Opinion

Abolishing The IRS Is Impossible? The Surprising Reason Why Koskinen Is Right

Alan Keyes Former Assistant Secretary of State

Newsmax reported recently:

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said on Tuesday that calls for the elimination of his agency are just “politics,” and he joked that a name change might be one solution for IRS critics.  “You can call them something other than the IRS if that made you feel better,” Koskinen told reporters on Tuesday after a speech at the National Press Club.

Sometimes, reason can be a harsh taskmaster. There may be no feature of the corruptly anti-constitutional administration of government in the United States today that I find more objectionable than the income tax. In a series of blog articles I wrote in 2009 I detailed an agenda for change that would start to restore the constitutional liberty of the American people, as opposed to Obama’s tyrannical push for changes intended to destroy it. Abolishing the income tax was the first item on that agenda.

Particularly at the national level, income taxation contradicts the very existence of constitutional self-government — of, by and for the people. In Federalist No. 79 Hamilton accurately observes that “in the general course of human nature, a power over a man’s subsistence amounts to a power over his will.”

The income tax gives government the authority preemptively to take control of a percentage of everyone’s income, as determined by the government. So think this question through: In principle, then, how much of their income does the government control? The answer: All of it.

Since the purported ratification of the 16th Amendment, those wielding government power have increasingly acted as if every cent of the nation’s income belongs to the government, which then decides how much of it an individual will be at liberty to spend as he chooses. Like my enslaved ancestors, such an individual no longer has the right, as President Lincoln put it, to “eat the bread, without leave of anybody else, which his own hand earns.” Before it even comes into their possession, wage-earners are forced to hand over whatever the government demands.

And what is even more degrading, they are:

  1. Forced to co-operate in this expropriation of their money by “volunteering” sworn testimony as to the nature and amount of their earnings. They are then in the position of being “guilty until proven innocent” of crimes like perjury or tax evasion if and when discrepancies are alleged between their sworn testimony and government procured evidence inconsistent with it.

  2. They are supposed to be grateful to the government for whatever is left to them of their earnings, and to reward the politicians responsible for “giving” them a tax break.

The imposition of the national income tax thus reduces people to the status of slaves while deceitfully depriving them of a constitutional right (Amendment 5: no person “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.”) fundamental to due process of law in the United States. No wonder politicians seeking to win the support of liberty-minded constitutional conservatives look for ways to beat up on the IRS. Inwardly I want to say “more power to them,” and leave it at that.

But when he suggests that the slogan “Abolish the IRS” is laughable political posturing, Commissioner Koskinen is plainly stating the obvious truth. Some conservatives who understand the anti-constitutional nature of the income tax regime may hear it as “Abolish the Income Tax”, but the two slogans are emphatically not the same.

I discussed the difference at some length in a blog post I wrote about a year ago around the time of the 2014 CPAC gathering.   In the context of answering someone who asked me what I thought of Senator Ted Cruz I replied, “It’s hard to judge. I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.” (Since Sen. Cruz recently launched his campaign for the GOP Presidential nomination the article just mentioned is worth revisiting.) I then wrote:

Senator Cruz gave a good sounding speech, with more than a few conservative push-button phrases. They included the fresh-frozen red-meat mantra “Abolish the IRS”, … When I saw it quoted from Cruz’s speech, I can’t say that the other shoe dropped, but I was led to wish I had a private eye at the window, to check out whether what I heard was perhaps the gentler pat of a softly falling slipper.

You see, that slogan has all the earmarks of carefully thought out deception. The IRS stands factually convicted of rampant “partisan” abuses (I hedge the word “partisan” since the opposition between the so-called major parties is these days a self-evident sham). So “Abolish the IRS” resounds with the promise of strenuous remedies for Washington’s ripe and rife corruption of power.  The IRS bin does indeed seem chock full of noisome fruit.  And there’s Ted Cruz, promising to cut off the branch from which it hangs. What boldness! What courage! What emphatically empty posturing!

If Senator Cruz doesn’t mean to abolish the Federal income tax, then he means to keep it in some form.  But that raises a raft of questions that someone sincerely interested in the nation’s prosperity has to answer, one way or another.  Even aside from that, however, it raises another more or less obvious (depending on the audience) question: If we keep the Federal income tax, won’t there have to be a Federal agency to administer it? If so, isn’t the slogan “Abolish the IRS” more than a little bit deceitful?

That last point is exactly what IRS Commissioner Koskinen recently had to say. And as far as it goes, reason requires that I agree with him. Like so much of the empty rhetoric the GOP employs these days to gull conservatives, the notion that we can functionally abolish the IRS, while keeping the income tax, is simply a lie. As Alexander Hamilton would tell us, if you want the tax you must have some means to impose it. To which I would add, if you truly wished to abolish the national income tax, because it’s deeply anti-libertarian and anti-constitutional, you would say so and offer the sound, common sense reasoning that helps rally people to the abolitionist cause. You would also think through and promote an alternative that’s consistent with constitutional liberty, like the “fair tax”.


Anyone unwilling to take these steps reveals their true allegiance. Control of the nation’s income gives the elitist faction’s would-be-tyrants unconstrained power over the people, power they are utterly unwilling to surrender. The current corrupt twin party sham would politically starve to death without the national income tax. The phony “Abolish the IRS” slogan allows them to go on usurping control of people’s income, while exploiting and devouring the political will (votes) of those who make it. For the elitist faction quislings it’s the perfect ploy. But why would any sincere adherent of constitutional liberty waste precious time and energy supporting politicians who deploy it?