In 1984 William J. Benson of South Holland, Illinois, began an investigation of
the process of ratification of the 16th Amendment, to determine if the amendment
had been lawfully made a part of the constitution. To undertake such a task, never
before performed, required the review of all documents stored in various state archives,
state law libraries, legislative libraries and offices of the secretaries of states,
clerks of the houses and secretaries to the senates, that related to the method
by which the States in the American Union in 1913 allegedly approved the amendment
as a part of the constitution. Undaunted by the enormity of such a research project,
Bill spent virtually the entire year traveling to the state capitols to find dusty
old records regarding the actions of the states taken to adopt the amendment. This
was an arduous task that Bill had been well trained for during his years as an investigator
with the Illinois Department of Revenue.
The federal government rests its authority to collect income tax on the 16th Amendment
to the U.S. Constitution—the federal income tax amendment—which was
allegedly ratified in 1913. In 1895, the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that a similar
federal income tax act adopted in 1894 was unconstitutional. This deprived the federal
government of a potential source of tax revenue. In 1909, the 16th Amendment was
proposed by Congress to circumvent that decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. By 1913,
the process of ratification of the amendment was claimed to have been completed.
Because of the existence of this amendment, the federal government lays claim to
the power to collect this tax from all of us.
Starting in January 1984, Bill went first to the capitols of the New England states
and performed his investigative research, using the journals of the various state
legislative bodies to find out how these states acted upon the proposal by Congress
to amend the U.S. Constitution to permit a federal income tax law. After review
of these records, he began to see that serious problems existed as to whether these
states had legally ratified the same amendment which had been proposed by Congress.
When examination of the records of about 20 states showed that many had not ratified
the amendment and that information regarding the action taken by these States had
been sent to the U.S. Secretary of State, he determined that records in Washington,
D.C. most probably existed to prove the point.
In August 1984, Bill traveled to Washington, D.C. to research the historical records
in the National Archives. After several days of pursuing fruitless leads, he finally
found a book that had contained within it all federal records which had been prepared
during the process of amending the Constitution by the 16th Amendment. This proved
to be an exceptional discovery because those documents revealed that a man named
Philander Chase Knox, the Secretary of State in 1913, was fully aware that the amendment
had not been ratified nonetheless. See Bill Benson's Golden
Key. After making this important discovery, Bill decideded it was essential
that he also study the records of all other states which the federal government
claimed had ratified the amendment.
In September 1984, Bill started investigating the remainder of the states and completed
the project on December 1984. When this year long project was finished at the end
of 1984, Bill knew that not a single state had actually and legally ratified the
proposal to amend the Constitution in the manner required by law. Such a conclusion
obviously meant that the federal government lacked the power to legally impose and
collect the federal income tax. See defects tabulated in Defects
in Ratification of the 16th Amendment.
To demonstrate the merits of this argument, an examination of the evidence uncovered
by Bill is essential. The federal government claims that the State of Kentucky was
the second state to ratify the amendment, such action taking place on February 8,
1910. But, the records of the State of Kentucky reveal a far different picture.
These records show that the Kentucky House proposed a resolution to adopt the amendment
and then sent that resolution to the Senate in early February 1910. On February
8, 1910, the Kentucky Senate voted upon that resolution, but rejected it by a vote
of 9 in favor and 22 opposed. The Kentucky Senate never did ratify that amendment,
but federal officials, being in possession of documents showing this rejection,
fraudulently claimed otherwise.
A second interesting situation involves the State of Oklahoma. Here, this proposed
amendment was passed by the Oklahoma House and the language of the resolution perfectly
matched the one passed by Congress. However, the Oklahoma Senate obviously disliked
what Congress had proposed, so it amended the language of the 16th Amendment in
such a fashion as to have a precisely opposite meaning. After all was settled and
done in Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Legislature wanted an amendment which meant something
entirely different than that which was proposed by Congress.
What happened in California reveals a comedy of errors. That legislative assembly
never recorded any vote upon any proposal to adopt the amendment proposed by Congress.
However, assuming that a nonexistent vote was taken, whatever California did adopt
bore no resemblance to what Congress had proposed. And many states engaged in the
unauthorized activity of amending the language of the amendment proposed by congress,
a power that these states did not possess.
The State of Minnesota sent nothing to the Secretary of State in Washington, but
this did not deter Philander Knox as he claimed that Minnesota ratified the amendment
regardless of the absence of any documentation from the State of Minnesota.
Article V of the U.S. Constitution controls the amending process, which requires
that three-fourths of the States ratify any amendment proposed by Congress. In 1913,
there were 48 States in the American Union, so to adopt any amendment required the
affirmative act of 36 states. In February 1913, Knox issued a proclamation claiming
that 38 states had ratified the amendment, including Kentucky, California and Oklahoma.
But, as previously shown, Kentucky had rejected the amendment, California had not
voted on it and Oklahoma wanted something entirely different. If just these 3 states
are excluded from the court of those which ratified, then the amendment was not
legally adopted, the number of ratifying States being only 35. But, then again,
a total of 11 states failed to vote on the amendment, 33 changed the language of
the amendment and Minnesota sent in nothing. If the process of the adoption of the
amendment is subjected to strict legal scrutiny the amendment was adopted by none.
Today, the federal government pretends that it has all encompassing power to tax
the income of everyone and that the only way to change this system is to vote for
congressmen who promise to modify or, even more unlikely, to repeal these laws.
The American public needs to be apprised that another alternative exists and that
it is entirely possible to challenge the very foundation of this taxing power upon
the grounds that the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was never adopted.
This challenge can be effectively made by exercising your rights under the First
Amendment to the United States Constitution.