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Browns Say No To Taxes; Historians Say Yes

WMUR | June 25, 2007

Comment: As the Browns have pointed out many many times, not a penny of the income tax goes towards the ammenities cited in this article by the so called "expert", it goes to a private cartel.

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Convicted tax evaders Ed and Elaine Brown say there's no law requiring them to pay taxes. Scholars say their arguments are frivolous and misguided.

It's unlikely the Browns -- holed up in their fortress-like home and defying federal officials -- or their supporters will be swayed.

"They never passed (the 16th Amendment)," said Brendan Kelly, chairman of the New Hampshire Libertarian Party. "They just said they did."

Kelly and like-minded protesters said the tax-creating 16th Amendment wasn't actually ratified, thus income taxes aren't part of any law.

"This is when it started," he said. "They started the Federal Reserve Bank and all this nonsense that stole freedom from the country."

The Browns had hoped to win their case using that theory, but it did not serve them. They were convicted and sentenced to more than five years in prison for failing to pay their income taxes. They have since fled to their Plainfield home, which Ed Brown describes as a castle. Their cause has rallied anti-government and militia activists to their 110-acre home.

"The bottom line is: Show us the law, we will pay what you ask," Ed Brown told reporters invited to a news conference at his home last week. "They can't do it, folks."

Legal scholars and historians say they can.

"This has been adjudicated at the U.S. Supreme Court level, and they're the ones that in fact decide whether the laws are constitutional, and they've decided that in fact the 16th Amendment is constitutional," said Michael York, the state's librarian.

Stephen Black, a professor at Franklin Pierce Law Center and an expert in tax law, said the Browns' arguments aren't valid.

"The fact is, we live together as a country," Black said. "There are costs that we the people have agreed to via our representatives, and we have to pay those somehow."

Nobody likes paying taxes, "but if we're going to have an army to protect us, if we're going to have freeways to go in between states, if we're going to have Homeland Security, if we're going to have the Food and Drug Administration, which makes sure the milk I drink is pasteurized, then each of us has to come up with our fair share, whatever that fair share has to be," Black said.

The Browns and their supporters maintain the 16th Amendment is false. They say not enough states ratified it, those that did ratified different versions, and Ohio wasn't technically a state when it voted.

"They didn't have Xerox machines. They had to copy things by hand," Black said, explaining the minor differences among versions adopted.

Anti-tax activists cite Ohio as one of its reasons to blast the 16th Amendment. Ohio wasn't technically a state until 1953 although it was accepted into the union 150 years earlier. But York notes that even without Ohio, the amendment still had enough states' support.

"When I counted them up, there were 42. They needed 36," he said.


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