[JURIST] The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] on Tuesday launched a new initiative to combat income tax evasion. The National Tax Defier Initiative (TAXDEF) [press release] will investigate and prosecute those who actively "defy and deny" US tax laws, while also educating the public about the consequences of tax evasion. Assistant Attorney General Nathan J. Hochman [DOJ profile] said:
This initiative is aimed at stopping those tax defiers who do not meet their federal tax obligations and seek to transfer those obligations to their neighbor's back. The tax defier is not someone who has a legitimate or factual dispute about the amount of tax due. The tax defier is not someone who is merely exercising his or her First Amendment rights to challenge the tax policy choices that Congress has made. Instead, the tax defier is someone who rejects the legal foundation of the tax system, despite decades of legal precedent upholding the system's constitutional and statutory validity, and who takes specific and concrete action to violate the law.Also Tuesday, the DOJ announced it had filed three civil injunction complaints [press release] seeking to block promotions of an alleged tax-fraud scheme by marketing group Pinnacle Quest International (PQI). The complaints accuse PQI of selling approximately $54 million in materials designed to help preparers evade taxes between 2002 to 2006. AP has more.
Income tax evasion has long been a problem as tax critics like Freedom Above Fortune [advocacy website] argue that US tax laws are unconstitutional because the 16th Amendment [text] of the US Constitution, which gives Congress the power to levy taxes, was not properly ratified, and Sections 861 through 865 of the Internal Revenue Code [text] exclude earnings in its definition of income. The Internal Revenue Service has repeatedly refused to entertain this position and has even included it on their list of tax scams [PDF text].