US laws support income tax collection, despite claims to the contrary

A social media post that claims US laws don’t support income tax collection makes its case using debunked information and features speakers who have been convicted of federal tax crimes.

“To date, no one has been able to demonstrate that there is a law that allows the average American citizen to work day in and day out to pay income tax,” a person identified as Tom Selgas says in a video TikTok shared on July 15 as reel on Facebook. Selgas was sentenced in federal court in 2020 of tax evasion.

The reel was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat fake news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Learn more about our partnership with facebook.)

In fact, US laws on income tax requirements are crystal clear and have been repeatedly upheld by the courts.

“There have always been individuals who argue that taxes are illegal,” says a IRS document titled “Why do I have to pay taxes?”

The document continues, “They use false, misleading, or unorthodox tax advice to gain followers. Courts have repeatedly dismissed their arguments as frivolous and routinely impose penalties for raising such frivolous arguments.”

The The IRS explains the law like this:

  • Article 1, Section 8, Clause 1 of the United States Constitution gives Congress the power to “impose and collect taxes” for the defense and welfare of the United States;

  • The 16th Amendment to the Constitution gave Congress the power to “impose and collect income taxes”;

  • Congress “used the power granted by the Constitution and the Sixteenth Amendment and passed laws requiring all individuals to pay taxes”;

  • Congress has authorized the IRS to administer tax laws, known as the Internal Tax Code, found in Title 26 of the United States Code.

Income tax laws are set out in Division 1 of the Internal Revenue Code, which “clearly imposes a tax on the taxable income of individuals, estates and trusts”, according to the IRS.

A second person featured in the Facebook reel, Sherry Jackson, who is identified as a “former IRS agent”, was sentenced in 2008 to four years in prison for failing to file tax returns.

Our decision

A Facebook reel says: “To date, no one has been able to show that there is a law for the average American citizen working day in and day out to pay income tax.”

US laws regarding income tax requirements are found in the Internal Revenue Code, which is found in Title 26 of the United States Code. The laws have been repeatedly upheld by the courts.

We rate this claim Pants on Fire!

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