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August 11, 1996

Making Cents: No Basis for an Argument

Among the bogus pitches tax protesters make against the federal income tax is that wages are not taxable because people have a "basis" in their labor (analogous to basis in an asset like a house). When they "sell" their labor for fair market wages, the argument goes, it is an equal trade and there is no gain to be taxed. But courts have held quite clearly that an individual's basis in his or her own labor is zero.

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