A proposed constitutional amendment by Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, speaks for itself: “Three years after the ratification of this amendment, the sixteenth article of amendments to the Constitution of the United States shall stand repealed and thereafter Congress shall not levy taxes on personal incomes, estates, and/or gifts.”

The 16th Amendment, ratified in 1913, allowed the federal government to levy a tax on all incomes. House Joint Resolution 45, dubbed the “Liberty Amendment,” would strip the federal government of that authority.



Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas

“America existed for nearly 140 years without an income tax,” Paul concluded. “The federal government generally adhered to its strictly enumerated constitutional functions during that time, operating with modest excise revenues. When Congress introduced the 16th Amendment, it opened the door to the era of big government. This amendment would close that door.”

Many Americans believe they are overtaxed, and investigations into the Internal Revenue Service in recent years have shown the agency to be abusive in the exercise of its authority to collect taxes. The tax code increasingly faces grass-roots legal challenges, and interest in flat-tax and national sales tax proposals is at an all-time high, giving Paul’s proposal enormous popularity among disgruntled taxpayers and those simply weary of big government.

While there have been several legal challenges to the veracity of the 16th Amendment’s ratification, all such challenges have been rejected by the courts. Plaintiffs argue then-Secretary of State Philander Knox committed fraud when he declared the amendment had been properly approved by the appropriate number of states. (Editor’s note: For a more in-depth discussion of this argument, see the April issue of WorldNetDaily’s monthly print magazine, WorldNet.)

The Texas congressman criticized his colleagues’ frequent manipulation of the massive tax code through various exemptions, credits, deductions and the like.

“America clearly is ready for sweeping tax reform, yet Congress remains focused on rewarding certain constituencies by forever making complex small changes to the existing tax laws. The Liberty Amendment is an attempt to eliminate the system altogether, forcing Congress to find a simple and fair way to collect limited federal revenues. Most of all, the Liberty Amendment is an initiative aimed at reducing the size and scope of the federal government,” he wrote.

If approved, the measure will accomplish that goal through more than elimination of the federal income tax, which is the last of four sections in the bill. Comprised of only four sentences in all, the resolution’s first section prohibits the federal government from engaging in any business “except as specified in the Constitution.” The measure also states that all “activities” of the U.S. government that violate the Constitution will “be liquidated and the properties and facilities affected shall be sold” within three years of the resolution’s adoption.

Critics of HJR 45, however, believe the government is acting within the boundaries of the Constitution by providing public education, welfare services, foreign aid and numerous other programs. But Paul says the sweeping nature of such programs has made government too involved in the lives of individuals.

“The income tax has given government a claim on our lives,” Paul stated. “It has enabled government to expand far beyond its proper limits, invade our privacy and penalize our every endeavor. The Founding Fathers never intended an income tax, and they certainly would be dismayed to know that Americans today give more than a third of their income to the federal government.”

In order for HJR 45 to take effect, according to the text of the measure, the resolution must be adopted by three-fourths of the states in the Union within seven years of the date Congress adopts it. The most recent constitutional amendment, which was proposed by the First Congress on Sept. 25, 1789, and was first adopted by Maryland in December of that year, was ratified on May 18, 1992. It provided that congressional pay raises could not take effect until after the next election.

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.

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