Definitions are extremely important. The tax code uses a lot of language about wages, employees, “trade or business”, and they all have very specific definitions. But there is one that is huge red flag.
Before I tell you what it is, I want you to understand that definitions have a real bearing on what the law means, and why words are defined. The US constitution has a lot of words in it. The supreme court interprets what those words mean. If congress wants to change the meaning of the constitution, there is a very complex amendment process they have to go through. But imagine if they could bypass that by simply redefining those words. The supreme court would not take those into consideration when interpreting the constitution, because the authors of the constitution made it clear that to change the constitution, or the meaning of it, congress would have to go through an amendment process.
In the constitution, the words “United States” and “State” are used frequently, and their meaning is well established within the context of the constitution. When the constitution refers to a state, it means places like Texas, California and New York and it does not mean places like Puerto Rico or Guam.
But in certain places in federal law, the term “United States” is defined to include Puerto Rico and Guam. In Title 8, for example, which is the code about immigration, it says:
8 USC § 1101 (a) (38) The term “United States”, except as otherwise specifically herein provided, when used in a geographical sense, means the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands of the United States, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
This is precluded by a statement “As used in this chapter-“, which doesn’t include all of the laws on immigration. Almost every title of federal law includes a definition of the “United States”, and while many are the same, many are not. Why do they do this? Why doesn’t all federal law just agree on one term? Because of jurisdiction. The constitution might allow the federal government to apply one law to Puerto Rico, but not another.
Let’s look back at the tax code in Title 26.
26 USC § 7701 (a)(9) The term “United States” when used in a geographical sense includes only the States and the District of Columbia.https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26/7701
At first look, this sounds like it would include all 50 states and DC. But what’s strange about Title 26 is that they also define “State”.
26 USC § 7701 (a)(10) The term “State” shall be construed to include the District of Columbia, where such construction is necessary to carry out provisions of this title.https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26/7701
So when it says “the states and DC”, it is not including places like Texas, California or New York.
In case you think I’m just reading into that wrong, let’s look at a few different titles of Federal law and how they define a state:
Agriculture: 7 U.S. Code § 4802 (15) The term “State” means each of the 50 States.https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/7/4802
Commerce and Trade: 15 USC §3002 (2)“State” means each State of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and any territory or possession of the United States;https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/28/3002
Conservation: 16 USC 8202 (11) The term “State” means each of the several States, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the United States Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia.https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/16/8202
Something that lawmakers are very skilled at is hiding things in plain sight. The truth is that the constitution has limited the federal government in many ways, and congress has done everything they can to get around that. Sometimes they do a bad job and laws are struck down as unconstitutional. In this case, the supreme court has struck down direct income taxes, and in the Brushaber case, the supreme court said that the income tax is an excise, not a direct tax, even considering the 16th amendment.
People trading labor for money is not an excise which the federal government can tax.
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