October 23, 2001
IRS assault, Truth In Taxation

Here's an interesting tidbit: IRS agent assaults taxpayer in Vegas.

You can get the gist of it from the headline. The brief story is that a
man who was at an IRS hearing on whether a lien should be placed on his
property or not requested that the prosecuting agent produce the section
of IRS code that authorized such a lien. The IRS agent couldn't find that
section of the code, and he became enraged and attacked the man with a

Every now and then I read a story about
someone who blocks an IRS prosecution by simply asking to see the law that
requires them to pay taxes. In the cases I have read, IRS officials have
been unable to produce such a law, and people have had their cases
indefinitely suspended on that basis. That's pretty wild. I have read a
lot of the arguments of the people in that movement, most notably former
IRS Criminal Investigations Department Special Agent Joe Banister
. He
made a (relatively) big media splash when he quit the IRS and made public
his claims that there is no law that says U.S. citizens have to pay income
tax. He spent a long time investigating the basis for the income tax, and
he found a lot of points of concern- the main one being that payment of
income tax is voluntary, and the IRS treats it, more often than not, as
mandatory. He wrote up a lengthy
on his investigation and submitted it to his superiors, and
shortly thereafter was suspended. At that point, he resigned in disgust,
and wrote
a letter of resignation that is worth reading
, if only to see how ugly
things can get inside the great bureaucracies of our time.

Joe Banister isn't the first person to make the claims he did, but he is
certainly the first formerly-gung-ho IRS agent to do so. Irwin Schiff has
been a pay-no-income-tax
advocate for a long time, and more recently Bob Schulz and his
Give Me Liberty organization
has been making major waves—using a
hunger strike to force a Congressional hearing on the issue. 

To me, the idea that the income tax might really be voluntary blows my mind. To think that the IRS has been seizing homes, businesses, and wages, putting people in jail, and basically ruining thousands of lives, all without the proper authority to do so...well, its just mind blowing, I can't think of a better way to say it. 

Suppose that the "Truth In Taxation" hearings actually expose the fact that there is no law requiring payment of income tax. Aside from the repercussions that would have on how many people file their taxes next April, just imagine the lawsuits that might come from such a revelation. All those people who are in jail for "income tax evasion," all the folks whose homes and businesses were seized, all those liened wages...it would be a free-for-all. Now, I'm no big fan of lawsuits, but I am a big fan of penalizing those who cause damage to others. If your actions hurt another person in an objective way that can be proven in court, you should have to answer to that, and be made to repair the damage done if at all possible. 

In the case of the IRS, if the income tax is found to be voluntary (and frankly, the evidence supporting that seems to be pretty substantial), there is going to be a lot of payback to be had— potentially enough to bankrupt our government several times over. I don't know how that would get sorted out.

There's another arm of the no-income-tax movement that claims that the Income Tax Amendment itself was never properly ratified, and that the official in charge of recording the votes falsely claimed that enough states had voted yes (a Constitutional Amendment has to be approved by 3/4 of the states). The implications of that one are hard to imagine, and it seems almost in the realm of fantasy to think that something like that could have happened in our country. But then I think of Watergate. And then I think of the practically secret hearings in 1937 where marijuana was made illegal. And I think about our country's long and torrid history of abuses of power and influence.

1913, when the 16th Amendment was "passed," was pre-radio, for all intents and purposes. Most informed Americans got their information from the newspapers, and most Americans probably weren't informed at all. Think about how often it seems that the American public is "asleep at the wheel when it comes to what our government is up to. I'm talking about now, when we have the Internet, and 24-hour news channels, and more radio stations in my extremely rural area than there were in the entire country in 1913.

How hard would it be for someone to pull the wool over the eyes of the public in an environment like that? Not hard is the answer to that question. Not too hard at all.

I try to avoid being a conspiracy theorist, and I lay a skeptical eye on everything I see, but I also think it's important to not allow my vision to be clouded over by such skepticism. I keep my eyes wide open, and I remain skeptical until I see proof. That being said, I am very much looking forward to the Truth In Taxation hearings.

1/3 of eligible taxpayers already don't file their taxes each year. I expect that number to rise with each year to come.

Sorry to violate the "everything must connect to terror attacks" rule of political commentary. ;) I'll try to get back on topic next entry.

Posted by Lance Brown at 12:52 PM