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Income Tax Myths

"You don't have to pay income taxes until they are assessed."

Some people argue that you don't have to pay income taxes until they are assessed. According to this argument, most people make the mistake of assessing themselves by filing a tax return. If you just stopped doing this, the argument goes, you wouldn't have to pay income taxes.

This argument is directly refuted by statute. Section 6151 of the tax code, 26 U.S.C. 6151, specifically provides that:

26 U.S.C. 6151

[W]hen a return of tax is required under this title or regulations, the person required to make such return shall, without assessment or notice and demand from the Secretary, pay such tax . . . .

So there is plainly no requirement that you be assessed for income taxes before being obliged to pay them.