This post is a continuation to my recent post: “The Internal Revenue Code does not explicitly define “citizen”, “citizenship” or require “citizenship-based taxation“.
That post received a comment which included:
Your statement that the IRC does not explicitly define citizenship is technically correct. It is also misleading. When the IRC was codified in 1939, the Secretary of Treasury was given an order to issue all needful regulations. That mandate is now found at 26 USC 7805. The needful regulation of the Secretary, Treasury Regulation, 26 CFR 1.1-1(c) explicitly defines citizenship in terms of the 14th Amendment and it included the term subject. 26 CFR 1.1-1(a) explicitly states that the tax imposed by section 1 of the IRC imposes the tax on citizens and residents. It does not list any other type, class or category of person upon the tax may be imposed by force.
In the original post I had demonstrated why taxation based on “citizenship” was a reasonable inference from Sections 1 and 2 of the Internal Revenue Code. The basic reasoning from Sections 1 and 2 of the Internal Revenue (without consideration of outside sources) is reflected in the following syllogism:
- All individuals with the exception of non-resident aliens are subject to U.S. taxation.
- Citizens are individuals who are NOT “nonresident aliens”
Therefore, citizens are subject to taxation.
Nevertheless, the comment raises a very interesting question. To put it simply the question is:
Could U.S. Treasury/IRS by regulation exempt Americans abroad from U.S. taxation?
The purpose of this post is to explore this very interesting question. Let’s work with the information in the comment.
1. S. 7085 of the Internal Revenue Code gives U.S. Treasury the authority to make regulations to implement the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code.
Except where such authority is expressly given by this title to any person other than an officer or employee of the Treasury Department, the Secretary shall prescribe all needful rules and regulations for the enforcement of this title, including all rules and regulations as may be necessary by reason of any alteration of law in relation to internal revenue.
2. The regulation made to interpret S. 7085 of the Internal Revenue Code is:
§ 1.1-1 Income tax on individuals.
(a) General rule.
(1) Section 1 of the Code imposes an income tax on the income of every individual who is a citizen or resident of the United States and, to the extent provided by section 871(b) or 877(b), on the income of a nonresident alien individual. …
(JR Note: This does NOT say ONLY “citizen or resident”, but okay.)
(b) Citizens or residents of the United States liable to tax. In general, all citizens of the United States, wherever resident, and all resident alien individuals are liable to the income taxes imposed by the Code whether the income is received from sources within or without the United States. …
(c) Who is a citizen. Every person born or naturalized in the United States and subject to its jurisdiction is a citizen. For other rules governing the acquisition of citizenship, see chapters 1 and 2 of title III of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1401-1459). For rules governing loss of citizenship, see sections 349 to 357, inclusive, of such Act (8 U.S.C. 1481-1489), Schneider v. Rusk, (1964) 377 U.S. 163, and Rev. Rul. 70-506, C.B. 1970-2, 1. For rules pertaining to persons who are nationals but not citizens at birth, e.g., a person born in American Samoa, see section 308 of such Act (8 U.S.C. 1408). For special rules applicable to certain expatriates who have lost citizenship with a principal purpose of avoiding certain taxes, see section 877. A foreigner who has filed his declaration of intention of becoming a citizen but who has not yet been admitted to citizenship by a final order of a naturalization court is an alien.
All well and good, what might this mean? Why might this be helpful?
A Possible Conclusion
In the above regulation Treasury appears to have restricted the meaning and scope of the word “individual” to “citizen or resident”. For example a U.S. National is clearly an individual who is NOT a citizen. (Confirmed by S. C of the above regulation “For rules pertaining to persons who are nationals but not citizens at birth“). Yet, in this regulation Treasury appears to have excluded “nationals”, who clearly are “individuals”, from payment of the income taxes imposed in Subtitle A of Title 26. Yet, U.S. “nationals” are clearly “individuals”.
Put it another way:
In this Treasury regulation, Treasury is excluding at least one class of “individuals” (“nationals”) from the Income Tax. If Treasury can exclude one class of persons from the meaning of “individuals” for the purposes of S. 1 of the Internal Revenue Code, then why can’t it exclude another class of individuals?
I nominate Americans abroad as a class of “individuals” that Treasury could ALSO exempt from taxation under Subtitle A of Title 26 (the income tax).
To put it another way:
Could “taxation-based citizenship” be abolished by Treasury/IRS regulation? This seems like a simple argument. Why has this argument not been made before?
In the last two Obama budgets, the White House has recognized the injustice of imposing “U.S. taxation” on certain “accidental Americans“. If Treasury believes it can define “individuals” in a way that excludes certain “individuals” from U.S. Income tax, then why not let the Obama government solve this problem through regulation (which he loves doing anyway) rather than waiting for Congress to change the law (at best as part of major tax reform) or through the Alliance For The Defeat of Citizenship Taxation lawsuit.
A question for President Obama and Democrats who have caused all the problems:
Cook v. Tait just means that the U.S. had (at least in 1924) the constitutional right to impose citizenship-based taxation. This does not mean that the U.S. is required to have citizenship-based taxation.
How about abolishing citizenship-based taxation through regulation?
With the stroke of a pen you could solve this problem—that is if you want to!