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The Income Tax Liability Question: The Big Picture Is Shouting the Answer

Written by Subject: Philosophy: Libertarianism


The Income Tax Liability Question: The Big Picture Is Shouting the Answer


April, 2007

In my early years of struggling with the income tax liability question,
I was guided largely by the facts and opinions of sincere, intelligent
people who convinced me – correctly, I believe – that the government 1)
has been administering the income tax unlawfully and 2) aggressively
suppresses any attempt to publicly examine the issue. These two points
by themselves are quite mind-boggling, and pursuing the relevant
evidence turns out to be life-changing, to say the least. There are,
however, key questions that I failed to ask or adequately explore for
better than a decade. An examination of these key questions, I believe,
will go a long way toward explaining the “tax protester experience” and
hopefully will be pondered in the future by those who encounter the
income tax liability issue – or are still struggling with it. A few of
these questions are:

1. Whatever the truth may be about the written Tax Code and the
government’s administration of it, it is a fact that the income tax has
been an accepted system of taxation in America for nearly a century. Is there any evidence that the general public cares that a 90-year-old
institution was implemented in a less than honest manner? In fact, don’t most people take for granted that almost everything the government does has some element of deception or corruption involved? For example, the Constitution makes no provision whatsoever for a “standing army.” One could argue that the U.S. Army has been unlawful for most of the life of the nation; and that the Army, as we know it, should therefore be disbanded. How much public support do you believe there is for disbanding the U.S. Army? There are any number of things being done by the government that find little or no Constitutional authority: debt-based paper money; allowing Presidents to carry on wars without a Congressional Declaration of War; and, for that matter, virtually the entirety of what is known as “Administrative Law” (what amounts to legislation by departments of the Executive Branch). How much sleep are Americans losing over the fact that their Constitution does not provide for these things? If you are a strict “Constitutionalist,” are you willing to put the welfare of your family or your very life at risk in some kind of activist movement to “bring the government back into the bounds set for it by the Constitution,” disband the army, throw out the money system, impeach a President for conducting an unlawful war or do
away with all government functions that fall under Administrative Law –
all this in spite of the fact that 99% of the public thinks you are
loony and would be just as happy to see you locked up? Is there a
difference between resisting any of these other unlawful government
activities and resisting the income tax?

2. The government carries on many activities in sloppy disregard for the written law. The income tax is one of the ways the government raises the revenue for what it is doing – also in sloppy disregard for the written law. These various unconstitutional activities and the income tax share
one thing in common: a virtually meaningless level of resistance by the
population – to the extent, in fact, that the vast majority of Americans
is quite content to have the government incarcerate people who resist or
disturb their familiar delusions – oh, and, by the way, kill them if
they refuse to “come along peacefully.” Are written laws, moral
principles or personal conscience anything more than mere window
dressing in such a society?
3. It has been my experience that very few people are that picky about
the functional details of major controlling institutions in their lives
such as government, or even church, for that matter. Perhaps for a
variety of complex psychological factors, people bow to the impositions
and accept the foibles of institutions they a) see as being important
“benefactors” and b) see little chance of resisting in any case. They
tolerate what is being done “for them” and “to them” based upon
perceived self-interest. When 99% of the people clearly don’t care about
your issue, what is the point of throwing your life away attempting to
save them from themselves? Well, there may be a point, but I doubt it
has anything to do with being a “patriot” or a “good citizen.”

The following thoughts are directed at those people whom the government
and Media like to call “tax protesters.” Of course, the term “tax
protester” is largely a misnomer, but it’s very existence and widespread
usage is tied directly to the theme of this article. Where do “tax
protesters” come from? What causes someone to adopt the ideas and
attitudes that characterize a “tax protester”? I communicated with
literally thousands of tax protesters during my years spent studying,
reporting and wrestling with the income tax liability question. While
I’m sure there are numerous paths by which folks join the “Tax
Movement,” two stand out in my mind. The most common path seems to be
where people have serious difficulties with the Internal Revenue Service
and, while searching for a solution, stumble into information that not
only appears to provide a solution to their difficulties but, to their
great surprise, appears to reveal that there really is no law requiring
the average American to pay the income tax in the first place. Then
there is another group of people who, having no particular IRS
difficulties, stumble into the income tax liability question by way of a
friend, a public lecture, a book or an Internet site.

The only “tax protesters” for whom I can say I have lost respect at this
point are those who continue to make money off of the gullible and the
unwary by promoting the idea that the truth about the income tax
liability question somehow makes it safe and sane to not file income tax
returns and/or to engage in all sorts of clever schemes to obtain
“refunds” or “protect” assets from the government – and, of course, the
myriad variations on those themes that have resulted in so many ruined
lives, broken families, and good people in prison – not because they
were wrong about the income liability question, but because they were
naïve about the broader context and were taken in by people who should
have known better and whose underground subsistence – like so many
“multi-level” adventures – depends upon the next blind man’s cash.

While rarely discussed in polite conversation, the vast majority of
people are deeply afraid of the Internal Revenue Service; so much so,
that they are uncomfortable just being in the presence of someone
questioning or challenging the “conventional wisdom” – i.e., “what
everybody knows.” Because of this widespread uneasiness with the
subject, a relatively small percentage of the population has the
slightest clue about the income tax liability question and the startling
power and extent of the relevant evidence. Most people who do allow
themselves to examine the issue closely are quite disturbed, even
dumbfounded by what they learn. What they choose to do about it will
vary as widely as their personality types: cautious, skeptical, curious,
thoughtful, principled, combative, reckless, short-sighted … you name
it. The reckless or naïve may “sign up” on the spot, changing their
lives forever in ways they cannot begin to imagine. Near the other end
of the spectrum are the people who will a take a couple of years to
research the matter before reaching any conclusions or choosing any
course of action.

People with serious, ongoing IRS difficulties are among the most likely
to embrace a hoped-for solution; although, thanks to the intense,
networking nature of movements like the Tax Movement, long before their
IRS difficulties have been solved, these people will likely progress
through a few different strategies and points of view – none of which
may actually solve their problems, some of which may actually make their
problems worse and all of which will ultimately make them madder than
hell at the government … and sometimes at the Tax Movement as well.

The “tax protesters” I have known who spent months or years
investigating the income tax liability question have shared remarkably
similar experiences. Most have consulted with tax professionals,
attorneys and government officials ranging from Congressional
Representatives to IRS agents. In close to 20 years I have never met a
“tax protester” who reported any of those people actually citing the
statute that makes the average American, living and working in the 50
states, liable for the payment of an income tax. I believe it is safe to
say that had any of those questioned been able to cite the statute, the
vast majority of the investigators would not have become “tax protesters.”

There is something far more powerful at work here, though – namely the
attitudes of those tax professionals, attorneys, Congressional
Representatives and IRS agents. One might assume that such people would
show genuine concern when they are challenged and find themselves unable
to cite the legal basis for their very professional existence. (This may
be a naïve assumption for reasons that will be addressed shortly.)
Instead, however, these folks are palpably uncomfortable even being
asked “the question.” Invariably they bury the question in an
exasperating psychological stew consisting of red herring, cheap
ridicule, utterly unsubstantiated “…because I’m an expert and I say so”
… oh, and raw intimidation – lots of intimidation (“You’ll wind up in
jail.”). This, again, from people whose job descriptions – one would
think -- tie them directly to the information being sought: i.e., the
law that clearly imposes a liability for the payment of an income tax on
the average American. Anyone with the slightest clue about human nature
begins to smell a rat in the woodpile at this point.

This is the point at which I believe many, if not most, “tax protesters”
make a fatal error. In fact, I believe I made this error myself. It is
related to the popular quotation from Voltaire, “It is dangerous to be
right when the government is wrong.” There is terrible and cruel irony
here. Generations of Americans have been brought up to believe that
their society – more so than any other in history -- is built upon the
principles of truth, justice and liberty, and that their government,
while not perfect, is genuinely committed to protecting and upholding
those principles. Over the last few years, I have watched in horror as
some of the most truthful, just and liberty-minded people I have ever
known have had their lives ruined by their government and, indeed, by
the society at large. Why? Because these fine people naively held to the
belief that, despite its flaws, America – its government and its people
– would awaken and right the wrongs they had so diligently and bravely
brought to the light of day.


Here I must take a brief detour for an important aside. Given that
virtually the entire American populace has cooperated with the income
tax, as they understood it, for nearly a century, one might reasonably
and safely assume that there would be no great risk in simply (and even
quietly) re-writing the Tax Code so that a crystal clear liability
statute were in place that would leave no doubt as to the liability of
the average American for payment of the income tax and filing of returns
as it is currently practiced. Nearly everyone accepts that the Tax Code
is and always has been an incomprehensible mess. In addition, there have
been virtually no tax protester-styled arguments coming out of any law
schools or accounting firms and the Establishment needn’t fear that
inserting some clear liability language in the existing Code would
attract any troublesome attention.

Some will argue that the government does not and cannot do this because
any such liability statute would be unconstitutional; which, they will
argue, is why the income tax liability has been based upon deception all
these years rather than clear, specific language. This, I believe, is a
huge stretch and entirely misses the point. Does anyone doubt that the
U.S. government could not insert such language without virtually any
public awareness? How can you doubt it? The Tax Code has sailed along
fine for nearly a century without so much as whimper from the law
schools, the Bar Association, accounting schools, Congress, the courts
or the Media. For that matter, not one major public figure of any note
whatsoever has ever stepped forward to even so much as lend credibility
to Tax Movement claims that the Tax Code fails to properly impose a
liability upon American citizens. Furthermore, most of the key leaders
of the “Tax Movement” over the last 20 years have either spent time in
prison, are in prison, are under injunction or have dropped out of
sight. The reality is this: the government, certainly at this point, has
nothing but contempt for the “Tax Movement” and, for all the reasons
previously stated, is not the slightest bit worried about a sudden
public awakening to the income tax liability question. It is, in fact,
for this very reason that IRS and other government spokesmen have for so
long simply refused to answer “tax protester” questions, instead relying
upon ridicule and threats. There is no meaningful public support for or
even interest in the income tax liability question … and they know it.

As for the belief that there is some giant conspiracy at the IRS or in
the government generally to cover up “the truth about the Tax Code,” I
cannot subscribe to that view either. Do you realize how many
professional people are implicated in such a cover-up: every
Congressional Representative and Senator in the past century, along with
every attorney who worked on any state’s income tax laws (as these are
almost always tied to the federal liability); every accountant and tax
attorney to practice in the last century, along with every one of the
college and university professors that educated them; every judge who
has ever presided over a tax trial; and every attorney who has ever
worked for the IRS since 1913 – to say nothing of the countless,
brilliant business minds who have scoured the Tax Code since its
inception, searching for loopholes. The idea that all of these people
have somehow either been cowards, idiots, or a part of one giant
conspiracy to cover up “the truth” is absolutely ludicrous. I believe
that what tax protesters are experiencing has little to do with how the
Tax Code is written, and far more to do with the pitiful condition of
American society – a condition that is geometrically more concentrated,
the higher people rise in both the corporate and government power
structures. (Lord Acton comes to mind.)


And here we must return to the woodpile. You see that smell is not just
a dead rat; in fact, it is not a dead anything. That stench is from the
heaving, gasping, and gangrenous body politic of the United States of
America, unspeakably awful and most dangerous as it senses its own death
approaching. There’s a conspiracy all right, but not in the common sense
where the participants are conscious of it. It’s a conspiracy rooted in
madness – the kind of madness religious people like to refer to as
“hardening of the heart.”

In this one profound sense, the American people are surely being
“represented” by their government. For whatever set of reasons, the
voting majority of the American people 1) think in ten-second sound
bytes; 2) thanks to the television remote control, can no longer
tolerate even ten-second sound bytes that do not “make them feel good”;
and, therefore, 3) have conditioned themselves to switch off virtually
any unpleasant sound byte that comes their way. Politics and religion
have long been the two taboo topics of conversation at parties. Today,
meaningful conversations that threaten to connect conscience to the
field of actual behavior are taboo literally everywhere.

Most people who carefully study the income tax liability question – and
especially those who pay careful attention to the responses of their
government to the questioners -- wind up seeing the income tax liability
question as merely the door through which a larger and vastly more
troubling context is revealed – a context fraught with problems that
make the income tax liability question seem rather simple by comparison.
I mean, after all, an income tax liability statute either exists or it
doesn’t. The very fact that for over 90 years an entire society has had
as much as half of the fruits of its labor taxed away without any of its
millions of accountants, lawyers, elected officials, bureaucrats or
Media truly understanding or being able to cite the legal basis for it –
well…, this is a far more complex consideration than the mere existence
of a statute. Earlier I mentioned a “fatal error,” one that I myself had
made. What is that error? I believe it was and is the failure, for
whatever reason, to consider the income tax liability question in its
full and accurate context. If that were as easy to do as it is to say, I
should have accomplished it myself.

Looking back at my own introduction to the income tax liability
question, considering the kind of information that came my way, the
investigations that I conducted, the “experts” that I consulted, the
dozens upon dozens of letters I wrote and the dumbfounding
(non)responses I received, I see no way that I could have behaved any
differently – unless I had been fortunate enough to meet someone who had
been down that road before, had lived to tell about it and could help me
integrate my mind-boggling experiences into a larger context. The
experience commonly had by those who study the income tax liability
question can be so shocking, the complexity of its implications so
overwhelming, that the experience quite literally creates its own
context – much like a really large mountain creates its own weather. The
problem, of course, for the climber caught up in the localized weather
of that really large mountain is this: the necessity of dealing with the
urgent and immediate challenges and dangers of the mountain make it
literally impossible to view the mountain in the larger context needed
to tell whether one’s actions on the mountain make any sense in the
world as a whole. Our mountain is an invisible liability statute that
currently causes the American people to part with over half of their
Gross Domestic Product. That’s a pretty big mountain, and, if you go
exploring the “closed” sections of the mountain, the “rangers” who
patrol the place are more likely to shove you into a crevasse than try
to help you reach the summit.

The critical lesson to learn is this: no matter how big the mountain, it
is only one mountain in a much larger world. Even on this huge mountain
known as the income tax liability issue there is the occasional “clear
day.” How could I (we, anyone) fail to take notice of the huge red
flares shooting in every direction? Flares such as: zero support from
public figures; zero institutional recognition of the situation;
glassy-eyed responses from every single person of any social or
political station whatsoever; and a country full of people who buy into
slogans such as “The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave,” “Life,
Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” and “The world’s only remaining
super-power” and then “voluntarily comply” with a system of taxation
that confiscates over half of the Gross Domestic Product of the entire
citizenry! I mean, think about that! You mean to tell me that there
isn’t something seriously wrong with the collective psyche of a people
like that? The red flares don’t answer the income tax liability
question; they do something far more important. They reveal that
critical, larger context in which one might make a truly informed
decision as to whether the answer to the income tax liability question
even matters and, perhaps more importantly, whether the answer is
actually worth the price. The red flares should alert every serious
investigator of the income tax liability question to conditions far more
serious than a flawed, falsely administered Tax Code. These conditions
must be addressed before any individual or group strategy can be
realistically devised; for, as long as those conditions persist, I
believe it will be impossible to solve the income tax liability
question. Furthermore, vested interests being what they are, and the
condition of American society being what it is, those who actually have
some success at garnering any noticeable amount of the limited public
attention that is possible will be visited with great suffering by
representatives of “The Great Society.” Granted, for some people the
stench in the nostrils is just too overwhelming to “stay in the system”;
but, when you stop and think about it, that really doesn’t have so much
to do with a dishonest Tax Code as it does with a dishonest government
carrying on a completely unacceptable level of immoral and unlawful
activities and claiming to “represent you” at the same time.

Few people are either emotionally or logistically equipped to deal with
the domestic terror the IRS and DOJ are capable of dishing out. A better
recognition and understanding of the red flares should keep the
ill-equipped out of their kamikaze uniforms and off of the battle field.
In sum: there has been a tragic misperception of reality that has
resulted in horrendous suffering when some really good people have
simply tried to live their principles. It is long past time to re-think
what is wrong, what should be done and what can be done. Given the
efforts, stature and accomplishments of some of the men and women in the
Tax Movement, I realize that it is a bit presumptuous of me to offer
such an opinion; but it is actually out of the great respect I have for
these people – as well as the heartache I feel for their suffering –
that I am compelled to share my strongly felt views.

First, I believe we must force ourselves to painstakingly ponder reality
today in America (and perhaps as much of the rest of the world as we can
get our heads around. Dr. John Coleman in his famous book Conspirators’
Hierarchy: The Committee of 300 made a statement I shall not forget:
(loosely paraphrasing) “You had better know what the rich and powerful
believe because, whether it is true or not, you are going to be affected
by what they believe.” I think Dr. Coleman should have added, “You had
also better know what the masses believe; because when the beliefs of
the masses are in sync with the agenda of the rich and powerful,
dissidents beware!” In that same vein, it does not matter what the Tax
Code says or, for that matter, what any written law says or what morals,
principles or traditions you believe the nation was founded upon or by
which you wish to conduct your life. If you are the typical “tax
protester” I have come to know, then realization “numero uno” must be
that you are tiny, isolated Tibet and the rest of America is Communist
China, complete with ruthless, despotic government. Actually, it is
worse than that, but I’m grasping for a model to grab your attention.
Unless you are quite willing to spend the rest of your life in various
states of persecution and suffering (or hiding), you had better pay
attention to the symptoms being displayed by this multi-cultural society
and its paranoid, two-party, nuclear-tipped government which is, by the
way, in search of enemies – a.k.a. “evildoers.” Are you getting the
picture? The place is a mad house.

You’ve heard the expression “The inmates are running the asylum.” Not
funny, really, especially when it’s true. At a time when England was the
“asylum,” there was the “New World.” Finding ourselves in what appears
to be a rather hopeless asylum, where are we to go? We are Americans. We
have lives, families, principles, beliefs. Many of us wish to “meet our
Maker” someday and be able to give a decent account of ourselves. From
that point of view, some will see no other choice than to apply their
minds and live what is in their hearts to the fullest. I believe that in
this way one may – if only in Eternity -- achieve personal fulfillment
no matter how the world responds.

Personally, I decided a good while ago that it is not only a waste of
time, but actually counterproductive, to continue making arguments
narrowly aimed at the income tax liability question. We’ve been at that
over 30 years and have virtually nothing to show for it but hundreds of
ruined lives and some brave, honorable men rotting in prison. The
percent of the general population that has responded to the best
arguments, to the pleading, to the protestation, or to the obscene
treatment of Tax Protesters by the government has been so small as to
amount to literally nothing. On the other hand, any realistic view will
admit that there has been a complete rejection of tax protester
arguments on the income tax liability question in every single corner of
the Establishment: government, Media, academia, the accounting and legal
communities, even the pundits – those intellectual talking heads whose
careers thrive on controversy and “debate.” Not so much as one of them
has had the courage (or been suicidal enough) to say, “Hey, you know,
those tax protesters have a legitimate beef. They at least deserve to
have their questions answered!”

There will be those who will want to throw that “sixty million
non-filers” figure at me and claim that credit for it goes to the tax
protesters. In the first place, I have never seen a speck of proof for
that sixty million figure. I seem to recall a figure of twenty million
that came out of a real IRS source a few years ago, but even that figure
did not come with any credible support – merely the typical propaganda
IRS news release we’ve grown accustomed to over many years. In my
opinion the vast majority of “non-filers” are not refusing to file; they
fail to file because their lives are so screwed up that they just never
get around to it. I would guess that they haven’t the foggiest clue
about the income tax liability question or the even the existence of
“tax protesters.” Based upon public and personal knowledge of the size
of the membership lists and e-mail lists in certain patriot
organizations, combined with a very good understanding of just how
downright difficult it is to function “outside the system” these days, I
would estimate the number of non-filing, genuine “tax protesters” to be
around 25 to 50 thousand. Now, for those tax protesters who find that
figure insulting, let’s get ridiculous and inflate it to 1 million. A
little quick math will put our situation in perspective: one million
equals one third of one percent (.33%) of the American people that are
walking their talk about the Tax Code being a fraud.

Reviewing a few key events in the Tax Protest Movement of the last
decade is instructive. One very brave and dynamic man actually ran a
series of full-page ads in a national newspaper, “USA Today.” The ads
were well done and contained more than enough information to alarm the
public both over the Tax Code itself and the government’s flat-out
refusal to respond to those who have questioned it. These ads must have
been viewed by many millions of American. The entire response to these
ads was fielded, for all intents and purposes, by one man on a single
line home phone.

I was personally involved in providing some 30 faxed pages of powerful
documentation to the producer of a CBS 60 Minutes II program that aired
a few years ago. I spent 90 minutes on the phone with this producer who,
by the end of the conversation, actually had me convinced that she was
genuinely interested in airing a fair representation of the income tax
liability question and in particular the stories of several tax
protester trial acquittals – the documentation for which I had provided
her. Well, as some of you may remember, that show was a complete
whitewash, a sell-out, an intellectual crime. Former IRS Commissioner
Rossotti was invited on the show, and the interviewer, knowing full well
Rossotti was lying through his teeth, allowed him to assert that the IRS
had achieved “100% success” against these (tax protester) arguments.”
There has never been a single program aired on the Media that has fairly
presented the income tax liability question and allowed those
representing the “tax protester” side to freely and fully present their
evidence. The only exception to this was the one or two occasions where
C-SPAN managed to let a Bob Schulz/We the People conference go on live
during mid-day. Other than there has been a complete black out of the
income tax liability issue – this after over 30 years of sincere,
capable people beating their brains out and sacrificing mightily.

Finally, over the last few years, nearly every “Tax Protester” type
organization in America has been shut down or effectively crippled by a
“civil injunction” strategy that, in legal terms is so baseless and
absurd on its face as to make any intellectually honest law student
blush. What is remarkable about this “strategy” is that it took the IRS
and DOJ so long to figure it out. One fine organization in Maryland gave
the IRS absolute fits for better than a decade by writing letters,
simply demanding that the IRS follow its own rules and regulations. IRS
responses to these letters ranged from off-point to downright laughable.
There was (and is) simply no way the IRS could begin to justify its
actions when challenged by case workers who understand the law as
written. Finally, after better than a decade, it seems clear that high
level management at IRS got together with their counterparts at DOJ –
and one must assume a few key administrative judges at the federal
circuits – and implemented a specious plan to use so-called “civil
injunctions” to acquire the court orders necessary to shut down those
who were giving the IRS employees such headaches by confronting them
with the illegalities of their procedures. The point here, sadly, is not
a positive one. There is a cruel reality here that must be faced clearly
and objectively and must be factored into anyone’s future strategy with
regard to the income tax liability issue: this diabolical “civil
injunction” scheme is, at a minimum, a fraud upon the court, and
arguably a conspiracy with the courts. Nonetheless, it has met neither
one single legal obstacle nor objections by any public figure, by any
organization of note, or even by any other group of activists outside of
the Tax Protest Movement. Other activist groups, it would seem, should
be horrified that the government can get away with such a blatant legal
shenanigan. Why are other activist groups silent on this matter? Perhaps
because they don’t know about it; but the bottom line is likely to be
that they are like most Americans: terrified of the IRS and unable to
overcome the cognitive dissonance that tells them the “tax protesters”
couldn’t possibly be correct.

What is the common thread in the last three paragraphs? “Tax protesting”
as usual hasn’t worked, and it hasn’t worked for thirty years.
“Insanity” is said to be doing the same thing over and over, all the
while expecting different results. It is difficult at this point to not
describe the Tax Protest Movement as anything other than insane. It is
very understandable to get caught up in the passion of what seems to be
such a paramount, central issue. Yet, I have come to believe that a
narrowly focused passion about the legal mess known as the Tax Code can
and does blind people to the larger context without which there can be
no true victory in the battle to clean it up. Certainly many so-called
“Patriot” organizations have had many issues in addition to the Tax
Code. Those issues often include the money system, jury nullification,
the right to bear arms, a return to the original intent of the
Constitution and various other offshoots of that. However, what seems
common to all these issues and concerns is a common inability to face
the reality of life in America – the prevailing attitudes, behavior and
reactions of the vast majority of the American people, their businesses
and corporations, along with local, county, state and federal
government. So-called “Constitutionalist” values – including the will to
address the income tax liability question – have made virtually zero
inroads into American government at any level, even local government in
rural America. Why? Because all government below the federal level has,
over the last few decades, become merely sub-divisions of federal power.
One organization has faced that reality and attempted a public education
campaign by way of a radio station. The intent has been noble; the
results have been predictably discouraging; and the outlook as of this
writing is bleak.

Surely not too many “tax protesters,” upon reflection, would argue that
the central, most important issue is the Tax Code itself. Isn’t the
real, basic issue what kind of government we will have or not have –
and, underlying that, will we deal honestly with each other or not? At
the core of that concern is this whole matter of the “living
Constitution” – i.e., rather than amend as needed to deal with
circumstances that didn’t exist in 1783, just “re-interpret” the
existing words, no matter how intellectually dishonest and self-serving
that might turn out to be. Yet, looking back upon the 30 years or so of
“tax protesting” (Patriot Movement, etc) activities of which I became a
student, invariably the Tax Movement kept up a constant drum beat of
“There is no law, there is no law,” a constant recruiting of new
“non-filers,” and constant attempts to push specific income tax
liability question through whatever Media outlet would provide an
opportunity. Anyone who has worked or is working to shed light on the
income tax liability issue certainly must realize that the message needs
an audience. If we do not understand what and how that audience thinks,
how can we possibly know how to present the problem we wish to have
addressed? If we do not correctly discern the reaction of our audience
and adjust our message and strategy as needed, are we to expect any
different or more successful results? Worst of all, if we stubbornly
cling to false hope based upon a flawed perception of how the American
people are actually reacting to our message, then we have become a
danger to ourselves and to those would fall for our misguided message.

First, let us consider the stark reality of what the American people
seem to believe in the present and how they have behaved for nearly a
century with regard to the income tax liability question. Can we
reasonably expect to attract the interest of a critical mass of the
American people to an income tax liability question when the income tax
itself has been a de facto, operational reality for the better part of
the last century? Do we not see the startling implications of just that
single fact? Should we not see that we must put the income tax liability
question into a much larger context – one that takes into account what
people believe (rightly or wrongly), how people tend to respond when
their “reality” is challenged, and what (if any) principles that may yet
resonate with the people that might cause them to make a connection to
our principles and our message. After all, if that connection is just
flat out impossible, would it not be better to know it, face it and
adjust our lives and actions accordingly?

Here is one way people think that needs to be considered. Many
reasonable people wonder if there is any point in exposing error or
fraud or other crimes from the past, if 1) there is no way to provide a
remedy to those who were harmed and 2) most of the people responsible
for the wrong-doing are dead? Modern life has enough wrongs to right
without including situations where the culprits are dead and the victims
don’t even see themselves as victims. As an example, a number of years
ago there was a big fuss over irregularities in the admitting of Ohio as
a state. As I recall, President Taft was from Ohio, and folks were
actually suggesting that legislation he signed should be void. How
myopic and irresponsible is that?

It is largely impossible to prove who did what over the decades while
the income tax acts were constructed, deconstructed and convoluted
beyond understanding. One thing, however, is for sure: if there has been
a conspiracy or string of conspiracies to deceive the American people as
to their liability for the payment of an income tax, the vast majority
of the culprits have been dead for many decades. Furthermore, it can be
argued that many or most of the current politicians, bureaucrats and
private sector tax professionals are merely carrying on what they were
taught as “new-hires” and continue to believe to be “our system.” It
cannot be ignored that only a tiny handful of “tax professionals” has
ever stepped forward to challenge or expose the liability flaw in the
income tax system. Remember this when you are exasperated by that friend
or neighbor who looks at you like you have three heads when you try to
share what you think you know about the income tax liability question.
In addition, remember that for decades both professional opinion and
public perception has been that the Tax Code is extremely complex and
difficult to understand. Given the foregoing, is it any surprise that
generations of “tax professionals” and “taxpayers” have continued to
accept that “this is just how it works” – in spite of the vehement
questions and arguments of several decades of “tax protesters”? To rub
salt in that wound, consider that the relatively tiny number of people
actually making a fuss about the income tax liability question only
serves to strengthen the common perception that there’s probably not
much to it.

It is an unarguable reality that the American people have acquiesced to
and generally cooperated with the “income tax,” warts and all, for the
better part of a century. Allegations that the current system came about
through a web of deception begs the question: so what? So President Taft
was from Ohio, and Ohio’s admission to the Union was bogus? So what?
“President” Taft’s official acts stand and will continue to stand.
Similarly, refunding 94 years of income tax payments is both absurd and
impossible. Do reasonable people suddenly stop filing 1040’s and stop
paying the income tax merely because they discover that the current
system was dishonestly set up nearly a century ago? After all, rightly
or wrongly, most people believe that their income taxes are the primary
source of funding for the vast amounts of government services on the
federal and even state and local levels. Is there not a compelling,
moral requirement to consider a much larger context than a century-old
conspiracy in the imposition of the income tax? I believe there is such
a moral requirement and that it may well be one of the reasons that “tax
protesters” have had such a struggle sharing their message and, indeed,
defending themselves in front of that euphemistic “jury of their peers.”

“Necessitas non habet legem”: Necessity has no law. Now this is often
referenced as the legal loophole through which government jumps when the
law is getting in the way of its agenda – mostly taken to mean something
that is both unlawful and detrimental to the people. But such a
one-sided view is not really fair and assumes that people in government
are always up to no good. If, for example, the Supreme Court were to
find that 1) Ohio was not a state when President Taft was elected and 2)
all of President Taft’s acts were void, then it might use those facts as
a “lawful” basis to set aside one or more of President Taft’s acts.
While arbitrarily setting aside a couple of acts might prove convenient
to someone’s political agenda, any wholesale setting aside of President
Taft’s acts would prove either irrelevant or a practical impossibility.
As difficult as it may be to admit, the same reasoning applies to the
problem with the income tax liability question. Given the
(dys)functional reality of the last century, responsible people are
going to insist on having certain larger issues addressed before
grabbing hold of the singular consideration that they might be able to
“get out of paying the income tax.” On its own, the deceptive inception
of the Tax Code has not gained any meaningful traction with the American
people, nor will it. Instead, what should be showcased are the
reprehensible attitudes and behavior of the people accountable with
respect to the income tax liability question – those people whose
ongoing violations of trust and abuses of power put at grave risk the
political concerns of Americans all across the political spectrum. The
legal facts of the income tax liability question are not the compelling
part of the story, as it turns out. The government’s response is far and
away more compelling – a phenomenon at least as deserving of the title
“Shock and Awe” as anything the U.S. military has done of late.

At the heart of this “larger context” of which I speak are two things:
the purpose of government and the behavior of government. Until
sufficient numbers of thoughtful, responsible Americans can clearly see
a critical connection between the income tax liability question and
their own strongly held views regarding either the purpose of government
and/or its behavior, they will continue to view the income tax liability
question as of little more significance than the fuss over President
Taft and Ohio’s statehood. As long as most Americans see government as
operating within an acceptable range of its purposes and powers, and, as
long as most Americans do not find the moral character of their
government’s behavior completely insufferable, American juries will
continue to convict “tax protesters” 98% of the time – the 2% exception
coming when jurors simply find the government’s behavior in a particular
case to be completely insufferable. In the meantime the view of the
average American is going to be that government, while imperfect, is
necessary and must be paid for. Tax protester arguments to the contrary,
Americans will continue to believe that the income tax provides the
lion’s share of necessary government revenue and that any shenanigans in
the inception of the income tax nearly a century ago are – again – about
as relevant today as any flaws in Ohio’s statehood are to President
Taft’s presidency.

When you consider the American people as a whole, do you see any strong,
unified public will with regard to the limits or purposes of government?
Can you infer from the platforms of either the Republican or Democratic
Party a statement of the purposes of government that even remotely match
your own? Think of the most well-known political activist groups. What
behavior of the government are they outraged about? As part of their
outrage, are they actually prepared to resist in meaningful ways that
could land them in prison? Are they outraged about anything that you are
outraged about? If so, have you contacted them with your information
about the income tax liability question? And their response was? In the
last couple of years I myself have attempted some networking with
activist groups other than the Tax Movement. I have yet to find one
group that does not think “tax protesters” are anything other than
cranks and cheats. Well, I know what I know, but how am I to work in or
with other groups – whose issues I may find important as well – if I
advocate one particular point of view that causes them to dismiss me as
a “crank”? Far and away the prevailing view of activist groups seems to
be that “The work of the government must be funded, and until a better
system is in place, it is completely irresponsible and unthinkable to
refuse to ‘pay one’s fair share.’” If this is far and away the
prevailing view amongst activists, for heaven’s sake, what makes anyone
think that there is some other “silent majority” that will awaken to
abolish the Tax Code if only the Tax Movement can find its voice? Well,
it’s had 30+ years and several outstanding voices, authors and
organizers. At some point the word “kamikaze” has to be considered.

It always seemed to me that many of the people in the “Tax Movement”
also subscribe to viewpoints embodied in the “Patriot Movement” or
“Constitutionalist Movement” or “Freedom Movement.” Let’s have a look at
the concept of “patriotism.” At the time I entered the Tax Movement, I
could have been fairly described as social and fiscal conservative,
albeit an ignorant one, to be sure. I was cynical about government, but
still believed that there were significant numbers of Americans who
value the principles embodied in the Constitution and would rise up if
something really outrageous was going on – sort of like what I saw
people do during the Viet Nam War or the Civil Rights Movement. After
more than a decade – and probably over 10,000 hours of effort, the
“movement” finally jolted me into seeing how dismally near-sighted I had
become. The Movement had become my world, and, being so entirely
immersed in it, I had lost all sense of perspective and proportionality.
Somehow I was able to press on year after year after year, completely
ignoring facts that were sitting squarely in front of me. What facts?
Well, for starters, the fact that the message for which I had so much
passion was accepted almost exclusively by “the choir” – i.e., those
folks whom I ran into at meetings or on the Internet who already shared
my view. Most of the realities addressed in this essay were, for an
embarrassingly long period of time, either simply ignored or
rationalized as being unrelated to my belief that any sensible, honest
American should be outraged by the truth about the income tax liability

As deeply and thoroughly as I was digging, I can still see it taking a
year or two to grasp the scope of the income tax liability question and
maybe another year to realize that America doesn’t care. The only
explanation I can think of for this taking well over a decade is that
outrage must have a tendency to lead to myopia. I still wonder how I
could have failed to notice the giant red flags that were waving in my
face and that I am finally getting around to writing about.

Without elaboration, here are just five additional factors that I
believe cannot be ignored in any campaign to reach the hearts and minds
of the American people:

1. Consider: the shocking percentage of Americans are on
anti-depressants and/or use mood altering substances regularly just to
keep from falling apart. Include prescription and non-prescription
medications, illegal drugs and alcohol. Expand that to include addiction
to the mindless distractions of video and computer games, the male
obsession with sports and sports programming, and the stream of Media
brainwashing so aptly referred to as “programming.” What kind of human
beings are we approaching with the income tax liability question?
Rational, well-balanced, thoughtful people who share your own social
values and principles of government? Which anti-depressant are you on?
2. Consider: that the “separation of church and state” doctrine has
penetrated American culture to the degree that far and away the vast
majority of church-going Americans and their ministers behave as if
their faith not only “saves” them, but conveniently relieves them of any
accountability for the behavior of their government, even making it
improper for them to question or criticize the behavior of their
government specifically on the basis of their religious beliefs and
values. These creatures of IR Code Sec. 501(c)(3) are understandably
eager to hear that the Tax Code is a fraud, which is why, of course,
representatives of the Tax Movement are so frequently asked to address
their local congregations. (Ha!)
3. Consider: the literal disintegration of the American family, both as
a functioning social unit and as the basis of values, beliefs and a
sense of how things should be; having been replaced by a statist, public
education that has taught at least three generations of Americans what
to think, rather than how to think.
4. Consider: the staggering degree to which dependence upon government
for basic necessities of life has increased in practice, in acceptance
and in expectation all across the political spectrum.
5. Consider: that #4 must be paid for – at least on paper (or on the
Fed’s computer ledger).

I love the quote, “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute
conversation with the average voter.” What haunts me about it is a
reasonable corollary: “The best argument against the tax movement is a
conversation with the average taxpayer.”

Apparently, 49% of Americans believe it is perfectly all right for the
government to confiscate your property and re-distribute it “in its
infinite wisdom.” The other 49% think that’s okay too, just not as much
– and they would prefer to call it “compassionate conservatism.” The
other 2% are the lunatic fringe. That’s you and me: responsible people
who don’t want anything from the government except to be left alone. In
“The Land of the Free” (Oh, excuse me, I mean in “Our Democracy”) that
qualifies you as a lunatic – maybe even a potential terrorist. Face it.
America is so far gone into socialism and moral relativism that a little
thing like the income tax liability question, which certainly could have
started a civil war in 1860 every bit as well as slavery, is barely a
blip on the radar today.

Of course, people must decide for themselves, based upon the available
information and upon their own personal experiences, values and beliefs,
exactly what course to take regarding the income tax liability question.
My hope is only that these thoughts may help the interested reader more
realistically chart his or her best course, especially in how to
approach family, friends and neighbors. Again, I believe that the
singular message “There is no income liability for the average American”
has mostly fallen on deaf ears for good reason. The track record of the
so-called “Tax Protest Movement” itself demonstrates that, absent a
serious, responsible socio-political context, the singular message
“There is no law” continues to attract just enough reckless,
irresponsible, even irrational people to actually frighten away the few
otherwise interested, responsible Americans there are and keep any
movement badly fragmented and thoroughly discredited. Certainly, the
detailed and convincing evidence of fraud in the income tax liability
question -- compiled by remarkable people such as Irwin Schiff, John
Kotmair, Larry Becraft, Larken Rose and so many others -- continues to
be important, but not in any sense because it helps anyone “get out of
paying the income tax.” On the contrary, it’s best use is as the door to
that larger context – an honest and courageous consideration of what the
government has actually been up to; how and if it can be reined in; what
it should be doing; who should be paying for it and how! (…Okay, I know,
I know! I’m talking out of both sides of my mouth. Maybe it doesn’t
really have a best use after all. Maybe Schiff, Kotmair et al would have
been better off researching how to build another Ark.)

My hearts aches because I can think of no grand strategy for any group
or movement to begin to restore Liberty, Responsibility and Honesty into
a society that has become so intellectually dishonest, morally
irresponsible and wholly dependent upon the coercive power of artificial
entities. I will conclude with a statement of my personal “strategy”
(for what that’s worth), but at present I see no public or group
strategy, centered upon the income tax liability question, that is doing
anything other than discrediting the far more important principles and
ideals that caused the question to be raised in the first place.

In conclusion I must tell you that (“As for me …”) after many years of
studying, reporting and wrestling with these matters, my attitude has
come down this: Having observed the behavior of numerous accountants,
attorneys, elected representatives, bureaucrats and Media types; having
watched friends and acquaintances inquire and argue in good faith time
and again, be ignored and stonewalled time and again, and be trampled in
sham trials in corrupt courts; I am – speaking solely for myself -- no
longer even interested in the existence of an income tax liability
statute. Someone from the government could walk into my home tomorrow
and say, “Ooops! Sorry to take so long to come up with it, but here’s
the statute. Here it is in black and white! You’ve been wrong all along.
Pay up!” Of course this is not going to happen, because, if it could
have happened, it would have happened decades ago. But, if it did
happen, it would change nothing in my mind. I certainly cannot see into
their hearts, and I realize that it is possible that they are decent,
well-meaning folks who are just doing what they have been trained and
brainwashed to do. Nonetheless, I cannot abide a refusal to communicate
in good faith on the part of people who consciously choose to impose
their will upon me; who in the name of “the will of the majority”
attempt to confiscate the lion’s share of the fruits of my labor and put
much of it to uses that utterly violate my conscience – to say nothing
of their own so-called “Constitution.” If government has a purpose in a
“free society,” surely this is not it.

People in the American Establishment (government, Media and
corporations) have had ample opportunity to demonstrate their integrity
and courage by publicly addressing the good-faith concerns of thousands
of fine Americans who have sacrificed so much in these past decades,
attempting to get to the bottom of this income tax liability question.
Yet, instead, what they chose to do was to trample good people under
their dishonest, cowardly, tyrannical feet. This is the American
Establishment – either corrupt or psycho, or some sad combination of
both. People who impose their will on others or manipulate others in the
name of “freedom,” who flatly refuse to answer fair and reasonable
questions and do not respect the honest grievances of those upon whom
they impose their power … well, each must listen to his or her own
heart, but my heart tells me those folks must be absolutely shunned and
resisted at whatever cost one’s heart and personal circumstances may
tolerate; or moral, decent society may be lost in America for as many
generations as the Creator waits to restore it. I will speak my mind and
heart in good faith to anyone, but, as my strength allows, I will flatly
refuse to voluntarily contribute one iota of the fruits of my labor to
those artificial entities that seek to impose their will on myself and
others and carry on their lies and tyranny over mankind. When they
starting speaking in good faith, I may reconsider “doing business” with them; but I’m not holding my breath.