Income tax not unconstitutional, MN Supreme Court affirms

Terrance Sargent has struck out in his bid to get the Minnesota income tax declared unconstitutional.

The Minnesota Supreme Court didn’t even hold oral arguments in Sargent’s case against Minnesota’s revenue commissioner before upholding the tax on wages.

Sargent, of Waseca County, didn’t pay his income taxes in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 and in 2016 the state put a lien on him.

Sargent argued that there’s no law giving Minnesota the authority to tax people’s wages and that the tax violates his right to earn a living.

The arguments are without merit, Supreme Court Justice David Lillehaug declared, writing for the court in its decision.

“It is well settled that a state has the authority to tax income,” he said.

He’s right. It’s right there in words and everything.

“Sargent urges that a failed proposal by the Legislature in 1932 to amend the Minnesota Constitution to provide for an income tax is evidence that the tax is unconstitutional. This contention is meritless,” he said.

“It is elementary that the power of taxation is inherent in sovereignty and that under our system of government it reposes in the Legislature, except as it is limited by the state or the national Constitution,” he concluded.

  • Jeff

    Well it would have been sad if it went the other way and we found out we wasted all our money on taxes supporting roads, schools, parks, universities, etc.

    • …. and the court system.

      • Jeff

        I forgot the stadiums too.

        • Jack

          For the sovereign nation folks I remind them it also pays for the 911 services. Most people wouldn’t hesitate to call 911 when in a life or death situation.

          • Jeff

            That’s fine as long as I get to watch rich guys risk brain injury on Sundays.

      • jon


        Which is why the judges all should have recused themselves from the case, since that money paid in taxes goes to pay their salary.

        Proposed updated headline: “Big government finds big government can do whatever it wants.”

        I think it’s grounds for a mistrial… (which is why no one would ever appoint me to a judgeship… that and my limited understanding of the law, and a promise to make all judicial rulings based on the role of a die… it was a pretty terrible platform I ran on for that judge position, but in my defense I didn’t think anyone would research my platform for a judicial election…)


  • Rob

    MNSCT deciding this case without an oral argument? Doesn’t sound very taxing to me…

  • Mike Worcester

    Is it unusual for the Dept of Revenue to take six years to catch up to someone who has not paid their state income taxes? I miss one payment on my car loan and the hounds are unleashed…

    • Erik Petersen

      One can not file for a few years, and then have a couple more years to make it right before the DoR really delivers the pain if you ignore them.

      This guy is still probably never gone to jail. He is broke though and will never not be now.

    • Cat Eldridge

      It depends on where his income was coming from. If he was self-employed as some sort of contractor that means he likely filed all such paperwork himself which means he could escape being noticed until something brought him to their notice, ie a client listed him as an expense on tax paperwork they filed.

      If he’d been employed as a staffer by a company that did FICA and such, it’s extremely unlikely this would happen.

  • KTFoley

    I trace this to the individuals who travel around giving seminars claiming there’s no law requiring people to pay income tax.

    People pay good money to hear these fakes tell them something they really want to believe. Two minutes on Google disproves the notion right down to the ground, but there’s nothing so ironclad as the promise of prosperity. Never mind that the only person getting rich is the one collecting the entrance fee.

    Considering that the IRS has a published Q&A that labels these types of tax claims as “frivolous”, then I’m totally okay with the MN SC cutting right to the chase.

  • Jaydel

    Taxation is theft. There is no objective social contract anyone signed. Tacit consent is bullying on a national level.

    • What’s an objective social contract?

    • Jack Ungerleider

      Simple exercise. Make two columns on a sheet of paper and write in one column services you current receive from the government. (Since you mentioned the “national” level don’t forget things like the military, ICE, etc.) In the other column figure out what it would cost for you to get those same services (if they are available) on the open market. Add 25% to the total for all the services you left out because you don’t think of them. See how it compares to the your tax bill.

    • >>Taxation is theft. There is no objective social contract anyone signed. Tacit consent is bullying on a national level.<<

      Bless your heart. I bet you believe that too.