Benjamin Franklin wisely counseled that nothing is certain in this world except death and taxes. Yet to this day there are still those who think they can “outsmart” the system and avoid paying taxes or other legal obligations. They soon learn, though, that while you may be able to “cheat death” for a while by living a good, healthy lifestyle, there is no loophole that can get around the legal obligation to pay what you owe in taxes.
There are two recent examples of those who tried—and failed—to beat the system with what they thought was clever legal arguments to avoid taxes.
An Illinois man was just sentenced to more than two years in prison and ordered to pay more than $100,000 that was owed in back taxes. He tried to argue for years that he did not have to pay taxes because he was not a taxpayer, and that the IRS actually violated his constitutional rights by trying to contact him about his taxes. He even sued the IRS.
But the Court of Appeals in that lawsuit took a “been there, done that” approach to his claims. The written opinion that dismissed the lawsuit said that arguments like these have been widely rejected by the Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal.
And now he is learning the hard way that taxes are a certainty, and he has been given a serious penalty for intentionally failing to pay for many years.
In another failed attempt at searching for legal loopholes, the owner of Giordano’s Pizza came up empty and lost control of his business, which has been in bankruptcy. In court documents filed in the bankruptcy case, he tried to claim that he was free from “legal constraints,” which could seem to include paying taxes. His claim is ironic, considering the fact that he is now legally constrained from operating Giordano’s. His attempt at getting around the legal system has gotten him on the outside looking in at the business that he owned and ran for so many years.
What was true in Ben Franklin’s day is still true today. Regardless of how novel and clever you may think your argument is to avoid legal obligations like taxes, you will come up short, to say the least. It’s a one in a million shot to get around a law that everyone else follows based on some technicality you’ve thought of.
What’s ironic/sad about this is that if these “protesters” didn’t challenge the Government, they probably would have gotten away with it. The IRS can’t catch up with the millions of people that work in cash, bogusly call workers independent contractors or under report their income. This is certainly the #1 criminal law that is broken on a daily basis that no one cares about, not even with the incredible deficit and budget issues our State and country face.
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