bill of rights

THE BILL OF RIGHTS, EFFECTIVE DECEMBER 15, 1791

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III

No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Amendment VII

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Lights out! We set up a time lapse camera to record how 100 kids and parents got comfortable for the good night in the Rotunda for our first-ever Archives Sleepover. (Hint: inflatable mattresses make a marble floor more bearable.)

The case in the middle contains the Constitution, while the Declaration of Independence to the left and the Bill of Rights is on the right.

Do you want to sleep next to the Constitution? You can sign up for the newsletter from the Foundation for the National Archives or email sleepover@archivesfoundation.org to be alerted if we have another sleepover!

For more photos (at the ground level) from the sleepover, check out our Flickr stream at archivesnews.

npr.org
Rewrite The Constitution? Several States Are Trying To
Even though there's a clause permitting a constitutional convention, one has not been held since the original convention in Philadelphia in 1787.

Since the Bill of Rights, there have been just 17 changes to the U.S. Constitution.

On Thursday, Tennessee’s House of Representatives voted 59-31 to call for a constitutional convention, becoming the fifth state in recent months where lawmakers have called for a major rewrite of the Constitution.

Formally, the vote is a resolution calling for a “convention of the states” to propose new amendments to the Constitution. They’re making use of a clause in Article V. That language gives states the power to call a constitutional convention — just like the one that took place in Philadelphia more than 200 years ago.

Know Your Rights - 5th Amendment

As many of you probably know yesterday it was 224 years since the ratification of the U.S Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights is the collective name for the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution, so this week I want to talk about some of the 10 amendments, so you could (maybe) learn about your rights a little bit more, since the law is being violated in our country quite a lot these days. Today’s topic is the 5th Amendment.

For starters, here’s the original text of the Amendment.

I’ve gotta be honest, it’s one of the most common situations in which authorities abuse the law and in most cases these rights are taken away from people of color. So It’s highly important for PoC to know this very well, if not by heart, not be afraid to report cases of the 5th Amendment’s violation.

You have the right to remain silent!

You have the right to terminate an encounter with a police officer unless you are being detained under police custody or have been arrested. The general rule is that you don’t have to answer any questions that the police ask you.

However, if you are being detained/arrested, please do not ever forget about Miranda’s warning (which is a “preventive criminal procedure rule that law enforcement are required to administer to protect an individual who is in custody and subject to direct questioning or its functional equivalent from a violation of his or her Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination”). You might have heard the first two warnings a lot on movies, but there are more:

There is much more to each of the amendments, with the 5th Amendment not being an exception, but I wanted to emphasize the things that are most important in my opinion. Truly hope this can help someone. 

#FifthAmendment    #KnowYourRights   

Taxpayer Bill of Rights - IRS’ Most Serious Problem

National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) Nina E. Olson’s 2013 annual report to Congress urges the Internal Revenue Service to adopt a comprehensive Taxpayer Bill of Rights, and says IRS budget cuts and training reductions are harming taxpayer service. 

First things first – The NTA’s annual report is prepared by the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) – an independent organization within the IRS.  

The NTA delivers the report to the tax committees in Congress. That means the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Committee on Finance. 

The report does not require a prior review by the IRS Commissioner, Treasury Secretary or the OMB, which makes the NTA a very powerful advocate for taxpayers and for reforming the tax collection process. 

The report has four primary sections – most serious problems, legislative recommendations, most litigated issues, and a second volume that includes the results of TAS research and related studies. 

You can read the full NTA report if you want to read all of it, but the “headlines” are listed below. 

Most Serious Problems:-

- IRS Should Adopt a Taxpayer Bill of Rights

- IRS Budget Cuts Harm Taxpayer Service

- IRS Training Reductions Harm Taxpayer Service

- IRS Employees Lack Education on Taxpayer Rights

- New Approach Needed for Identity Theft Victim Assistance

- Taxpayers are harmed by Lack of Regulation of Return Preparers

- Offshore Voluntary Disclosure (OVD) Pressures Taxpayers Into Paying Disproportionate Penalties

- Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) Could be Bothersome

 Legislative Recommendations:-

- Permanent Repeal of AMT

- Broaden Timeframes for Filing Refund Claims

- Lower Affordability Threshold for Premium Tax Credit

- IRS Should Bear the Burden of Proof Required to Ban Taxpayers From Claiming ETIC for Two Years

- Allow Educational Institutions to Verify Taxpayer Identification Numbers (TINs) with the IRS before filing Tuition Information Reports

 Top 10 Most Litigated Issues of 2013, in descending order are:-

- Accuracy-Related Penalty Under IRC § 6662(b)(1) and (2)

- Trade or Business Expenses Under IRC § 162(a) and Related Code Sections

- Gross income Under IRC § 61 and Related Code Sections

- Summons Enforcement Under IRC §§ 7602(a), 7604(a), and § 7609(a)

- Collection Due Process Hearings Under IRC §§ 6320 and 6330)

- Failure to File Penalty Under IRC § 6651(a)(1), Failure to Pay Penalty Under IRC § 6651(a)(2), and Estimated Tax Penalty Under IRC § 6654

- Charitable Deductions Under IRC §170

- Frivolous Issues Penalty Under IRC § 6673 and Related Appellate-Level Sanctions

- Civil Actions to Enforce Federal Tax Liens or to Subject Property to Payment of Tax Under IRC § 7403

-  Relief from Joint and Several Liability for Spouses Under IRC § 6015

NTA Report to Congress Asks for Taxpayer Bill of Rights Legislation

National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson submitted her annual report to Congress, and the focus this year is on the levels of taxpayer service.

To be specific, the NTA expresses concern that taxpayers this year are likely to receive the worst levels of taxpayer service since at least 2001 when the IRS first instituted the performance measures it has in place now.

Rather than just focus on the drop in levels of service and provide recommendations to improve the situation, the NTA did one better.

The report recommended that Congress should enact a principles-based Taxpayer Bill of Rights that includes a Right to Quality Service, and provide enough funding to make this right a reality.

The NTA has been urging the IRS to adopt a Taxpayer Bill of Rights since 2007, and the IRS finally did so last year.

With the IRS on-board, a principles-based Taxpayer Bill of Rights as part of the tax law is something that the Republican Congress can hardly refuse, considering all that’s happened in the last year.

Sneaking in a Right to Quality Service, which by definition needs adequate funding for the IRS, is a masterstroke on the part of the NTA.

Here’s the magnitude of the problem - The IRS typically receives more than 100 million telephone calls, 10 million letters, and five million visits at its walk-in sites from taxpayers each year.

The best service in recent years was provided in 2004, when the IRS answered 87 percent of calls from taxpayers seeking to speak with an assistor, and hold times averaged 2.5 minutes.

That year, the IRS prepared nearly 500,000 tax returns for taxpayers who requested help, and maintained an outreach and education program that touched an estimated 72 million taxpayers.

By contrast, IRS service expectations for FY 2015 are as follows:

- The IRS is unlikely to answer even half the telephone calls it receives, and levels of service may average as low as 43 percent;

- Those who do manage to get through are expected to wait on hold for 30 minutes on average and considerably longer at peak times;

- Tax return preparation assistance has been eliminated;

- During the filing season, the IRS will not answer any tax-law questions except “basic” ones.  After the filing season, it will not answer any tax-law questions at all.

A lot of this is directly attributable to budget cuts. The IRS’s budget has been reduced by about 17 percent in inflation-adjusted terms just since FY 2010. This has reduced the agency’s workforce by nearly 12,000 employees, with further reductions in the pipeline during FY 2015. 

To make matters worse, the IRS has reduced the amount it spends on employee training since FY 2010 by 83 percent. A shrinking workforce of employees who are now less equipped to do their jobs is obviously going to lead to a steep drop in service levels.

The report notes that Congress passed taxpayer rights legislation in 1988, 1996, and 1998 but has not passed any significant taxpayer rights legislation in the last 16 years. 

“The National Taxpayer Advocate believes the time is right for taxpayer rights legislation,” the report says.  “The passage of time has shown where new protections are needed.  Without providing these specific taxpayer protections, the [Taxpayer Bill of Rights] becomes merely a statement of principles, without any teeth to ensure that these fundamental rights are protected on a daily basis, and that taxpayers have remedies and the IRS is held accountable for any violations of these rights.”

Read the full annual report submitted to Congress by National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson.

Photo credit - taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov

Why You Don’t Have a Right to Vote

The 15th Amendment of the United States Constitution says that your right to vote cannot be taken away on the basis of race. The 19th Amendment says it can’t be abridged on account of sex. The 24th says you can’t have your right to vote taken away for failure to pay a tax. And the 26th says that people 18 years or older cannot have their right to vote abridged on the basis of age. Based on these qualifiers, you might assume that the Constitution guarantees the right to vote—but you would be wrong. Nowhere does the Constitution explicitly do that. Instead, the Constitution leaves it up to individual states to decide who the electorate is, and merely prohibits discrimination based on particular categories.