The Internet has always been a hotbed of wacky but harmless ideas. That’s not the case with the anti-tax movement: These money-saving schemes can cost you everything
Digital Journal — Each April, we remember Benjamin Franklin’s theory on the inevitability of death and taxes. But for those who believe that they can avoid paying income tax through clever loopholes, Franklin’s quote becomes just another government conspiracy.
Paul and Myrna Schuck once tried to convince an Alberta court that the postage stamps they had stuck to their clothes made them equivalent to royalty, and therefore not subject to taxation. Kent Hovind, an evangelist in a Creationist ministry, tried to avoid paying taxes by revoking his American citizenship, claiming to be “a natural sojourner” whose income belonged to God. In August, Royal LaMarr Hardy of Honolulu was sentenced to 13 years in jail for tax fraud and conspiracy. Since 1985, his so-called tax research foundation had convinced thousands of gullible people that filing taxes is
a voluntary decision.
These are the “detaxers,” and their numbers are — to borrow a phrase
from Altoids — curiously strong.
Each year, the Internal Revenue Service and Canada Revenue Agency litigate against hundreds of ordinary citizens who get caught up in tax-evasion schemes promising the impossible. With the growth of the Internet, anti-tax hucksters, who would normally be confined to society’s fringes, reach millions of people understandably frustrated with paying taxes.
These schemers offer everything from literature, to fake “tax-exempt” identification, to quasi-lawyerly services transforming you into a sovereign citizen not beholden to tax laws. Many offer memberships in shady “privacy clubs,” offshore tax havens where you can dump your worldly goods.
The detax movement faces a problem amidst all these promises: Every single disciple is inevitably caught, leading to heavy fines and often jail time.
And tax evaders rarely hold up very well in the prison shower.
Yet this movement continues to thrive. Nobody knows the exact number, but some estimate tens of thousands of taxpayers have been attracted to these schemes over the years, employing them to various degrees. Many arguments put forth by tax resisters are unusual and occasionally surreal. They would be hilarious, if they weren’t so potentially devastating to their naive devotees — and if they weren’t wasting other taxpayers’ money with their courtroom antics.
One notorious anti-taxer, a “David-Wynn: Miller,” sold people on the idea that they can avoid paying taxes by putting tricky punctuation on their tax return forms. Using a home-grown, “mathematically based” language he calls The Truth, Miller convinced a number of clients that adding hyphens and colons to their names turns them from ordinary taxable humans into “prepositional phrases.” No judge has ever fallen for this nonsense, and based on the number of Truth-talkers who have been tossed in prison, it’s become evident just how half-coloned this idea is.
This is just one of many ridiculous schemes concocted by tax resisters over the years. America, after all, was in some ways built on tax resistance: The 18th-century rowdies who sparked the Boston Tea Party and Whiskey Rebellion are today considered textbook patriots. But the modern frothing over income tax stems from a more ominous historical footnote, one more closely associated with backwoods militias, sealed-off compounds and lynch mobs on horseback.
Many of today’s detax gurus, including Irwin Schiff and Eldon-Gerald: Warman, have been linked — in ideology, if not hypertext — to earlier anti-government movements like Christian Identity and the Posse Comitatus. These ultra-right wing movements terrorized the Midwest in the 1970s, advocating the murder of IRS agents and, well, pretty much anyone not white. Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh got his introduction to wacko-hood through tax resistance associations. David Icke, the superstar conspiracy theorist who wrote The Biggest Secret: The Book That Will Change the World, is a longstanding hater of both taxes and the Zionist-vampire-lizards who supposedly control the global banking industry. Thanks to the incestuous nature of the Internet, Icke and his ilk are guaranteed some sort of following — at least until their domains expire.
It’s tough to say where this movement is headed. On one hand, the Web will always provide a home for conspiracists, con artists and get-rich-quick schemers. On the other, citizens have more information than ever to expose these hucksters. The IRS and CRA now post regular fraud alerts and litigation stories on their home pages, and it seems another “Most Wanted” detaxer is busted every few weeks.
So next time you sit down to pay your taxes, do it with a smile. After all, the alternatives are much, much worse.
TOP 5 DETAXER CLAIMS
These tactics have all been employed by tax protesters over the years and have been consistently struck down, resulting in heavy fines, repossession and sometimes incarceration:
“Income tax is voluntary. So bite me.”
"Paper money isn’t real. Only gold coins are.”
“I only follow the law of the Bible…maybe the Magna Carta.”
“As a corporation sole (like the Pope), I am not a taxpayer. Cool, eh?”
“The unusual dash spelling comma of my colon name means you’ve got the wrong guy, period.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
This article is part of Digital Journal's national magazine edition. Pick up your copy of Digital Journal in bookstores across Canada and the United States! Or subscribe to Digital Journal now, and receive 8 issues for $29.95 GST ($48.95 USD)!