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Every American taxpayer should be required to write the federal government a check to cover his or her tax liabilities, rather than have an employer withhold the tax amount from paychecks, asserts a Texas congressman.
Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, is prepared to introduce legislation to that effect this week. Modeled after the “Cost of Government Awareness Act” he drafted last year, the bill is designed to make taxpayers aware of how much they are paying the government and to eliminate the burden of tax collection from employers -– especially churches.
“Withholding taxes are presumptively taken, often resulting in an interest-free loan by the taxpayer to the Treasury which is not refunded until sometime the next year,” Paul said. “Furthermore, employers face a tremendous burden complying with the withholding requirements. Private employers should not be required to determine and collect federal tax liabilities. The federal government ought to have the honesty to present the American people with a monthly tax bill.”
Paul’s spokesman, Jeff Deist, asked: “How is it your employer’s job” to ensure that you make good on your tax liability?
The February seizure of Indianapolis Baptist Temple has fueled Paul’s resurrection of the legislation, which he believes could have prevented the church’s catastrophe. As reported by WorldNetDaily, IBT was seized by U.S. Marshals for refusing to withhold taxes from employee paychecks. Ministers and members of IBT hold to a deep religious belief that churches should not act as government agents, and specifically, should not be the government’s tax collector.
Recognizing that the law requires individuals to pay taxes, church employees instead paid their taxes as though they were self-employed. The IRS, however, rejected the practice, reportedly returned the employees’ tax payments, and instead assessed the church for the “back taxes,” penalties and interest upwards of $6 million and seized the church’s property.
“Had Congress passed my bill [last year], the Baptist Temple might have been spared,” Paul stated. “The Temple, like an increasing number of private employers, simply objects to being forced to act as an agent for the IRS by collecting withholding taxes. It’s a crime that the congregation may lose its home because of a principled refusal, based on religious faith, to do the job of the IRS.”
“Let’s make sure that this never happens again. Let’s get churches out of the business of being IRS agents,” added Deist.
Current law requires all employers, including churches and non-profit organizations, to withhold income taxes from employee paychecks. It is worth noting that a relatively small but growing number of employers reject the assertion that they are required to withhold taxes. Pointing to IRS-issued refunds based on employers’ amended returns which reflect no withholdings, vocal members of the movement say these refunds confirm the legality of their practice of not withholding. IRS officials, however, say the refunds are merely clerical mistakes on the part of overworked agents, and that strict enforcement actions will be forthcoming. (Editor’s note: For an in-depth discussion of this issue, see the April issue of WorldNet Magazine.)
Though IBT’s fate has been sealed, Paul hopes his bill will pass for the benefit of other churches and employers who are essentially acting as unpaid government agents by taking money from employee paychecks and funneling it to the IRS.
The practice of withholding taxes results “in a presumptive interest-free loan by employees to the Treasury. Employers spend huge sums and countless hours complying with the withholding scheme. Worst of all, taxpayers are deceived by the direct removal of taxes from their paychecks,” said Paul. “The government knows that the easiest way to tax Americans is by taking payments directly from their paychecks. The premise is that the taxpayer won’t miss the portion of his paycheck that he never gets.”
The current tax system evolved during World War II. Withholding tax money from each paycheck that would otherwise be due once a year gave government the instant cash flow necessary to fund a massive war effort. But though the war ended, withholdings didn’t.
Advocates of withholding believe the practice is necessary to ensure tax payments are made. Others, including some congressmen, assert that Americans are indeed aware of how much they pay, and so elimination of the practice is unnecessary to increase public information.
Paul disagrees. “Withholding taxes are fundamentally deceptive,” Paul says. “I want taxpayers to keep all of their paychecks, and pay for government each month with their mortgage and other bills. Then Americans will see just how much of their income goes to taxes, and hopefully they will demand true tax reform.”
Paul plans to introduce the legislation to the House of Representatives this week.
Read WorldNetDaily’s comprehensive analysis of the Indianapolis Baptist Temple case
Read Joseph Farah’s column, “U.S. seizes a church.”
The April edition of WorldNet magazine is devoted entirely to an in-depth examination of the income tax, the 16th Amendment and the legal strategies opponents are using to challenge them. Titled “Tax revolt: How Americans are challenging the IRS and the 16th Amendment,” it is available from WND’s online store.