A new bill progressing through Congress would authorize the federal government to stop people alleged to owe taxes from leaving the country. State of California Senator Barbara Boxer introduced the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act”, which includes a section that allows the State Department to “deny, revoke or limit” passport rights for any taxpayer with “serious delinquencies.”
The Twenty-Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified on January 23, 1964:
Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.
Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
The Twenty-Fourth Amendment tells us that after January 23, 1964 governments will not be permitted to impose a poll tax, a tax on the right to vote, or any other kind of tax, in any federal election. But, what does that Amendment have to do with the right to travel?
The Twenty-Fourth Amendment confirms the right of a free inhabitant to be a citizen at will and to cease being a citizen anytime he or she wishes, if the payment of taxes can’t be made a condition of federal citizenship what duty can government impose on any inhabitant?
Congress tried to impose the duty to pay a direct income tax on ordinary individuals in Section 29 of the 1894 Income Tax Law and the United States Supreme Court held the entire law unconstitutional as a direct tax, which was not apportioned, as property taxes on homes are apportioned by county assessors.
Ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment clarified the power of Congress to enact an indirect income tax: “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.”
The power of Congress to impose direct and indirect taxation began before the ratification of the Constitution of September 17, 1787 in 1783 with the annexation of the Northwest Territory by the April 15, 1783 preliminary ratification of the Articles of Peace with Great Britain ending the American Revolution. The United States in Congress assembled could impose direct and indirect taxation in the Northwest Territory and similar territory upon attainment of proprietary power over that territory.
The power to tax of the United States in Congress assembled was not dependent on the authority of that Congress to impose a duty to make a return of taxable income on inhabitants of the Northwest Territory. The United States in Congress assembled had proprietary power over the Northwest Territory, it lacked the bureaucracy it needed to lay and collect the taxes it had the authority to impose with the Northwest Territory. The Constitution of September 17, 1787 provided that administrative capacity by vesting in the President of the United States of America executive power to appoint with the advice and consent of the Senate tax assessors and Collectors of Internal Revenue. Over time the duties to make tax assessments and tax collections were consolidated in the Collector of Internal Revenue and Deputy Collector of Internal Revenue. In 1952, the Reorganization of the Internal Revenue Bureau into the Internal Revenue Service eliminated the only two Officers of the United States authorized to assess and collect federal internal revenue.
Abolition of the Collector of Internal Revenue and Deputy Collector of Internal Revenue returned the “power to lay and collect taxes on incomes” back to Congress where it remains today. Congress last acted on the duty to make a return of taxable income in Section 3707 of the Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998. The effect of that Section which was codified in a Note to Section 6651 26 U.S.C. was to re-define a taxpayer as one who files a return for two consecutive years and who pays the tax on the return. Earlier definitions of “taxpayer” defined that term as someone subject to a tax, after 1952 no one in government had authority to make another subject to a tax.
The basis of federal taxation began as war debt and has always been the repayment of debt, first for the debt resulting from the American Revolution and then for all the debt caused by the spending of every Congress under the Constitution of the United States. Such spending as the Congress of the United States made was ostensibly authorized by voters, who voluntarily registered to vote and paid for in part by taxpayer s, who at least since 1952 have all volunteered to pay federal taxation. As government debt is not personal debt, taxation for the payment of government debt or the use of government is a gift to government. The payment of taxation was declared to be a gift to the English monarch since the Declaration of Rights of 1765 and the consensual nature of taxation was confirmed in the Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776.
The 1952 abolition of the Collector of Internal Revenue and Deputy Collector of Internal Revenue confirmed federal taxation as a gift to government. Without the aforementioned officers all tax payments are gifts to government. It follows that a debt cannot be created from a gift that is not made.
The Twenty-Fourth Amendment imposes a heavy burden on government to show why government may withhold the right to travel when it cannot abridge the right to vote where it is alleged a voluntary payment of a tax has not been made.
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Dr. Eduardo M. Rivera