It happens rarely. A taxpayer challenging the constitutional basis for the income tax wins in court, defeating the Internal Revenue Service, such as in the case brought by the late Tom Cryer, who was acquitted on a charge of failing to pay $73,000 to the government.
Now three members of Congress want to make that result the norm through a bill that would repeal the 16th Amendment, effectively canceling federal income taxes.
Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Okla., argues the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the “right of people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.”
The 16th Amendment, he contends, effectively negates the Fourth Amendment.
“The 16th Amendment should be repealed, and the IRS should be eliminated,” he declared.
The following is WND’s interview with Bridenstine:
Along with Reps. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., and Thomas Massie, R-Ky., Bridenstine has introduced House Joint Resolution 104, "an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the 16th article of Amendment."
"Viable alternative plans for raising revenue fairly to support constitutionally enumerated functions of the federal government have been proposed," Bridenstine said. "As long as the 16th Amendment is in place and lobbyists dominate Washington, these alternatives will never be considered."
Eliminating the 16th Amendment, he said, would eliminate personal and corporate income taxes, the estate and gift taxes, and taxes on investment earnings at the federal level.
He said the process requires support from Americans but isn't complicated. A constitutional amendment can be repealed by another amendment, requiring approval of three-fourths of the states.
After ratification, there would be a two-year period in which to decide on an alternative revenue system.
In an announcement about the plan, Bridenstine charges that the "personal and corporate income tax is a punitive tax on productive effort which discourages investment, innovation, risk-taking and job formation within the United States."
"The income tax code has become too complex for citizens to understand, and the annual time and expense required to comply with the income tax code has become intolerably burdensome," he said.
Further, he said, it's simply unfair and the tax law is subject to "endless manipulation" by those seeking political advantage.
Then there are the revelations in recent months that the IRS has discriminated against conservatives and Christians based on their beliefs, prompting many lawsuits.
Among the groups supporting the amendment strategy are Americans for Limited Government, Americans for Fair Taxation, the Tea Party Patriots, Free Market America and Competitive Governance Action.
At the "Repeal 16" website, visitors are encouraged to find out the position taken by their member of Congress and encourage him to make clear whether he stands "with the American people or with the IRS."
In a statement announcing the plan, Jenny Beth Martin of Tea Party Patriots said the American people "are alarmed with the growing power of the IRS and the rampant abuse of that power."
"That's why both parties claim to favor so-called 'tax reform.' But their 'reform' bills are just political double talk. The way to fix the broken tax system is to repeal the 16th Amendment which created it in the first place."
Nathan Mehrens of Americans for Limited Government said: "Incumbents, lobbyists and cronies are addicted to the taxpayer money that the current tax code, and its enforcer the IRS, rips from the paychecks and pockets of working Americans. The current tax system uses your money and your wealth to grease a machine that pumps lobbying funds and campaign contributions into the pockets of the ruling elite in Washington, D.C."
Cynthia Canevaro of Americans For Fair Taxation said: "For 100 years, both parties have used the IRS as a tool of extreme partisan manipulation. Washington's elected elite refuse to accept the damage the IRS has done to innocent citizens, small business and our nation's economy. Both parties are now boldly claiming comprehensive tax reform; staging controlled feedback tours designed to get the answer they want while putting the American people back to sleep so their beloved income tax code continues status quo. The only way to stop the IRS monster is to remove the source of power that created it – the 16th Amendment and the federal income tax."
In Cryer's case, a 12-member jury in federal jury him not guilty of the IRS' allegations. He had been indicted on a 2006 claim that he failed to pay $73,000 to the government in 2000 and 2001.
At the time, he told WND that his argument was that "income" did not necessarily refer to any money that a person acquires, but rather limited categories such as profit and interest.
He said the free exchange of labor for compensation has been upheld as a right by the Supreme Court, but that doesn't necessarily make the compensation "income" for tax purposes.
"The Founding Fathers intentionally restricted the taxing powers of the new federal government as a measure of restraint on its size. By exceeding that limited taxing authority the federal government has been able to obtain resources beyond its intended reach, and that money has enabled the federal government to exceed its authority," said Cryer of Shreveport, La.,
For example, he said, the Constitution does not empower the federal government to regulate education, employment or agriculture, yet it does so.
"There are three points that are important," he said at the time. "There's no law making the average working man liable [for income taxes], there's no law or regulation that allows the IRS to contend that earnings are 100 percent profit received in exchange for nothing, and the right to earn a living through any lawful occupation is a constitutionally protected fundamental right, and it is exempt from taxation."
At the time, spokesman Robert Marvin in Washington's IRS office told WND the IRS code provides for taxation on salaries or wages, but when pressed for a specific citation or constitutional provision, he said, "I can't comment."