A new slay-the-monster-by-remote-control-and-without-any-messy-confrontations silver-bullet fantasy appears to be on the market, assuring the gullible that they can be permanently immunized against the "income" tax by some clever procedure invoked just once-- for a fee, of course.
I am not willing to fork over any money in order to learn the details of any version of this ridiculous proposition, and so can only speculate, but I'm guessing that the purveyors of these "plans" exploit the unfortunately pervasive erroneous notion that fundamental liability for the "income" tax is citizenship or residency based, and suggest that some process by which something about one's citizenship or residency can be entered into the official record, after which one will be presumed "non-taxable". If my understanding is incorrect, I will welcome being illuminated to the contrary, but in the meantime, it is this notion that I will address here (and in any event, all varieties of "tax immunity" fantasy would be revealed as nonsense by the same general reasoning that will suit this one.)
That the tax is an excise, based not on citizenship or residency per se, but solely on engaging in taxable activities, is so well documented and broadly disseminated as to require no reiteration. In light of that fact, citizenship and/or residency-related misunderstandings must involve the mistaken notion that only citizens or residents of some particular kind can engage in the activities taxed, or, to put it another way, that the tax only applies to the activities of such particular persons. However, this is simply not true. The tax applies to ANYONE who engages in the activities taxed, no matter what may be their citizenship, residency or location; ANYONE of ANY citizenship, residency or location is capable of engaging in those activities and being consequently liable for a tax; and at least the minimal tax-related protocols-- such as the need to rebut or otherwise respond to allegations made by another of having engaged in such activities-- are inescapable when such allegations are made and sworn to, other than by one whose person and property are entirely outside of the physical reach of the taxing entity. (The converse is also true, of course: The earnings or receipts of ANYONE which are not derived from the exercise of a federal power, privilege or prerogative are NOT subject to the tax, regardless of citizenship, residency or location.)
The imposition of the tax clearly extends to those resident in the "United States" and those who are citizens thereof, AND to those who are neither, as well. The statutes reflected at 26 USC § 1 imposes the tax upon the "taxable income" of every individual. Period. "Taxable income" is "gross income" less allowable deductions, etc.. Period. "Gross income" includes "income" of all kinds and from any source whatsoever. Period. No distinctions are drawn in these statutes as a whole as to residency or citizenship, other than the specification that the "income" of non-resident aliens is taxed under special rules (which arise due to considerations of tax treaties generally providing that recipients of "income" in, and from within, foreign jurisdictions will be taxed by, and per the tax structure of, the foreign jurisdiction).
The manner in which those special rules are presented and organized in the statutes is complex and elaborate, but a concise rendering of certain of those provisions, sufficient for purposes of this discussion, can be found by looking at 26 CFR § 1.1-1, 26 USC § 871(b), and a couple of the regulations related to 26 USC § 871(b):
(Beyond the straightforward provisions of the law, such as are presented above, it is obvious that if the application of the tax relied upon "citizenship" or "residency", it would actually be a tax on one or both of those CONDITIONS-- the amount of which would be measured by economic activity (in whatever fashion and to whatever extent the taxing authority preferred)-- rather than a tax on an activity or activities. Such a tax would hardly qualify as an "excise"; but it would certainly qualify as a capitation...)
In sum, the tax applies to "U.S. citizens", those who are NOT "U.S. Citizens" but are resident within the "United States", and those who are not "U.S. citizens" and ARE NOT resident within the "United States". The common denominator is the receipt of "income"-- a profit from the exercise of federal privilege or property.
Thus, regardless of what assertions may be entered into some record today, if at any time in the future one is alleged to have engaged in a taxable activity, the allegation will be accorded standing until responded to, for there is no prior citizen or residency assertion that could establish one as incapable of owing "income" taxes (nor any other assertion that could do so). One can no more immunize oneself against a future allegation of a tax liability than one can do so against a future lawsuit, or indictment. (And this would remain true even if the tax WERE status-based. Nothing that could be done in advance could pre-empt a future assertion, presumption or implication that one's status had since changed to the "taxable" variety...)
As always, clear thinking and accurate understanding are reliant on good practices of research and reasoning. I recently corresponded with someone arguing the theory that the applicability of the income tax hinged on "U.S. citizenship". My interlocutor was relying on a snippet from a court's decision in a 1982 case in which the court makes the statement, "Unless the defendant can establish that he is not a citizen of the United States, the IRS possesses authority to attempt to determine his federal tax liability." The case is U.S. v. Slater 545 Fed Supp. 179, (D. Delaware) (1982). This is read as the equivalent of, "Unless the IRS can prove that Slater is a citizen, it possesses no authority to attempt to determine his federal tax liability." But this is not at all what is being said (and the regulations quoted above showing that the tax applies to citizens, resident aliens and non-resident aliens alike make clear by themselves that to say such a thing would have been wrong, even had the court meant it this way).
This excerpting from Slater is a good example of customizing data to fit a theory. Left out of the excerpt is what the Slater court says just preceding this snippet: "Slater's protestations to the effect that he derives no benefit from the United States government have no bearing on his legal obligation to pay income taxes." This is followed by a citation to a 1924 Supreme Court case (Cook v. Tait, 265 U.S. 47). Cook had protested, like Slater, that he shouldn't be deemed liable even for a tax on his "income" because, living abroad, he derived no benefit from the government the tax would go to support. The court ruled that this was not a good argument, "[B]ased on the presumption that government, by its very nature, benefits the citizen and his property wherever found..."
The Supreme Court's reasoning in Cook is pretty disturbing, frankly (containing a "government as sovereign" aspect unsuited to a proper American perspective). But it is NOT an argument that the tax applies because, or only because, of citizenship. Nor is the ruling of the Slater court.
Both of these rulings merely dismiss arguments that
one is not liable for taxes unless one enjoys a perceived benefit from
paying them by reasoning that all citizens inherently enjoy a
benefit from the state, whether they see it that way or not. Again, a
pretty pernicious view, but also again, not what the "citizenship =
liability" theorist means to be taken from the carefully isolated
snippet of Slater that is presented. (Needless to say, the dismissals of
Slater's and Cook's arguments don't amount to holdings that the
enjoyment of a perceived or asserted general benefit from the mere
existence of the state causes or supports tax liability. The proposition
is absurd, and in any case was neither asserted nor argued in these
cases. Slater and Cook were both alleged to have tax liabilities based
on specific allegations of their receipt of "income".)
Comments Regarding Other Misunderstandings Of The Law