Why Not Just Abolish the IRS?

While some conservatives are criticizing President Biden for hiring 87,000 new well-armed IRS agents under the guise of fighting inflation, I’ve got a better idea: Let’s just abolish the IRS and, at the same time, end the federal income tax. 

The idea is actually not as radical as it sounds. It certainly wouldn’t have sounded radical to Americans who lived here in the United States from 1776 to 1913. For virtually that entire period of time, Americans lived without federal income taxation and an IRS.

That’s right — for more than a century, Americans were free to keep everything they earned, and there was nothing the federal government could do about it. 

No deductions to keep track of. No income-tax returns to file. No withholding. No IRS to audit, terrorize, and send Americans to jail.

That’s what it once meant to be an American. That’s what it once meant to be free. That’s the freedom that Americans celebrated every Fourth of July.


Our American ancestors understood that when people are free to keep the fruits of their earnings, they are the masters and government officials are the servants. They also understood that once any government gains the power to seize people’s income, the citizens become the servants and government officials become the masters. 

Of course, our American ancestors also rejected the things that the income tax funds — principally, welfare-state programs, regulatory programs, and warfare-state programs. 

For more than 100 years, there was no welfare state. No Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education grants, food stamps, public housing, public schooling, and other socialist programs. Our American ancestors wanted nothing to do with socialism.

There was also no national-security state. No Pentagon, vast military-industrial complex, “defense” industry, CIA, NSA, or FBI. Our American ancestors fiercely opposed “standing armies.” That’s why they instead brought into existence a limited-government republic. 

No foreign wars and foreign interventionism. No coups, invasions, occupations, wars of aggression, foreign military bases, assassinations, torture, sanctions, embargoes, and trade wars.

Hardly any federal regulation of economic activity. No minimum wage. No drug war. No immigration controls.

No fiat (i.e., paper) money. No Federal Reserve. Pursuant to the Constitution, gold and silver were the official money of the American people.

Everything changed in the 20th century. Americans living in that era rejected the founding principles enumerated above and embraced the welfare-state, warfare-state way of life. Ever since, America has been mired in perpetual crisis, not to mention massive death and the destruction of liberty and privacy. Everywhere you look, there is a crisis: fiscal, monetary, education, drug war, foreign policy, immigration, and others.

What better time than now to begin a national examination of where we started as a country and how we have ended up where we are today? What better time to reflect on and ponder the consequences of having abandoned the sound founding principles of our country? It’s the way to get our nation back on the right track — toward life, liberty, prosperity, peace, and harmony with the people of the world. 

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. This commentary was first published by the FFF


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