10 Things I Hate About Taxes #4: Privacy and Personal Income

This entry is part 4 of 12 in the series Ten Things I Hate About Taxes

This is the fourth article in a series on taxation leading up to Tax Day, April 15.


The Fourth Amendment (IV) of the Bill of Rights says:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

I read this amendment as saying that the only time “reasonable search” of my possessions – which includes information about me as well – can occur is when a warrant has been issued with probable cause. All other searches I am free to reject, for any reason whatsoever.

So how can the government claim the right to require me by force to give up information about my income?

If you don’t believe that, well then… the Ninth Amendment (IX) says:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

The language here is a bit tricky, but stick with me… The word “enumeration” according to Dictionary.com means, “To count off or name one by one; [to] list.” So we should read this as, “Yo, America, you know those rights specifically listed? That’s not all, everything else is yours too.” In other words, your rights are assumed, not given by the government.

Let’s ask again, what right does the government have to my income, or even the information about my income? Constitutionally, the government does not have the right to force information about my income from me.

Of course, this didn’t stop Congress from trying on various occasions, and it didn’t stop them from passing the Sixteenth Amendment (XVI):

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

Notice the wording at the end, “without regard to… enumeration.” So essentially, Congress at the time understood that the Constitution forbid them from doing this very thing. It was embedded in the Fourth and Ninth Amendments that this this right belongs to us, and yet no longer.

What happens when the Constitution is now inconsistent with itself? Do we really have a right to privacy, or not?

Or am I wrong to interpret the Constitution in this way? No wonder the repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment is so high on Ron Paul’s to-do list. If Congress has the power to repeal rights with the stroke of a pen, we are steps away from tyranny. Perhaps we are already there…


Thanks to Greg at The Holy Cause for inspiring part of this article.

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