Many Americans go to extreme lengths to avoid paying income taxes, and some people are willing to break the law by evading their taxes (tax evasion vs. tax avoidance, check it out). One of the ways that people have tried to get the United States income tax nullified is by using what is known as the Ohio argument.

It all started back in 1953 when Ohio was celebrating the 150th anniversary of its admission to the Union. Researchers going over the original documents discovered there had been an oversight, the United States Congress had approved Ohio’s boundaries and constitution, but it did not pass a resolution formally declaring Ohio a state. When this had been revealed, there was naturally a lot of joking about the quality of the people of Ohio and whether those of us in the United States should let them in now.

Ohio congressman George Bender, suddenly finding himself representing a state that technically didn’t exist, introduced a bill to admit Ohio to the Union retroactive to March 1, 1803, the day everyone thought that they had been let in. The Ohio state legislature also approved a new petition for statehood that was later delivered to Washington, D.C. on horseback. Bender’s bill passed through Congress and was eventually signed by President Eisenhower on August 7, 1953. It looked like everything was going to be OK for the people of Ohio and the stability of the Union.

But then the tax resistors got to work on their argument. The United States federal income tax was instituted by the addition of Amendment XVI to the Constitution. Amendment XVI was introduced and ratified under the administration of President William Howard Taft. Taft had been born in Ohio, but since it wasn’t a state, he couldn’t have been a natural-born citizen of the United States. Since this is a requirement in order to become POTUS, Taft’s presidency should be nullified. (Presumably this would have also cancelled out the presidencies of Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Benjamin Harrison, McKinley and Harding.) Since the Taft presidency now doesn’t count, then the 16th Amendment shouldn’t count either.

Wait a minute. George Bender’s resolution established Ohio statehood retroactively, so then Taft should count, right? Ah, but Article 1 of the Constitution specifically states that “No...ex post facto law shall be passed”, so the resolution cannot be allowed either. Thusly, we do not have to pay federal income taxes.

Pretty cool, eh? Unfortunately it’s total bullshit.

The Ohio argument can be refuted point by point:

  1. The ban on ex post facto laws only applies to criminal matters. I know the Constitution doesn’t specifically say that, but this has been established case law for some time.
  2. Persons born in U.S. territories – not just states – are also counted as natural-born citizens. So Taft still fit the qualifications for being president.
  3. Ohio was still a state even without Bender’s resolution. The statehood admission process was pretty informal back in 1803 and a formal Congressional resolution of admittance wasn’t specifically required. Congress approved the boundaries and the state constitution, what else do you want?
  4. So pay up, Jack!

Dammit! Now where did I put that 1040 form…

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