Zero Income 1040 Nonsense Again
|Image: L. A. Times|
Sometimes, people declare that one can pay no income tax by filing a 1040 "zero income" form. They buy into buy into all kinds of phony baloney nonsense about being able to just magically say one has "no income" on the 1040 and then not pay income tax any more.
(Important notice: People who really have no income, or income below the threshold set by the law, usually do not file a return at all, as they do not have to. Sometimes they file a legitimate 1040 "zero income" return to "be on the safe side" -- say, if they are students who lived at their parents' home and didn't work that year. I am not talking about them now, of course, but about bogus "zero income" filers.)
The fact that the most famous promoter of this scheme, Irwin Schiff, is now in jail for filing such returns and actually tried to get off from serving jail time by telling the court his claim that 1040 zero returns work is evidence he is legally insane (scroll down to the Feb. 4th post in the link), might get some people to doubt the validity of the 1040 "zero filing" trick.
That, however, is not the subject of this post. My issue is something else: The IRS sometimes ignores the 1040 "zero income" returns and treats them as if the taxpayer didn't file a return at all, and uses a 6020 assessment (the substitute for return where the IRS files an income tax return instead of the taxpayer who didn't) to estimate their tax liability. Well, naturally, the tax deniers scream and holler the IRS is doing wrong. Unconstitutional! Evil!
This argument, I think, shows very well the kind of magical thinking tax protesters love to engage in -- proof, once more, of their childish, silly nature.
|1040 zero-filer fighting the IRS: "You aren't supposed to attack back THAT way, you evil IRS!!! Waaah!!!!" (Image credit: Mirandette's Martial Art Center).|
First, like little kids, they ignore the substance, namely, that a bogus 1040 "zero income" is for all intents and purposes the same as not filing at all, and that it's quite legitimate for the IRS to treat it as such.
Second, again like little kids, they think that they are special -- that only they get to try and bend the rules, while it is evil and unconstitutional for the IRS to call them on it. That is, it is OK for them to attempt fraud by filing a bogus "zero income" return, but it is terribly evil for the IRS to treat the attempted fraud as such. Imagine!
Third, like little kids, they are shocked -- shocked! -- by the fact that this happens. Apparently they truly, really believed they found the magic word that will force the IRS to make them not pay taxes. Did I say, "childish"?
Fourth, they don't realize that -- like the man in the picture -- the IRS is actually doing them a favor by "fighting back the wrong way". By ignoring their nonsense and just assessing liability like they do for other non-filers, the IRS is treating them more leniently than it could -- i.e., it doesn't go after them trying to get a criminal conviciton for filing fraudulent documents (unless, like Schiff, you're a real dick about it.)
The IRS workers just ignore these mental children's magic words, tantrums, and screams, and get on with their work -- much like a parent is not likely to take a kid shooting him with a toy gun as attempted murder. The child is deeply insulted: why doesn't dad take me SERIOUSLY?! Well, count your lucky stars he doesn't, pumpkin.