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Anonymous asked in Business & FinanceTaxesUnited States · 8 years ago

What law says you are required to file a tax return?

1 Answer

  • Anonymous
    8 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    1. Contention: The filing of a tax return is voluntary.

    Some taxpayers assert that they are not required to file federal tax returns because the filing of a tax return is voluntary. Proponents of this contention point to the fact that the IRS itself tells taxpayers in the Form 1040 instruction book that the tax system is voluntary. Additionally, these taxpayers frequently quote Flora v. United States, 362 U.S. 145, 176 (1960), for the proposition that "[o]ur system of taxation is based upon voluntary assessment and payment, not upon distraint."

    The Law: The word “voluntary,” as used in Flora and in IRS publications, refers to our system of allowing taxpayers initially to determine the correct amount of tax and complete the appropriate returns, rather than have the government determine tax for them from the outset. The requirement to file an income tax return is not voluntary and is clearly set forth in sections 6011(a), 6012(a), et seq., and 6072(a) of the Internal Revenue Code. See also Treas. Reg. § 1.6011-1(a).

    Any taxpayer who has received more than a statutorily determined amount of gross income is obligated to file a return. Failure to file a tax return could subject the non-complying individual to criminal penalties, including fines and imprisonment, as well as civil penalties. “[A]lthough Treasury regulations establish voluntary compliance as the general method of income tax collection, Congress gave the Secretary of the Treasury the power to enforce the income tax laws through involuntary collection . . . . The IRS’ efforts to obtain compliance with the tax laws are entirely proper.” United States v. Tedder, 787 F.2d 540, 542 (10th Cir. 1986). The IRS warned taxpayers of the consequences of making this frivolous argument. Rev. Rul. 2007-20, 2007-1 C.B. 863.

    Relevant Case Law:

    Helvering v. Mitchell, 303 U.S. 391, 399 (1938) – the Supreme Court stated that “[i]n assessing income taxes, the Government relies primarily upon the disclosure by the taxpayer of the relevant facts . . . in his annual return. To ensure full and honest disclosure, to discourage fraudulent attempts to evade the tax, Congress imposes [either criminal or civil] sanctions.”

    United States v. Gerads, 999 F.2d 1255, 1256 (8th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1193 (1994) – the court held that “[a]ny assertion that the payment of income taxes is voluntary is without merit.”

    United States v. Tedder, 787 F.2d 540, 542 (10th Cir. 1986) – the court upheld a conviction for willfully failing to file a return, stating that the premise “that the tax system is somehow ‘voluntary’ . . . is incorrect.”

    United States v. Richards, 723 F.2d 646, 648 (8th Cir. 1983) – the court upheld conviction and fines imposed for willfully failing to file tax returns, stating that the claim that filing a tax return is voluntary “was rejected in

    Woods v. Commissioner, 91 T.C. 88, 90 (1988) – the court rejected the claim that reporting income taxes is strictly voluntary, referring to it as a “‘tax protester’ type” argument, and found Woods liable for the penalty for failure to file a return.

    Other Cases:

    United States v. Drefke, 707 F.2d 978, 981 (8th Cir. 1983), cert. denied, Jameson v. United States, 464 U.S. 642 (1983); United States v. Schulz, 529 F.Supp.2d 341 (N.D.N.Y. 2007), aff’d, 517 F.3d 606 (2d Cir. 2008), cert. denied, 555 U.S. 946 (2008); Johnson v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 1999-312, 78 T.C.M. (CCH) 468, 471 (1999), aff’d, 242 F.3d 382 (9th Cir. 2000).

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