS computers will see to it that
the lien remains on your credit report until the lien is paid. You
can't beat a computer.
if I file a return but cheat like crazy?
is a very bad idea. The Treasury Department nailed Leona Helmsley
not because she failed to pay taxes on her personal labor but because
she filed a fraudulent tax return. Filing a dishonest tax return
puts you at risk. The IRS is very astute at defending itself. Basically
the IRS is responsible for enforcing the IRC rules. If you are in
the SSA-W2 system you have to live by the IRC. If you decide to
stay in the system, we recommend securing the services of a highly
qualified CPA or tax attorney that can assist you in filing the
most advantageous return possible without committing fraud or risking
the end, the law does allow you to opt-out because you can't be
forced to work for free. If you do opt-out there are at least 2
potential inconveniences you need to understand:
Difficulty with conventional loans.
will have a far more difficult time getting loans from conventional
banks, because so often these depend on verifying your income with
signed tax returns you no longer have. You can hire an accountant
to compose a certified financial statement that some loan institutions
may accept as valid proof of income.
No unemployment benefits.
benefit is part of the SSA-W2 system and since you're not in the
system you can't use the benefits. If you have no contracts you
only have yourself to complain to, you can't complain to the government
because you can't get anyone to do business with you.
some who have opted out have moved all their physical assets into
a trust. This measure makes it almost impossible for the IRS to
touch the assets. The IRS, after all, cannot simply decide to go
after a personís wealth. They have to obey IRC rules as well. If
there is no income over which they have jurisdiction then they can
legally do nothing.
is worth noting, finally, that the government is in the "National
Social Benefits" business. The government entered this business
with the ratification of the 16th Amendment and has achieved
a near perfect monopoly in this market (a violation of anti-trust
laws). If you don't believe this, try finding a non-SSA-W2 job with
a U.S. corporation. As such, it is in the interest of any business
that has a monopoly to get the customers to believe that there is
no alternative to the present business relationship. The government
is not about to provide any of its customers (you and I) with any
information suggesting otherwise. In obtaining such information,
we are clearly on our own; no government agency will assist you
in opting out of the income tax system or the social security system,
with the possible exception of the U.S. Supreme Court, should the
right case one day come before them.
oneís best weapon is still the Declaration of Independence, the
U.S. Constitution, the 13th Amendment, and information.
Whatever the inconveniences, the reward is personal sovereignty
otherwise known as freedom.
Yates has a Ph.D in Philosophy and is the author of Civil
Wrongs: What Went Wrong With Affirmative Action
(San Francisco: ICS Press, 1994). A free lance writer, lecturer,
and frequent contributor to LewRockwell.com and The
Edgefield Journal, he lives in Columbia, South Carolina.
E. Bornert II is President of HixoxiH Software. A portion of
this article has been adapted from his essay
Are You A Slave? He lives in Snellville, Georgia.