Is there a law that proves we have to pay income tax?

A growing number of people I know say filing and paying income taxes is voluntary. That is, paying income taxes was optional.

Of course, we have all heard about the horrific penalties for not paying income taxes… everything from heavy fines, penalties – even prison sentences.

But, is the entire income-tax collection system a pyramid scheme in disguise for private bankers. Or is it a legitimate government revenue collection department that we should all embrace for our country’s sake?

The history of income taxes (revealed)

According to The Library of Congress, the income tax was temporarily needed to fund the Civil War:

During the Civil War, Congress passed the Revenue Act of 1861 which included a tax on personal incomes to help pay war expenses. The tax was repealed 10 years later.

And we have been paying for the Civil War ever since then – over 158 years later.

This temporary-to-permanent tax scheme is not unheard of…

There is a tax on our phone bill called the Federal telephone excise tax. No joke: this “excise tax” was first put into place to fund the Spanish–American War in 1898. I am not kidding. This never-ending tax has been repealed and reinstated several times – usually in war or economic crisis. And yes, we are still paying this tax – Americans can find this tax on their phone bill… it displays on a line item titled, “Federal Excise Tax” or “Federal Tax.” As we see, the IRS was offering to refund us this voluntary tax… interesting, eh?

Is there a law to pay income taxes?

The IRS has a webpage devoted to making clear whether the income tax is optional. And their Frivolous Tax Arguments in General webpage states:

The Law: The word “voluntary,” as used in Flora and in IRS publications, refers to our system of allowing taxpayers initially to determine the correct amount of tax and complete the appropriate returns, rather than have the government determine tax for them from the outset. The requirement to file an income tax return is not voluntary and is clearly set forth in sections 6011(a), 6012(a), et seq., and 6072(a) of the Internal Revenue Code. See also Treas. Reg. § 1.6011-1(a).

And when we search the IRS’ website for sections 6011(a) of the Internal Revenue Code, it leads to this PDF. Clearly, this clearly does not clear up the confusion. (Am I clear?) It certainly does not point to any law that paying income taxes is mandatory. At lease I could not find it.

The IRS references Helvering v. Mitchell to prove there is a law that we must file and pay income taxes. But when I investigate this case law, I cannot find any link to any law that we must pay income taxes.

Even more confusing, the IRS defines “voluntary compliance” as:

Taxpayers will cooperate with the tax system by filing honest and accurate annual returns. The U.S. income tax system operates under this assumption. Voluntary means that each taxpayer is expected to prepare and file returns without government involvement.

And then in 2006, movie producer Aaron Russo put out a compelling video called America: Freedom to Fascism. This video makes a great case that paying income tax here in America is optional. Here is a snippet of this eye-popping video:

And then we have this gem… in 1943, Walt Disney was “commissioned” to make this “patriotic” video titled, “The Spirit of 43”. Disney features Donald Duck. And Donald is trying to sell us on paying our “voluntary” income taxes:

Do I pay income taxes?

Even though the evidence is overwhelming that we do not have to pay income taxes…

I have relented to social pressure and pay every penny I owe.

I get it. The fear porn is thick. No one wants their husband or their dad rotting in jail for trying to buck the system.


Just because I voluntarily pay income tax does not mean the IRS fleeces me.

Of course, I own a business to take full advantage of every deduction possible.

Each year, I comb over the newest list of IRS-verified tax deductions and loopholes. I take pictures of every receipt. And every business deduction I take is carefully tracked. (This is why I do not fear an IRS audit.)

My goal is to make the tiniest profit legally allowable via the IRS tax code.