No Taxation Without Consent, by: Phil Hart

No Taxation Without Our Consent

by Phil Hart

Once you give it a little thought, one should conclude that a self-governing people must consent to their own taxes. After all, what do conquered people do? They pay tribute to their conquerers. Self governing people don't pay tribute, as they consent to their own taxation.

Today in America, what tax is it that takes the largest bite out of the typical American's wallet? What tax is it that is the most invasive? What tax is it that incarcerates more Americans than any other tax? It is the income tax! Did we consent to this tax, or are we paying tribute as conquered people do?

The answer to this question is both yes and no. Yes, we consented to an indirect income tax on the net income from business and on the net income from investment. (However, this assumes that the 16th Amendment was ratified, which is doubtful.) The amount of such income is determined by subtracting from the gross revenue all business expenses, depreciation, taxes, interest payments, etc., and then severing that income from the underlying asset that produced the income in the first place. Producing taxable net income is kind of like producing wine. There is an intricate process one must go through to get the final result, and there are some good years and bad years.

But the answer to the “consent question” is also no. The American People never consented to a direct tax on our wages and salaries. Call it an income tax, call it a capitation tax, call it whatever you want to call it, the American People never consented to a direct tax exempted from the apportionment rule required by the Constitution for direct taxes.

In order to understand the dynamics of this question, we must realize that some income taxes are direct, while other income taxes are indirect. The issue is actually quite simple. A direct tax is direct. The tax falls directly on the person or the thing taxed. The one who is obligated to pay such a tax is not in a position to shift it to another.

On the contrary, an indirect tax may either be avoided or shifted to another. A trucking company shifts the excise tax on fuel to the customer who ships his product by way of the trucking company. The excise tax on cigarettes is avoided by choosing not to smoke. How is the wage earner going to shift the taxes deducted out of his paycheck to another? He can't. Therefore, the tax imposed directly by the government on the wage earner is a direct tax.

The idea that a free people would be taxed without their consent defies all logic. It simply can't be true. From the beginning of recorded history people have paid taxes without their consent to their conquering masters. Today Americans are paying an income tax on their wages and salaries to which they never consented to. The saddest part about this state of affairs is that the American people are unaware of this fact. Thomas Jefferson was right when he said, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was and never will be.”

The remainder of this article is actually a segment out of a Petition for Writ of Certiorari filed with the Supreme Court on June 21, 2002. This section covers pages 12 thru 17 of the Petition. The case is Philip Lewis Hart v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue. As of this date, the case has not been given a docket number. The Petition was limited to 30 pages, which is extremely short when considering that the Internal Revenue Code and supporting regulations are approximately some 20,000 pages. One can not do justice to such a complex subject in only 30 pages. The following section is excerpted from the Petition:

II. No tax may be imposed on the American People without their consent.

In the Declaration of Independence, one of the Grievances against King George III listed by the American Colonists was, 'For imposing taxes on us without our consent.' The Declaration of Independence further states, “That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

This Court has previously ruled that those Grievances listed in the Declaration of Independence provide a foundation as to the purpose of the American government and also the boundaries as to its power. The Declaration of Independence is America's Great Charter; the Constitution is America's by-laws. Government has only that power for which the People have consented to delegate to it.

The idea that taxes may not be levied unless the People consent to them dates back 800 years to another great charter, that of the Magna Carta of 1215. King John, a disorganized ruler, had just suffered an expensive and humiliating defeat by losing Normandy to the French. He desperately needed money and was pressing all in his kingdom with higher taxes.

“Magna Carta was the culmination of a protest against the arbitrary rule of King John, who was using governmental powers which had been established by the great builders of the English nation, William the Conqueror, Henry I, and Henry II, for selfish and tyrannical purposes. In general these abuses took the pattern of increasing customary feudal obligations and decreasing established feudal rights and privileges. The Barons were forced to pay higher taxes above the usual rate... The merchants of London were burdened with heavy taxes... In addition, John's administration was disorganized and inefficient, and he employed unscrupulous foreign adventurers as royal officers and as sheriffs and bailiffs in every county of the land.” Perry, Richard L.; Cooper, John C., Sources of Our Liberties , 1-2 (William S. Hein & Co., Buffalo, New York, 1991).

The requirement that taxes cannot be levied unless the people consent to them appears in Magna Carta at chapters 12 and 14. But Magna Carta itself was a result of not only abusive and unjust taxation, but also taxation that was in violation of the Charter of Liberties of King Henry I. Henry I became king in 1100 A.D. when his brother, King William, was removed from the throne because of “unjust exactions.”

Unfortunately it is the habit of government to exceed its lawful boundaries and by 1297 the administration of Edward I was levying taxes in violation of Magna Carta. The abuses were serious. In August of 1297, while the barons were formally presenting their grievances to the king, they were also arming and preparing for revolution. Revolution was avoided when on November 5, 1297, King Edward signed Confirmatio Cartarum.

“The events leading up to Confirmatio Cartarum, like those which led up to Magna Carta, show that the king's violation of established laws oppressed the community as a whole and caused the barons and the clergy to unite in demanding the observance of the law. As was also true of Magna Carta, this oppression often took the form of illegal and unreasonable taxation.

Confirmatio Cartarum has had two principal effects upon the development of the liberties of the citizen. First it established Parliament as a truly representative organ of government by providing in Section 6 that the taxes must be raised by the common assent of the realm. The imposition of direct taxes without the consent of the people's representatives in Parliament was now against the very letter of the law.” Perry; Cooper, supra at 24-6.

The principle that government must have the consent of the People before levying any tax showed up on the American continent in 1618 with the Ordinances for Virginia. “The governor should not be allowed to levy taxes on the colony without the consent of the assembly.” Perry, Cooper, supra at 50.

The Petition of Right of 1628 was yet another attempt by the English people to compel the administration of Charles I to obey the law. Again, one of the abuses was taxation without the consent of the governed. At Section X the document states, “That no man hereafter be compelled to make or yield any gift, loan, benevolence, tax or such-like charge, without common consent by act of Parliament.”

The Charter of Massachusetts Bay of 1629 provided for taxation only when consented to by the assembly of freemen. So did the Charter of Maryland of 1632. Other colonies declared that the colonists had all the rights of Englishmen and that Magna Carta and all subsequent documents that secured those rights applied to the freemen of the colonies including the Bill of Rights of 1689.

The Bill of Rights of 1689 was the culmination of a revolution that took place in England which overthrew James II. Again, one of the major abuses of the absolute rule of James II was illegal and abusive taxation. The preamble and forth clause of the 1689 Bill of Rights states, “WHEREAS the late King James the Second, by the assistance of divers, evil counsellors, judges, and ministers employed by him, did endeavour to subvert and extirpate the protestant religion, and the laws and liberties of this kingdom... 4. By levying money for and to the use of the crown, by pretence of prerogative, for other time, and in other manner, than the same was granted by parliament.”

The remedy provided by the Bill of Rights of 1689 was that taxes could not be levied except, “4. That levying money for or to the use of the crown, by pretence or perogative, without the grant of parliament, for longer time, on in other manner than the same is or shall be granted, is illegal.”

Back on the American continent was the Resolutions of the Stamp Act Congress of 1765. American Colonists objected to the Stamp Act as it imposed taxes on them without their consent. “John Adams denounced the Stamp Act as a violation of Magna Carta.” Perry; Cooper, supra at 10.

Various colonial assemblies passed resolutions condemning the Stamp Act. The Virginia House of Burgesses was the first. Four of seven resolutions offered by Patrick Henry were passed including number 1 and number 3 below:

“(1) That the first settlers of Virginia brought with them all the liberties, privileges, franchises, and immunities of British subjects; (3) that under the British constitution taxes could be levied only by the people or their representatives.”

Most of the other colonies passed varying degrees of the Henry resolutions. They also called for a congress of representatives to meet in New York and condemn the Stamp Act. Nine of the colonies sent representatives to the congress.

“There was little difference of opinion as to the fundamental questions involved... Resolutions 2 thru 8 expressed the constitutional theory of the colonists that all taxation... without the consent of the people's representatives was illegal... 'No nation ought to be taxed against its own consent. England had passed through many a year of civil war in defence of the proposition'” Perry; Cooper, supra at 266-7.

The actual text of the Resolutions of the Stamp Act Congress of October 19, 1765 stated:

“2d. That his majesty's liege subjects in these colonies are entitled to all the inherent rights and privileges of his natural born subjects within the kingdom of Great Britain,

3d. That it is inseparably essential to the freedom of a people, and the undoubted rights of Englishmen, that no taxes should be imposed on them, but with their own consent, given personally, or by their representatives.”

Likewise the Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress of 1774 contained similar language about the necessity of consent for taxation. Additionally, Sir William Blackstone wrote in his Commentaries on the Laws of England,

“No subject of England can be constrained to pay any aids or taxes, even for the defence of the realm or the support of government, but such as are imposed by his own consent, or that of his representatives in parliament... And as this fundamental law had been shamefully evaded under many succeeding princes, by compulsive loans, and benevolences extorted without a real and voluntary consent, it was made an article in the petition of right.” Book I, p. 140 (1st edition, 1765).

This principle was memorialized in the Declaration of Independence. This is one of the great principles upon which the entire system of self government rests: The consent of the governed must be given to the taxes they must pay. When this principle is not in place, self government does not exist. Tyranny exists in its place.

The Commissioner claims that his authority to collect the tax in the instant case comes from the Sixteenth Amendment. As part of the Constitution, the Sixteenth Amendment must be interpreted using the everyday language and common dictionaries of the time. There are no “words of art” or “terms of art” in the Constitution, as it is We the People who determine what the Constitution means or doesn't mean. We the People don't speak using “words of art.” We the People just use everyday language. Therefore the consent for the scope of the meaning of the Sixteenth Amendment is vested in the People, and that meaning will be plain for anyone to see once the evidence has been examined.

An exhaustive review of the Congressional Record during the time of the debates on the Sixteenth Amendment reveals no credible evidence that the members of Congress were contemplating a direct tax on the wages and salaries of the American People. An exhaustive review of other congressional documents during the ratification process yields no evidence that Congress contemplated using the Sixteenth Amendment as a vehicle to place an unapportioned direct tax on the wages and salaries of the American People.

An exhaustive review of law journal articles of the time produced no articles that indicated Congress or the American People were contemplating a nonapportioned direct tax on the wages and salaries of the American People. No evidence was found in the journals on political economy and economics. Nor was any such evidence discovered in an exhaustive search of New York Times articles, which are all cataloged in yearbooks as the New York Times is a New York Times articles, which are all cataloged in yearbooks as the New York Times is a “newspaper of record.”

As there is no evidence that can be found anywhere indicating that the American People sought to place an unapportioned direct tax on their wages and salaries, we can conclude that the American People never consented to the very tax that the Commissioner is attempting to collect in the instant case [Hart v. Commissioner].

The entire weight of evidence as to the purpose of the Sixteenth Amendment indicates that its objective was to place income taxes on net income from unincorporated business and investment into the classification of indirect taxes. Pollock was overturned by the 16th Amendment. No more and no less. The purpose of the Sixteenth Amendment was to shift the tax burden off of consumption and onto incomes from the accumulated wealth of the country such as to bring tax relief to wage earners.

Since the signing of Magna Carta 800 years ago, it has been a well established principle of self-government among the English speaking people that the people must consent to their taxes. According to author R.L. Perry in Sources of Our Liberties:

“The liberties of the American citizen depend upon the existence of established and known rules of law limiting the authority and discretion of men wielding the power of government. Magna Carta announced the rule of law; this was its great contribution. It is this characteristic which has provided throughout the years the foundation on which has come to rest the entire structure of Anglo-American constitutional liberties.” supra at 1.

That Magna Carta and all subsequent documents that secured our liberties are relevant to the American Citizen today is born out by the fact that the single monument on the meadow of Runnymede, between Windsor and Staines, commemorating Magna Carta was designed, paid for and erected by the American Bar Association. The American People never consented to this unapportioned direct tax on their wages and salaries. Therefore the Commissioner is wholly without any delegated authority whatsoever to collect such a tax within the several States.


Mr. Hart is the author of a 428 page book entitled "Constitutional Income: Do You Have Any?" In this book, author Hart defines the term "constitutional income" and in the process proves that wages and salaries are without this definition. A complete copy of the Petition and its Appendix can be purchased for $35. A copy of the book can be purchased for $25. Prices include shipping. As a combo the price is $55, shipping included. To order by credit card visit If ordering by check or money order, send payment to: Alpine Press, 1324 N. Liberty Lake Road, PMB 145, Liberty Lake, Washington 99019.

If you think Mr. Hart's argument has merit, please write a letter to the Justices of the Supreme Court and tell them so. Insist that they hear the case. Remember, they work for you. (Supreme Court of the United States, #1 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20543). Your financial help is also needed in pursuing this litigation.

Mr. Hart is also a 2002 candidate for the Idaho Legislature. Donations to the litigation or to his campaign can be sent to Phil Hart c/o Alpine Press.

Article 1: The Purpose of the Sixteenth Amendment
Article 2: Taxes on Wages and Salaries are Direct
Article 3: No Taxation without Our Consent
Article 4: There is no Exception to the Apportionment Rule

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