When our Founding Fathers gave us the United States Constitution, it contained no provision for Congress to tax income. That all changed on Feb. 25, 1913, when Secretary of State Philander C. Knox certified ratification of the 16th Amendment that allowed Congress to tax income. Today, federal income tax rates start at 10% and go as high as 37%. The Social Security and Medicare tax is another 15.3%. Employers pay a portion of this for the employee. But for the self-employed, this means some people are paying as little as 25.3% and as high as 52.3%.
How were 38 states persuaded that imposing a federal tax on income was a good idea?
Liberals, including liberal Republicans, argued only the rich would be taxed. They argued less than 1% of the population would pay income taxes at the rate of only 1% of net income. If I had been alive then, I would’ve sounded the alarm that this 1% rate conceivably could’ve gone as high as 15% or more, and I’m certain many people would’ve laughed at me for being an “extremist” and “alarmist.”
I doubt if the truth were known in 1913 that even one state would’ve ratified the 16th Amendment. So, what’s the truth?
The truth is that the 16th Amendment has led to the creation of the IRS whose tax code, accompanying regulations, revenue rulings and caselaw are now a burgeoning monstrosity at over 75,000 pages. And the 16th Amendment has led to politicians’ using the income tax code to redistribute wealth based on their views of “fairness.”
The 16th Amendment has led to the IRS having law enforcement authority and recently spent about $700,000 to stockpile ammunition. How many guns does it take to shoot $700,000 worth of ammunition anyway? Well, the answer is 4,500 guns, and the IRS actually has purchased 5 million bullets to arm its agents.
I’m not sure how many people make up the small IRS army. But the truth is that the IRS is now hiring 87,000 new IRS employees to enforce the laws flowing from the 16th Amendment. As of 2021, the IRS had about 78,661 employees with an annual budget approaching $12 billion. That will make about 165,661 IRS employees in total with these 87,000 new IRS employees that will cost about another $8 billion a year for the next 10 years. All told, the IRS will spend over $200 billion in the next 10 years enforcing the 16th Amendment. In a job listing found at https://www.jobs.irs.gov/ that’s now unpublished, the IRS listed job duties required applicants to work a minimum of “50 hours per week, which may include irregular hours, and be on-call 24/7, including holidays and weekends” and “carry a firearm and be willing to use deadly force, if necessary.”
There’s simply no way even one state would’ve ratified the 16th Amendment if people would’ve known the whole truth about where the passage of the 16th Amendment would’ve led this country. I’m certain people in 1913 never could’ve imagined the current tax rates, armed IRS law enforcement officers, thousands of pages of rules and billion-dollar IRS budgets.
Because we don’t have to imagine these things and now live under them, the lesson to be learned here for me is simple. What’s that lesson for you?