According to an IRS website, there are a number of publications that include the term “Federal Income Tax” and/or “federal income tax”.
What does the phrase “Federal Income Tax” mean? I expect that, if asked, most people would agree that the phrase refers to a “Tax” on all “Income” that’s enforced by the “Federal” (Government).
But is it possible that “Federal Income Tax” instead refers to a “Tax” that only applies to “Federal Income”? If so, what is “Federal Income” and who receives it and is therefore subject to the “Tax”?
I’m not betting that any of this speculation is true, but if there were a “Tax” on “Federal Income,” might that “Tax” only apply to whatever “Income” is received as a Federal Employee? If you weren’t a “federal employee,” could you be liable for a tax on “Federal Income”
Given just three words (“Federal Income Tax”) we can find at least three potential meanings.
So, when the IRS Form 1040 is headed “U.S. Individual Income Tax Return” we have five words and an increased number potential meanings.
For example, the term “U.S.” is presumed to refer to “United States”–but does it? If “U.S.” refers to the “United States,” does it refer to the several “United States” seen in the 13th Amendment or the singular “United States” seen in the 14th Amendment? Does it refer to U.S. territories, States of the Union or both?
Does “U.S.” give implicit notice of the jurisdiction and authority of this tax? I.e., does this tax only apply within the “U.S.” as opposed to Canada or France?
Or is “U.S.” most properly understood to not “stand alone” as a statement of jurisdiction, but to be part of the single term “U.S. Individual”? If so, does the 1040 tax only apply to the income of “U.S. Individuals”? If so, what, exactly is the legal definition of a “U.S. Individual”? Is a “U.S. Individual” something other than a “U.S. citizen,” U.S. national,” or “U.S. resident”? Am I presumed to be a “U.S. Individual”? If so, what is the basis for that presumption? If I’m not a “U.S. Individual,” am I exempt from paying income tax?
More than likely, the word “Individual” is not part of the term “U.S. Individual,” but signifies the status of the person using a 1040 form. I.e., each 1040 is only for use by a single “Individual”. Therefore, the 1040 might be improper for use by corporations, partnerships, or similar similar entities composed of more than one “individual”.
But, if the word “Individual” is used as a noun, what kind of “person” is meant by the “Individual”? Are we talking about an “Individual (State citizen)”? How ’bout “Individual (14th Amendment citizen)”? “Individual (resident)”? “Individual (taxpayer)”? “Individual (man made in God’s image)”? What kind of “Individual” are we talking about? What evidence exists to show that I am a member of that kind of “Individuals”?
If it were true that 1040 is to be filed by only a single “Individual,” and if it were true that the name “Alfred Adask” signifies a man made in God’s image and the name “ALFRED N ADASK” signifies some other kind of entity–which one–“Adask” or “ADASK”–is the “Individual” deemed to file the 1040? If “Adask” and “ADASK” are two different entities, can both legitimately participate in the filing of an “Individual” Income Tax Return?
What if the word “Individual” isn’t used as a noun (that’s modified by the adjective “U.S.”)? What if “Individual” is used as an adjective to modify the noun “Income”? Does that mean that the resulting tax applies only to “Individual Income”? If so, again, what kind of “Individual” is being referenced? Citizen, resident, taxpayer, occupant, inhabitant, legal-fiction or man-made-in-God’s-image? If I’m not one of that kind of “Individuals,” am I obligated to pay income taxes?
If “Income” isn’t being used as a noun, but is instead an adjective modifying the word “Tax,” then what exactly is the definition of “Income”? Is “Income” only measured in Federal Reserve Notes (fiat dollars which are debt-instruments)? If so, how can my increased number of debt-instruments be construed to be “income”? Wouldn’t it follow that by acquiring more debt-instruments, I’d be deeper in debt? If so, do more debt-instruments actually constitute “income” in the sense of a growing mass of assets? Or do more debt-instruments constitute “outgo” in the sense of becoming more indebted?
And then there are the words “Tax” and “Return”. What do they mean?
We could learn an enormous amount if the IRS would merely tell us which of the five words (“U.S,” “Individual,” “Income,” “Tax” and “Return”) were used as nouns and which were used as adjectives. It’s entirely possible that all of the first four words were all used as a series of adjectives to modify the only noun (“Return”).
And, finally, the phrase “U.S. Individual Income Tax Return” may have no meaning whatsoever because it’s only used as a name or title for a particular form. The IRS might just as easily call that form the “1040,” the “U.S. Individual Income Tax Return” or the “Sainted Babaloo”. What difference do the definitions of the individual words make if the five-word phrase is only a name for the form rather than some sort of legal description or statement?
I can imagine raising questions like those previously suggested in a courtroom. I can imagine the judge dismissing my questions by saying something like, “Mr. Adask, we all know what ‘U.S. Individual Income Tax Return’ means–it’s common knowledge. So the court will not entertain any more of your frivolous questions.”
I can imagine that the jury might agree. They might reasonably suppose I was just screwing around with my endless questions about words and grammar for the purpose of obstructing justice rather than getting to the truth.
But my response might be something like this:
“OK, judge, if people can rely on our ‘common knowledge’ to know the meaning of ‘U.S. Individual Income Tax Return’–why do we need the ‘Internal Revenue Code (IRC)’?
“The IRC and/or Title 26 are roughly 4 million words long. Why do we need 4 million words to explain a tax liability that which can be known by ‘common knowledge’?
“Conversely, if the IRC requires 4 million words, how can we reasonably presume to rely on ‘common knowledge’ to understand any part of the IRC? If average Americans could rely on their mere ‘common knowledge’ to deduce their tax liabilities, why would anyone need to hire tax accountants and CPAs? If ‘common knowledge’ is sufficient for average Americans to understand their tax liabilities and exemptions, why to do the courts advise most defendants to hire attorneys to defend them in tax court?
“But isn’t it also ‘common knowledge’ that no one–not even tax attorneys–fully understands the IRC?
“Don’t courts recognize a ‘reliance defense’ whereby liability for allegedly criminal or penal conduct can be excused or at least mitigated if the defendant relied in the advice of his attorney when he committed the alleged offense? Isn’t the ‘reliance’ defense based to some degree on recognition that the average person’s ‘common sense’ understanding of the law is likely to be flawed or incomplete?”
“If ‘ignorance of the law is no excuse,’ and if the average person is incompetent by reason of intellect or education to understand the law, doesn’t it follow that we must all be entitled to ask questions about the law in order to reduce our ignorance? If so, why must our questions be addressed to our own attorneys when studies indicate that 70% of the American people can’t afford to hire an attorney–and most attorneys can’t or won’t answer our questions, anyway? If it’s true that ‘ignorance of the law is no excuse,’ it must also be true that a government that refuses to answer our questions about the law is compelling or ignorance and perhaps even relying on our ignorance to more easily exploit us?
“Ignorance may be no excuse, but a refusal to answer questions about the law constitutes a compelled ignorance which must is inexcusable!”
[Courtroom and jury break out in applause. Irate judge slams gavel down and shouts “Order, order–or I’ll clear the court!” The blond with the big bazooms (who’d given me a lot of trouble up to this point) looks at me with love and admiration and I know that she’ll soon be bearing my children. The music swells, I leave the courtroom with blonde and head for the nearest Motel 6.]
OK, OK, OK. Maybe my courtroom fantasy is a little over-the-top. All of these “scripts” are always subject to a big unpredictability–the other people involved. If I pose one of my brilliant questions and the judge or prosecutor offers an even more brilliant response that leaves me speechless, my script will collapse and I’ll be beat and the blond may leave with the prosecutor.
But my point remains that once you become adept at dissecting the words and the phrases that are used by the law to punish you, good things can happen. This is especially true if you pose your questions at the administrative level, long before you ever reach a courtroom.
The worst thing you can do is try to “act smart” and pretend to “understand” everything said or written by your adversaries. I guarantee you don’t really “understand”. Why pretend otherwise? Why not implicitly admit your ignorance and attempt to resolve that ignorance by asking questions of the very people who are trying to harass or oppress you?
Why not use your native ignorance (on which government relies) in the same way that a judo black belt uses his adversary’s momentum to throw him to the ground? Make ’em answer your questions or admit that they don’t understand the law any better than you do. If the government is ignorant of the law, they, too should have “no excuse” for proceeding against anyone. It is conceivable that the government’s ignorance might be used as grounds to sue them for “false” or “malicious” prosecution. If I ask a question that’s central to my being prosecuted and my adversary can’t answer may question and makes no effort to find the answer to my question, does his failure to seek the answer to my questions constitute evidence of his malice towards me? Could his failure to seek the answers to my legitimate and relevant questions be grounds for alleging malicious prosecution?
If your governmental opponents refuse or otherwise fail to answer your questions, it may be that they thereby compel and sustain your ignorance. If the gov-co subsequently brings charges against you in any court of equity, you might be able to argue that by compelling your ignorance, they approach the court with “unclean hands”. In theory (or perhaps in fantasy), the case might therefore be dismissed.
Questions, questions, questions–based on nothing more than language, grammar and definitions of the words and phrases used by your adversaries to punish or exploit you–can be extremely helpful, educational and even fun.