Duties and Responsibilities of a U.S Citizen

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    • U.S. citizenship comes with both rights and responsibilities.US Flag image by dwight9592 from Fotolia.com

      Citizenship in the United States of America is granted in one of two ways. An individual born on American soil or in a foreign land to American parents is considered a citizen by birth. Alternatively, foreign nationals who wish to immigrate permanently may apply for citizenship. Giving individuals the right to live and travel freely throughout the United States and its territories, citizenship to this country comes with duties and responsibilities.

    Obeying Laws

    • Perhaps the most important duty of a citizen of the United States of America is to obey the law. There are many laws that govern the land. Each is administered by one of three jurisdictions: federal, state and municipal. Municipal laws are a combination of bylaws, decisions, ordinances and regulations that govern a specific city or municipality. An example of this is the zoning laws that restrict the height of new buildings within a neighborhood. State laws are the rules and regulations that govern each of the 50 states. Each state, for instance, has its own laws regarding income tax. Federal laws uniformly govern the United States and its territories, such as those that outlaw murder and regulate the financial services industry. These are created and administered by Congress and the President and enforced by the United States Supreme Court.

    Paying Taxes

    • Inventor and Founding Father of the United States Benjamin Franklin said, “In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.” This statement rings true as the payment of federal taxes is a duty of each citizen. Each calendar year, every citizen must pay taxes on the income and gifts he has received. Failure to file an annual tax return is punishable by fine and/or imprisonment.

    Jury Duty

    • When summoned, every citizen of the United States must serve on a jury. The only exception to this rule is in cases where performing jury duty would cause hardship to the individual, either financially or due to a health condition. In addition, all employers must allow staff members who are citizens to serve on a jury if summoned.

    Selective Service

    • The Selective Service System is a government agency which has the power, by order of Congress and the President, to implement a military draft due to a national emergency, such as war or natural disaster. All male citizens between the ages of 18 and 25 are required to register with the agency. Failure to do so is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000, up to five years' imprisonment or both.


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