By: Matt Issent

America: Freedom to Fascism (2006), a documentary produced and staring Arron Russo, who previously produced Trading Places (1983) with Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy. Russo takes on the IRS and whether citizens are legally obligated to pay the federal income tax and the Supreme Court’s ruling that the IRS is unconstitutional.

The documentary begins with a quote by George Orwell and transitions to “I set out on a journey to make a film about whether or not there was a law requiring Americans to pay an income tax… or was the tax a fraud being perpetrated by the American government.” The film begins by discussing the 16th amendment on whether it was actually ratified and whether it allows the government to impose an income tax. As well as the formation of the Federal Reserve System that benefits wealthy bankers when the U.S. had the power already to print and issue currency.

Several arguments are made that taxes have to be appropriated and not direct like the federal income tax is. The documentary features numerous prominent officials from the Internal Revenue Service, politicians, and tax experts. The first IRS Agent interviewed is John Turner who resigned from the IRS after being unable to find a law that “requires you to file a tax return” and had not filed a 1040 since leaving.

Russo then goes to D.C. to see the We the People Foundation file a class action lawsuit against the IRS to have the IRS show the law requiring tax payers to file a 1040 or pay an income tax on their labor. Assemblyman Phil Hart (R-Idaho) states “you can’t identify a law that law that requires an average person in America who earns a wage and works in private business to pay income tax.” Several people that are presented as tax and law experts state that the 16th amendment “did not impose any new taxes.”

Russo then meets with the former commissioner of the IRS Sheldon Cohen and has a very passionate discussion with him. Russo points to the IRS tax code that states it is “voluntary compliance” not mandatory to file taxes. Former commissioner Sheldon Cohen then makes a “false equivalency,” by comparing stopping for a red light as voluntary compliance. During this interview Russo states that income is not defined within the IRS tax code and that income stated in the constitution only relates to corporate gains not wages, which is back by Edwin Vieira, a Professor on Constitutional Law. Arron Russo elaborates that the 1040 tax filing document violates their 5th amendment to bear witness against one’s self, claiming that if incorrectly filed the 1040 tax form you can be punished for doing so.

In a separate section of this documentary Peter Gibbons a Tax Attorney states that the Supreme Court ruled that ‘your’ labor is your private property and that it is an exchange for wages and other forms of property, citing Coppage v. Kansas, 236 U.S. 1, 14 (1914). This documentary pokes fun at people who believe that the federal income tax pays for their roads (gasoline tax), schools (property tax), community services, and other government provided services. The truth of the matter is that the federal income tax goes towards the national debt which at the time of writing this article is over $21 trillion dollars ( this unpayable debt does not include derivatives that according to the New York Times in 2008 amounts to $280 trillion held by U.S. banks.

Russo also raises the question “how did the government fund itself before 1913 prior to the enactment of the current federal income tax system?” People who are asked this questioned are very perplexed and take a minute to contemplate how this was feasible if they believe that federal income tax pays for government provided services.

Native Americans even though live in their own sovereign nations within the U.S. States are required to pay federal income tax as they are U.S. citizens and can participate in federal elections but are typically disenfranchised in state and local elections with high Native American populations like New Mexico, Arizona and Oklahoma.

Ignoring the fact that the U.S. national debt is laughably impossible to pay as it amounts to over $64,000 per citizen it brings up an even funnier question of can’t the U.S. go bankrupt with this much debt or how much debt would cause the U.S. to go bankrupt? Simply the U.S. can’t go bankrupt, the national debt will continue to skyrocket with no end in sight and the politicians will still have a performance in political theater as to whether to fund the government in the latest spending bill or will they have another ‘government shut down’ .

I highly recommend this documentary for several reasons. One being that the movie is available online for free on your favorite video hosting platform. Secondly it raises many questions to why we need the federal income tax in the first place and why do lower courts ignore the Supreme Court’s ruling the 16th amendment did not allow for the creation of a new tax. Take some time to learn more about the federal income tax and what the arguments are against it.


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