08 / 28 / 10

Paying Taxes: “Voluntary” or Not..?

Have you ever heard that paying taxes in the United States is considered "voluntary" by the IRS?

That's what a number of tax protesters in this country might lead you to believe. They might also lead you to believe that filing tax returns is voluntary, too.

Ever since Congress passed into law the 16th Amendment to the Constitution in 1913, tax protestors have brought up frivolous arguments against the existence of the IRS.

They challenge the government's right to force the citizens of this country to pay taxes. Some of the most vocal opponents of the IRS have even gone on to become outspoken authors and speakers, teaching people how to "live tax free" at seminars, on websites and in books.

If you haven't paid your taxes or you haven't filed because you've been led astray by a tax-protesting book, website and/or public speaker – you may have fallen for a huge con. There have always existed snake-oil salesmen who will get rich from other people's gullibility.

Anytime there is something that seems impossible, there will be no shortage of charismatic charmers who will come out of the woodwork and make attempts to fool the public into believing that they have a "secret formula" or a miracle cure.

And what's worse, it's often the people who are most desperate who fall for their "ear-tickling" messages:

"You don't have to pay the IRS any taxes...just buy my course and I'll show you how."

In the United States, you are required to file and pay taxes. The only thing that's voluntary about it is that you are the one that gets to do it, instead of the government doing it for you.

Because of that, you can choose to use various legal tax exemptions to your advantage to pay lower taxes. If the government was calculating your taxes for you, there would be no way for the government to know what you should pay.

For instance, say you owned a legitimate part-time business on the side in addition to a regular job. You may be able to claim certain tax exemptions for that business according to the tax law. Common and legitimate business expenses might be your car mileage, equipment purchases, or a separate home office.

It's "voluntary" for you to own this business, and since you are responsible for filing taxes on this business, you can "volunteer" to write off these legitimate expenses.

But the filing and paying of taxes is not voluntary.