Documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act revealed that agents for the Internal Revenue Service, or IRS, are bypassing warrants and sifting through the email and other electronic communications of American citizens.
Those documents disclosed that “agents were told they didn’t need a warrant to root through emails, texts or Facebook pages of people it is investigating,” according to Fox News.
Despite that IRS email surveillance is a clear affront to privacy and civil liberties, last week the IRS categorically stated that it has done nothing wrong.The agency denies countrywide accusations that it is violating the Fourth Amendment, which guards citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures. Yet, according to a 2009 IRS employee handbook, the Fourth Amendment does not protect private emails because Internet users don’t “have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such communications.”
Even the ACLU is complaining that the IRS is dropping its guard on protecting citizens’ privacy by not deploying basic web security (encrypting language devices), or “https” prefixes in their URL or web source addresses, which are absent from the IRS website. So instead of shielding citizens when they view various sensitive materials on the IRS website, they are offering them as prey to third party e-predators, including the IRS.
The ACLU explained: “That ‘s’ after the ‘http’ may seem insignificant, but it means a lot. It signifies that Google is using Secure Sockets Layer encryption, or SSL, to both encrypt and authenticate its communications. When you visit google.com and you see ‘https’ at the beginning of the address, it lets you know that your connection is secure, and that third parties – such as your internet service provider, employer, or university cannot monitor what you’re doing through the use of network interception technology.”
The IRS might retort that other government websites don’t employ https to restrict third-party viewing either, but the fact is that other government sites don’t bear our finances and a host of other private information (like Social Security numbers) to the world. That is why the IRS should comply like any other financial or credit institutions and employ encrypting security on its website.
The above are a few more reasons why the taxation system in our country is broken, derailed and can’t be fixed. As I pointed out in last week’s column on how the IRS is now robo-auditing your spending , our country desperately needs to abolish the present tax code and enact a Fair or Flat Tax – the type of system, I believe, even our founders would have been proud of. And, best of all, it wouldn’t require a monstrosity the size of the IRS to run it.
Remember, the Internal Revenue Service wasn’t started until nearly a hundred years after the Revolutionary War in 1862 as the Bureau of Internal Revenue. Its creation coincided with the creation of the income tax, which it was designed to collect. Both were the work of President Lincoln and Congress, which saw them as necessary to pay for Civil War expenses.
It is interesting to note, however, that the income tax law was revoked 10 years later, revived in 1894, and then ruled by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional in 1895. Yet in 1913 it became law through the 16th Amendment – just 100 years ago. Ever since then, the income tax has deprived families of their rightful earnings, restricted our liberties and deprived our economy of money that could be invested in productive enterprises.
Our founders did not penalize productivity through taxes the way we do today. They had no IRS. And they believed in minimal taxation.
- They did not pay income taxes, which were unconstitutional;
- They did not pay export taxes, which were unconstitutional;
- But they did tax imports. (The Founders believed in free trade within our own borders and a system of tariffs on imported goods.)
Most of our founders were opposed to domestic taxes. Though some taxes were levied for some consumptives back then, for the first roughly 150 years of our republic (until the inception of the income tax in 1913), the burden of taxation was laid largely upon foreigners, not American citizens, via tariffs (imports). As Thomas Jefferson shared with Gouverneur Morris in 1793, “It must be observed that our revenues are raised almost wholly on imported goods.”
But even if some taxes were incurred by America’s citizens, most founders believed that no taxes should be perpetual, rather temporary because of the temptation to abuse that taxation power. Again, Jefferson spoke for many when he said, “Taxes should be continued by annual or biennial reenactments, because a constant hold, by the nation, of the strings of the public purse is a salutary restraint from which an honest government ought not wish, nor a corrupt one to be permitted, to be free.”
That is why I say that, if the Founding Fathers were alive today, I truly believe they would support a flat or Fair Tax as a way out and forward of our taxation chaos and tyranny. As James Madison said, “Taxes on consumption are always least burdensome, because they are least felt, and are borne too by those who are both willing and able to pay them; that of all taxes on consumption, those on foreign commerce are most compatible with the genius and policy of free States.”
Again, the Fair Tax does away with all taxes and puts in their place a single consumptive tax. It’s equitable because we all pay the same percent. No one, from the poor to the wealthy, can dodge their fair share. When everyone purchases, everyone pays accordingly.
That is also why I say that everyone in Washington needs to answer the question Jefferson asked at the dawn of our republic: “Would it not be better to simplify the system of taxation rather than to spread it over such a variety of subjects and pass through so many new hands?”
If you answer that question in the affirmative, call or write your representatives, then the White House (at 202-456-1111 or by email), to share your sentiments about abolishing the IRS and enacting a flat or Fair Tax. (You can educate yourself and others about the Fair Tax by going to FairTax.org.)