Fact Check: Requiring Federal Taxes IS Legal

Fact Check

  • by: Marlo Lee

STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.

Fact Check: Requiring Federal Taxes IS Legal Not Illegal

Did a former IRS agent discover that there is no law stating that taxes need to be paid? No, that's not true: The IRS says that paying federal income tax is not voluntary. Section 1 of the Internal Revenue Code says there is a tax on taxable income. The obligation to pay those taxes is in section 6151, which requires taxpayers to submit payment with their tax returns, or face penalties. The 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says Congress has the power to collect taxes on incomes.

The claim appeared in a Facebook post on July 15, 2022. The video has on-screen text saying, "Taxes are Illegal LISTEN TO WHAT THEY ARE SAYING ... RESEARCH THE ACT OF 1871 FEDERAL RESERVE ACT OF 1913." The video opened with:

And to date, nobody has been able to show that there is a law that the average American citizen, working day in and day out, to pay an income tax.

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Screen Shot 2022-07-27 at 10.14.53 AM.png

Facebook screenshot(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Wed Jul 27 15:45:58 2022 UTC)

The IRS discusses claims like this on the agency's "The Truth About Frivolous Arguments" page. Regarding the contention, "Payment of federal income tax is voluntary," the IRS says section 1 of the Internal Revenue Code makes payment mandatory. That section clearly states there is a tax on taxable income of "individuals, estates, and trusts." The explanation continues:

Furthermore, the obligation to pay tax is described in section 6151, which requires taxpayers to submit payment with their tax returns. Failure to pay taxes could subject the non-complying individual to criminal penalties, including fines and imprisonment, as well as civil penalties.

According to Cornell Law School's Legal Information Institute, the Internal Revenue Code is part of the U.S. Code, a compilation of the federal statutes for the U.S. The Legal Information Institute also notes that the 16th Amendment, ratified in 1913, states:

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

Here is another Lead Stories fact check surrounding the legitimacy of paying income taxes to the IRS.


  • 2022-07-28T00:13:04Z 2022-07-28T00:13:04Z
    Headline revised for clarity.

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Marlo Lee is a fact checker at Lead Stories. She is a graduate of Howard University with a B.S. in Biology. Her interest in fact checking started in college, when she realized how important it became in American politics. She lives in Maryland.

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