Saturday, April 8, 2023

To Young Jobseekers

You will be asked to fill out forms that may not apply to you.  For example, The W-9 form, Part II says "Under penalties of perjury, I certify that... I am a U.S. citizen or other U.S. person (defined below)".  The definition below says "you are considered a U.S. person if you are: An individual who is a U.S. citizen or U.S. resident alien... ."  This probably makes you think that if you live in one of the fifty states, you are being honest when you fill out this form.  But let's look at the relevant law.

What is the relevant law?  They might tell you, but you can double check my assumption that it's Title 26 of the US Code by examining the references to law in the instructions.  I found "or any individual retirement plan as defined in section 7701(a)(37)" on page 4 of Form W-9 (Rev. 10-2018). Sure enough 26 USC 7701(a)(37) defines "individual retirement plan".

26 U.S. Code § 7701(a)(9) says "The term "United States" when used in a geographical sense includes only the States and the District of Columbia."  Sounds good, right?  But check this out:
26 U.S. Code § 7701(a)(10) says "The term "State" shall be construed to include the District of Columbia, where such construction is necessary to carry out provisions of this title."

You'll notice that both of these definitions use "include" (or "includes"), so lets add a third one:
26 U.S. Code § 7701(c) says "The terms "includes" and "including" when used in a definition contained in this title shall not be deemed to exclude other things otherwise within the meaning of the term defined."

"Otherwise" isn't defined, so we can take it to mean "What you have when you remove this part," like it means everywhere and always (except in laws, if there are any, where "otherwise" is given a custom definition).  So if we do that to 7701(a)(9) & (10), we get these:

"The term "United States" when used in a geographical sense includes only the States and the District of Columbia [and does not exclude other things within this definition]."

"The term "State" shall be construed to include the District of Columbia, where such construction is necessary to carry out provisions of this title, [and does not exclude other things within this definition]."

These are both inane, I know, because there aren't any other things within those definitions!  It was written that way to get you to make the mistake of ignoring the definitions.  If we ignore the definitions, we would assume that a "US Person" is a resident or citizen of any of the fifty states.  But the definitions in the law don't list them or describe them in any way.  I think this is because that would be unconstitutional.


If citizens and residents of the fifty states were bound by this internal revenue law, the income tax would be unconstitutional because it would then be a direct unapportioned tax; the income tax revenue from each state is not proportional to that state's population.  Such a direct tax is forbidden in two places in the constitution (Article 1, Section 9, Clause 1, and Article 1, Section 2).  The Sixteenth Amendment didn't repeal the text in either of those places, but rather reversed an earlier Supreme Court decision.  The sixteenth amendment allowed a tax on income generated by property without apportionment even if that property was personally owned.

I know that law tends to be well constructed so that it is understandable, so I did some searching at to better understand the issues discussed above.  Here's what I found:

In Chapter 113C of 18 USC, Part 1 (18 USC 2340), "United States" includes the "several states of the United States."

In ALL of 26 USC, according to 26 USC 7701, "United States", when used in a geographical sense, means "the District of Columbia".  It includes "the States," but "State" must be construed to mean "the District of Columbia" where it is the only way "to carry out provisions of this title". Two things to note here are: 1) The definition of "United States" in title 26 does not use the term "several states" and 2) Article I, Section 9, Clause 4 of the US Constitution forbids the provisions of title 26 from applying if "United States" includes the several states since, the tax is on "wages" which are defined as paid to an "employee" which "includes an officer, employee, or public official of the United States", and if that included people working for any of the "several states," it would be a direct tax.

In chapter 44, "The term “State” includes the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the possessions of the United States (not including the Canal Zone)." In 18 USC 921(a)(2) "The several states" is missing again.  This chapter is about firearms.

18 USC 2331 uses the phrase "of the United States or of any State," suggesting that the same extra text ("or of any State") would be included where necessary for the law to be clear, because "United States" (as we saw before) does not include the several states.

15 USC 1015 defines states using the term "several states."
42 USC 10241 also uses the term "several states."
7 CFR 1205.22 uses the term "50 states" in the definition of "state"
"several states" appears 522 times in the US Code.
Out of the first ten occurrences of "state means" (where "state" is capitalized and quoted), only one includes the several states without using either "50 states" or "several states" or "States of the Union" or "a State of the United States".  That is 42 U.S. Code § 1962c–5, which says this: "“State” means a State, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands or Guam. ..." 7 USC 1359AA also defines "State" using the word "State".  26 USC 7701 does not include "state" in the definition of "state" like 42 USC 1962c-5 does.

Even 26 USC 4482 specifies that "State" means "any state or the District of Columbia" but it's referring to the definition of State for Title 26, which is given at 26 USC 7701.
"The term “State” shall be construed" appears exactly once in all of the laws of the United States, and it is under a definition that applies to the entirety of Title 26.  A search for "state shall be construed" at produces 17 results (on 4/7/2023 at 4:45pm PST), and the one at 7701 is listed. Note that the quotations marks around "state" in the definition didn't have an effect.  All but four of these occurrences are prohibitions against construing.  Those requiring construing include the one at 7701, one in New York code, and two occurrences in the notes for USC 50 3021, one about Indian reservations and the other requiring the inclusion of territories and possessions of the United States in "United States".

I suspect that, as the folks at explain, if you were born in one of the fifty states, you mislead the IRS if you identify yourself as a United States Citizen, because they are using the definition in their controlling code (26 USC), and that would mean you're a citizen of the District of Columbia.  That makes them your landlord because Maryland and Virginia gave that land to them a couple hundred years ago.

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