Income Tax Turns 100: An Invitation to its Funeral

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By Ralph Benko

July 12, 2009, is the 100th anniversary of Congress's passage of the 16th Amendment (the Income Tax) to the U.S. Constitution. It is becoming the focus of a movement calling for its REPEAL.

The Left recognizes and seizes upon the power of narrative. They know how to take a few sweating polar bears and melting glaciers to create an emotionally compelling story. Rank and file citizens (and the media) respond more readily to stories that are personalized and dramatized than to statistics. Reagan got this, but the Right -- and especially the online Right -- has been slow to deploy the power of narrative.

John Hanson, an old Cajun FAIR Tax activist gets it. He is using the Web offer a Declaration of July 12th as a National Day of Mourning and demand for REPEAL of the 16th Amendment and has created, together with web guru Richard Michael, which is steadily garnering signatures, over 1000 so far.

Hanson holds that "there are many ways that the Internal Revenue Code has come to corrupt our politics, deform our society, and erode our civil liberties. One of the ones I am most passionate about is the effect on our churches. Many priests, pastors, and other men and women of the cloth -- and the Church's lay leadership -- are very intimidated by a fear of IRS investigation, by a fear of losing their tax exempt status and, consequently, really being ... closed down.

This is likely to get worse. President Obama nominated, for assistant attorney general, Dawn Johnsen, who has argued publicly that the government should strip the Catholic Church and other religious denominations of their tax exempt status because of their pro-life advocacy.

Everyone has heard the story of Paul Revere's midnight ride. The lights that alerted him to the coming of the Redcoats were hung in the steeple of North Church in Boston! Much of the political discourse that led to the revolution took place from the pulpits of churches! It was the Rev. Martin Luther King, speaking from the pulpit of Ebenezer Baptist Church -- and courageous pastors across America -- that proved to be the prime organizing engine of the Civil Rights Movement!

Could such things happen today, with so many congregations cowed by fear of IRS investigation? I fear not.

Hanson recently established declaring that "We hereby pledge ourselves to the REPEAL of the 16th Amendment to the United States Constitution and to demand the same from our political, policy, social, business, labor, academic, religious and cultural leaders."Anyone can sign.

He favors the FAIR Tax, which replaces the federal income tax with a national sales tax -- with a healthy rebate for working families, taxing consumption of amenities and luxuries but not necessities--and, not incidentally, getting the government out of our liberties. The FAIR Tax has been around for a while. It has not caught on as a grass-roots movement. Hanson aims to change that, peaceably but forcefully.

The Declaration is open even to those who are agnostic about the FAIR Tax. It simply demands repeal of the federal income tax amendment, and if it works, will incite a national conversation about what should replace it.

The Web, with its end-to-end architecture, hates arbitrary power. Will Hanson enroll the millions required to overthrow the 16th? He offers a narrative to the furious tea partiers, a way to amplify their energy, giving it strategy and a translation point. Will this prove the cause celebrethat precipitates the Right's

Ralph Benko is the author of The Websters' Dictionary: How to Use the Web to Transform the World (The Websters' Press, 2008; also available as a free eBook from This article also appeared at