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Rep. Phil Hart: A Very Taxing Process

June 21st, 2010 by Halli

Idaho State Rep. Phil Hart

After fighting what I believed was an unconstitutional federal income tax, six years ago I capitulated, filed returns, and have since then, paid $120,054 in combined state and federal income taxes (including the interest and penalties). At the time, I was also working toward a settlement with the IRS. What derailed this settlement process was becoming a target for an audit. My experiences provide a case study of why we need to get rid of the income tax on wages and salaries.

Years ago I became interested in the income tax and wanted to understand how it worked. I had read a lot of the literature on the subject. In doing so, I noticed there was a big gapping hole in the literature. No one had written about the intent of the Income Tax Amendment when it was debated and finally ratified on February 25, 1913. Plus I thought it would be easier to research the purpose and intent of the income tax rather than study the Internal Revenue Code. I focused my research on the years 1908 to 1913, as this was when the income tax amendment was debated. Because I discovered so much new information in doing this research, I wrote a book about it.

The genesis of the modern income tax was the Democrat Party’s Presidential Platform of 1908. The income tax plank read,

“We favor as part of our revenue system, and we urge the submission of a constitutional amendment specifically authorizing Congress to levy and collect a tax upon individual and corporate incomes to the end that wealth might bear its proportionate share of the burdens of the Federal Government.”

At the time there were no entitlement programs, and the greatest beneficiary of government was the wealthy. But with only consumption taxes, the wealthy were not paying for the benefits they received. The income tax did not start out as a “soak the rich” scheme, but only as an attempt to be fair in distributing the burdens of the cost of government. It was not a tax on people, but only a tax on what was called at the time “accumulated wealth.”

In 1909, the author of the Income Tax Amendment, Senator Brown from Nebraska said “It is the theory of the friends of the income tax proposition that property should be taxed and not individuals.” 44 Congressional Record, 1570 (1909).

I litigated the issue with the government, challenging its constitutionality. My challenge to the income tax included petitioning the United States Supreme Court. But the Supreme Court would not hear my case. The late Mr. Paul Chappell, a former attorney with the IRS Office of Chief Counsel for the District of Columbia said of my Petition “Reading Phil Hart’s work is like returning to law school. After decades of practice as a tax attorney, Phil makes me feel as if I’m a student again.” And after reading my Petition for the eighth time, another tax attorney, Mr. Arch McColl wrote me, “What you did was brilliant legal work in your Petition for Certiorari….”

In 2004, after my judicial remedy had been exhausted, I filed 1040 returns to get caught up. Suddenly I found myself in an IRS audit. I had to sue the IRS to avoid turning over the names and addresses of those who purchased my book, Constitutional Income. I was represented by the Center for Individual Rights, a Washington D.C. public interest freedom of speech law firm. As far as CIR can figure out, I was the first author in American history to have the government demand I turn over such names and addresses.

The Center for Individual Rights won these lawsuits for me. There were actually two lawsuits, and each lawsuit took a year. However, four years later when the IRS issued their final audit report, the IRS denied all my business deductions for eight years. The amount of denied deductions totaled $300,000. Why? An IRS employee told me “When you don’t give us
everything we ask for, you get all of your deductions denied.” For them, this isn’t about the liens or the money; it is about getting the names.

I believe I have a First Amendment right to protect the identities of my readers, just as a journalist has a First Amendment right to protect their sources. I also believe in protecting my readers’ Forth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures. These are principles worth defending!

During this four year audit, I provided the IRS with all my canceled checks, receipts, invoices and so on. Boxes worth. Yet all these deductions were denied solely for political reasons. Losing $300,000 worth of deductions inflated my now purported “taxable income” and the tax imposed thereon. My expenses for engineering and drafting personnel were denied, office rent expenses denied, office supply expenses denied, book publishing expenses including editors, artists and printing expenses denied. All of my business deductions were denied, all of them. What small business can operate with $0 in business expenses over an eight year period?

Protecting my readers from having big government snooping into their lives has increased my state and federal tax liability by about $125,000.

When the Idaho State Tax Commission got their hands on this IRS audit report that reflected the $300,000 in denied business deductions, they wanted their cut of the inflated “taxable income” too. This is the main issue currently being contested in my litigation with them.

After the Supreme Court declining to hear my case, I began making tax payments. But of the $120,054 I have paid since then, not a single dollar of these payments has been used to offset any of the lien amounts. It’s a nightmare. I would happily trade places with any of my detractors who somehow think I’ve gotten a “good deal.”

Regardless of whether or not the income tax on wages and salaries is constitutional, most agree on one thing: it is an inefficient and privacy invading tax. On the private side, it takes 22 cents for its bookkeeping, reporting, accounting fees, and legal fees for every $1 collected. Whereas a consumption tax takes only one cent for compliance on the private side for every $1 collected.

The income tax places a huge tax on wages and salaries. We all know you get less of what you tax. And guess what? We now have fewer jobs. The income tax on wages and salaries is a job killer. And such a complicated system provides many opportunities for abuse on both the private side and the government side.

These circumstances of mine have created a lot of controversy. But how can it be wrong for me to fight for my legitimate deductions and to stand on my principals?

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Posted in Guest Posts, Idaho Legislature, Politics in General, Taxes | No Comments »

David Ripley: Democrats Declare War on Conscience at Party Convention

June 20th, 2010 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

At its recently concluded State Convention, Idaho Democrats revised their Party Platform.

In addition to calling for the withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, Idaho Democrats will campaign this fall on a party plank calling for repeal of the Idaho Health Care Freedom of Conscience Act.

The new platform says that Democrats support “evidence-based medical decisions between a physician and patient”.

This is very curious language, certainly open to wide interpretation. But here is what we bet they are trying to say, without actually saying it: Morality has no place in the practice of medicine. We believe in pure science. If you have a conscientious objection to a medical procedure demanded by a patient – then you should either swallow your conscience or leave the practice of medicine.

But perhaps it would be more accurate to say that most Democrats have a blind spot when it comes to their own agenda. Certainly abortion, stem cell research and end-of-life care are morally-loaded areas of medicine. To pretend otherwise is to be willfully ignorant. With ObamaCare being imposed on the nation, we will witness many more cases in which bureaucrats force their own version of “evidence-based medicine” on patients – pretending that it is science, and not a political agenda, which drives the choices they make over the lives of powerless Americans.

Idaho Democrats are certainly driving a moral agenda, politically-stained though it may be. In truth, they have convinced themselves that abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide are “moral goods” and have no qualms about using the brute force of government to run over anyone who disagrees with them.

Were these people granted the same kind of power now enjoyed by their national brethren, doctors and nurses and pharmacists would become mere employees of their radical agenda, built upon a sad embrace of death.

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Posted in Guest Posts, Idaho Pro-Life Issues | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: Economic Literacy and the Political Spectrum

June 15th, 2010 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

Minimum wage laws raise unemployment. Restrictions on housing development make housing less affordable. Rent control leads to housing shortages. Overall, the standard of living is higher today than it was 30 years ago.

These were some of the statements nearly 5,000 American adults were asked to respond to by pollsters in 2008. Daniel Klein, who conducted the poll for Zogby, reported the results in the Wall Street Journal this week.

Respondents were given eight statements, all of which are empirically indubitable in real world economics. The other statements were: Mandatory licensing of professional services increases the prices of those services; A company with the largest market share is a monopoly. Empirically false statements were: Third World workers working for American companies overseas are being exploited, and Free trade leads to unemployment.

For each of the eight statements, respondents were given five choices, whether they strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, strongly disagree or are not sure. The Zogby researchers, rather than requiring the exactly right answer, only marked as erroneous the most incorrect response. Thereby, instead of having a 20% chance of selecting the correct answer, they only had a 20% chance of making the most incorrect response.

Respondents were also asked how they self-identify themselves politically. The options were, from left to right on the political spectrum, progressive/very liberal; liberal; moderate; conservative; very conservative; and libertarian.

The conclusions are enlightening, but not surprising considering the regulatory and fiscal mindset of the ruling Washington crowd. According to Klein, “The left flunks Econ 101.” Explaining the results, Klein states, “How did the six ideological groups do overall? Here they are, best to worst, with an average number of incorrect responses from 0 to 8: Very conservative, 1.30; Libertarian, 1.38; Conservative, 1.67; Moderate, 3.67; Liberal, 4.69; Progressive/very liberal, 5.26.”

Klein summarizes, “Americans in the first three categories do reasonably well. But the left has trouble squaring economic thinking with their political psychology, morals and aesthetics.” In other words, just because we wish it were so, doesn’t mean that it is. For example, we may wish that raising the minimum wage doesn’t have an impact on joblessness, but it does, especially with minorities and teenagers wanting to enter the workforce.

Did level of education make a difference in the results? Klein said it did not. “We work with three levels of schooling: (1) high school or less; (2) some college (but not a degree); (3) a college degree or more. In our data, economic enlightenment is not correlated with going to college.” That should be extremely disturbing to economics instructors. Makes you wonder if they’re teaching more ideology than economic fact.

Ronald Reagan once said, “It isn’t that liberals are ignorant, it is just that they know so much that isn’t true.” The results of this study seem to validate Reagan’s sentiment. We all have opinions, which may be more or less substantiated by empirical data. Sometimes our opinions are diametrically opposed to reality. Economic principles, once they are proven to be incorrect, should logically be abandoned by any sentient person.

Regrettably, ideology and politics often get in the way of facts, and equivocation of results are explained away as anomalies rather than correct economic principles. We see this played out daily by the Washington power elite, where different results are expected from the same actions, contrary to proven theory. They are proving their incompetence and calling into question their sanity. Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Polls always have subjective elements which can tarnish the outcome. Sometimes there’s an agenda incorporated into the statements or questions of a poll that are being engineered by the pollsters to achieve a desired outcome. While that could be the case with this study, the results clearly manifest a deficiency in economic education by the left end of the political spectrum. The deficiency is not only incorrectly recognizing what works and doesn’t work, but an inability to separate fact from what their ideology dictates.

Sometimes our perspective on economic theory is tainted by the supposed good that would be done if the theory was true. Especially in this age of over-regulation, over-taxation, and over-spending, we must learn to divorce invalid economic assumptions from our desire for them to be correct. There is a cost for everything, and the cost always should be justified by a desired outcome. We simply cannot afford a spending and regulatory wish list because of good intentions. Reality and proven economic principles must be our foundation, especially since Washington seems bereft of them.

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Posted in Guest Posts, Politics in General | No Comments »

David Ripley: Charlie Crist – The Paragon of Shallow

June 14th, 2010 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

Florida Governor Charlie Crist has managed, in just a matter of months, to transform himself from a serious contender for the White House to the national symbol of all that is evil and broken in American politics.

While battling the rising star, Marco Rubio, for the Republican nomination to serve Florida in the US Senate, Crist protested that conservatives were misrepresenting his values and record. He cried that some voters didn’t appreciate his pro-Life values and commitment to upholding the principles of the Republican Platform. Smelling a rat in the soup, voters turned increasingly to Rubio as a man they could trust to do what he said he would.

The more Crist protested, the more powerful Washington, D.C. power brokers pushed, the lower Crist’s numbers fell.

Idahoans were probably more surprised by Crist’s departure from the Republican Party than were Floridians. They had the advantage of hands-on experience, and many opportunities to see the shallow self-centeredness which drives Charlie Crist.

Too many politicians, of course, are driven by ambition and a need to feel valuable. This is a large factor in many of our current problems.

But Governor Crist’s recent veto of pro-Life legislation sets him apart as a man worthy of particular public scorn.

Late last week, Crist vetoed legislation which would have required abortionists to inform mothers that they had a right to view an ultrasound of their baby prior to an abortion. This is similar to an Idaho law enacted a couple of sessions ago. Such laws have proven their effectiveness in reducing abortions in state after state.

Moreover, the legislation Crist vetoed contained a provision to prevent tax-payer funding of abortions in Florida under the new ObamaCare regime.

After selling out the Republican Party, which nursed his immense ego for many years, Crist apparently found it no big problem to use preborn children as mere poker chips in his sordid effort to retain public power. After all, now his independent bid for the Senate requires pandering to pro-choice Democrats; it took just a few clicks of his mouse to delete any references on his website to his previously “adamant” pro-Life value system.

His complete disregard for the defenseless babies he would now help destroy is just despicable. In our view, he has now come to personally define the lowest form of office seeker.

May the Lord intervene to prevent his cynical evil from being rewarded this fall. And may the voters of Florida repay him for his faithlessness with banishment from the public square.

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Posted in Guest Posts, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, Politics in General | No Comments »

David Ripley: Science Confirms Mystery of God’s Creation

June 8th, 2010 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

The London Times reports on a new medical study finding that babies as young as 6 months old demonstrate moral discernment. The research comes out of Yale University’s Infant Cognition Center.

One of the tests used involved an animated film, in which different colored geometric objects were depicted as trying to get up a hill. Other objects were shown pushing the yellow square back down, while others were pictured as helping push the yellow object toward its objective. 6 month old babies were then asked to pick out the “good” objects and “bad” objects. In 80% of the cases, babies chose the objects shown as helping the other up the hill.

Professor Paul Bloom said his research contradicted the assumptions of leading psychologists like Freud and William James who believed moral impulses were social contraptions imposed late in life.

“There is growing evidence that supports the idea that perhaps some sense of good and evil is bred in the bone,” Bloom is quoted as saying.

Indeed. What does the Bible say?

“I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts….” (Jeremiah 31:33)

But will such scientific research, suggesting that we are sentient, moral beings from the moment of our conception, make any difference to ideologues like Elena Kagan?

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Posted in Guest Posts, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, Presidential Politics | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: Let’s Turn Off the Big Government Spigot!

June 7th, 2010 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

The alacrity for government spending illustrated by the self-purportedly educated elite in this country displays alarming naiveté and ignorance on fiscal matters. A recent column in the Journal provided a superb example.

While walking around his neighborhood almost impishly marveling at the public parks, the roads, and his ability to dial 911 for assistance, a Journal columnist rhetorically questioned, “I am lost! I love what the government does for me. Would someone please tell me where to seriously reduce government spending?”

As my adorable 3-year-old granddaughter Addisyn would say, “Are you kidding me?” Let’s start by turning off the spigot! If your basement is being flooded due to a broken pipe, you don’t start bailing out the water, you first turn off the source and then turn your attention to reducing the water level.

Since this administration took power less than 1½ years ago, the Federal Budget has ballooned by over 60%. The yearly deficit has more than quadrupled to $1.2 trillion. The federal debt has grown from $11 trillion to over $13 trillion, and with all the Obama spending promises, that debt will burgeon to $23 trillion in the next ten years, according to the Government Accountability Office. Current debt amounts to $42,000 per American, and over $118,000 per taxpayer.

And what do we have to show for all that “wonderful” government spending? A jobless rate hovering around 10%, which Obama promised us wouldn’t go over 8% if the “stimulus” was passed, and a horrible job outlook for the foreseeable future. We have an economy that is statistically out of recession, but the recession mentality is alive and well.

The private sector, meantime, refuses to hire new workers not only because of the moribund economy, but because Obama and his facilitators in the Congress have essentially declared an all-out war on the private sector and the regulatory environment is at enmity with economic growth. Obamacare has led to the write-down of billions of dollars by American companies, including $1 billion by AT&T alone. Congress’ penchant for regulation increases the costs of operation for small businesses and large businesses alike, further hampering economic recovery and shooting job creation prospects in the foot.

The heralded financial reform recently passed by congress amounts to little more than government control of the financial sector, which banks have already said will impact their bottom line by another 20%. And you thought your bank fees were high before? Where do you think they make up that lost revenue? You pay it!

Gratefully the Idaho Constitution prohibits deficit spending, otherwise, judging from the clamor in the public sector, our lawmakers would have been pressured into doing what California, New York, and other states have been doing: maxing out the state credit cards pushing them to the brink of financial ruin.

That’s precisely what Obama and his congressional minions are doing. But the laws of fiscal restraint that apply to the rest of us don’t seem to apply to them. If we max out a credit card, not only are we unable to charge any more on it, but we eventually have to pay off the debt accrued by our imprudent and insatiable appetite for spending. Congress, however, can just increase their own spending limits, and continue to charge away.

If we as individuals do the same thing as Washington is doing these days, we’re irresponsible. Yet to the statists in our midst, our politicians are to be praised for all that wonderful government spending they do. Which begs the question: why are we held to a higher standard of fiscal responsibility and accountability with our own money than they are with someone else’s?

Margaret Thatcher, former British Prime Minister once said, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” While arguments abound as to whether government takeover of the auto industry, the student loan industry, the health care industry, and the financial services sector constitute socialism, the mentality is more than evident. And who can argue that the politicians in Washington are spending other people’s money? Ours, our children’s, and our grandchildren’s!

The president said a few months ago, “It would be a terrible mistake to borrow against our children’s future to pay our way today….” Yet that’s exactly what he’s doing! Didn’t Bernie Madoff just go to prison for doing the same thing? The president is committing multigenerational larceny and funding a federal government Ponzi scheme.

Congress has to be recomposed with members who aren’t so cavalier about spending without regard to the ultimate multigenerational cost. Somehow they need their limitless credit cards taken away to prevent them from bankrupting the country. Let’s turn off the spigot, and then we can talk about reducing the $45 trillion in unfunded entitlements, and odious debt they’ve run up.

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Posted in Guest Posts, Politics in General, Presidential Politics | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: A Memorial Day Challenge

June 1st, 2010 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

Memorial Day, that “holy day” when we commemorate the ultimate sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform for our liberty, is so much more than a picnic, or a weekend getaway. It is a day of reflection for those sacrifices made by so many, that hundreds of millions may enjoy even a modicum of freedom and liberty today.

It is a day to pause from the daily grind and celebrate the lives, and even the deaths, of those who have perpetuated this Republic, this One Nation Under God. It is a day to reassess our own convictions to the principles that those who have worn the uniform of our young nation were willing to sacrifice their own lives in order to preserve the legacy of liberty from one generation to another. The torch of Madam Liberty has been successfully passed from the earliest generations of Americans to those who yet wear the uniform. And to them we owe our all.

There is nothing we can do which can repay those who have so sacrificed that we might be free, but everything we do does count in some small way. Abraham Lincoln put into proper perspective what we do to celebrate the lives of those who have been willing to pay the uttermost farthing for our freedom. “In a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

The Civil War has long since ended, yet the veracity of Lincoln’s statement rings equally true today as it did 150 years ago. We cannot hallow the ground where our brave have fallen. They consecrated it with their blood and their lives. And not only the ground fought over during our Civil War, but around the globe where we have fought to prevent expansion of Godless, liberty destroying communism, the fiendish tyranny of dictators and freedom-trampling totalitarians around the world.

Regardless of the circumstances and the politics involved in their deployment, our service men and women have answered the call for the preservation and expansion of liberty. Regardless of the illogical orders of engagement often negotiated by civilian leaders, the uniformed have answered the call and done so with courage, honor, and humanity.

The few historical examples of impropriety by a few within those noble ranks do not tarnish the sacrifice and service of the many, but rather provide testament to the noble character of those who serve. That over so many years, there would be so few exceptions, validates the service and sacrifice of those millions who have worn the uniform with dignity, respect, and honor.

Unlike great nations in the past who have expanded their borders and their domain by unrighteous wielding of their military might, this nation seeks only enough ground to bury those who have fallen in battle for the liberty of those nations. We are not an imperial power, but a power which seeks to neutralize the nefarious forces which seek conquest and subjugation for aggrandizing purposes.

Ronald Reagan declared, “Let us make a vow to our dead. Let us show them by our actions that we understand what they died for. Strengthened by their courage, heartened by their valor, and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died.” As a reminder of liberty’s fragility, he also said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.”

May we as Americans collectively rise up in valor equal to the conviction of those who have hallowed many lands with their blood, and stand against foes, foreign and domestic, who seek to curtail and abridge our freedom. May we adopt as our personal motto that of the Marines, “Semper Fidelis,” and be likewise ever faithful to those Constitutional principles that so many have given the ultimate sacrifice to preserve.

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Posted in Guest Posts, National Sovereignty, Politics in General | No Comments »

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