Updated January 14, 2004

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Growing Protest Movement Too Much for Revenuers


By John Tiffany


The Internal Revenue Service seems to be having a tough time keeping up with the growing number of Americans who question the validity of the income tax and refuse to pay. The recent court case of a California manufacturer charged with failing to withhold income taxes from employees’ paychecks signals a new trend that federal authorities would like to quash. But it may be too difficult to stop now.

In 2000, Al Thompson told employees of his factory, Cencal Aviation Products, that the tax laws are bogus and that he would no longer withhold taxes from their paychecks.

Four years later, the Justice Department’s tax division is now targeting Thompson for what they say is willful failure to file tax returns. They want him to turn over more than $500,000.

The case “illustrates some of the reasons that tax evasion is growing, despite repeated statements by the IRS that it is cracking down on those who deny the legitimacy of the tax laws. The Internet, antigovernment news organizations and dwindling law enforcement resources are all factors in the spread of the tax-denial movement,” wrote New York Times reporter David Cay Johnston in an article syndicated in multiple newspapers across the country.

While the proliferation of groups questioning the validity of income taxes is on the rise, claims that the IRS has reduced its enforcement are not entirely true.

The IRS is budgeted $10.2 billion annually for collection efforts.

Horrifying accounts of heavily armed IRS goon squads falsely targeting innocent U.S. businessmen in the late 1990s forced the agency to scale back its efforts. However, since then, enforcement actions have risen dramatically.

And a new measure passed by Congress in December, which was buried in a weighty appropriations bill, allows the IRS to hire private debt collection firms to target people suspected of failing to pay their income tax—and keep 25 percent of the money.

Officials estimate that the IRS cannot collect hundreds of billions of dollars in income taxes, and that number is growing. This reminds us of the sainted Dr. Martin A. Larson who dreamed of the day of a genuine American tax strike to bring the feds to heel.

Happily, there is a resurgence of anti-war tax protesters.

Recently, the groups Austin Conscientious Objectors to Military Taxation and National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee received some publicity in an article written by Greg Moses for the anti-war Internet site, Texans for Peace. The organizations provide information to Americans about how they can withhold a portion of their income taxes to protest the federal government’s war budgets.

Could this signal the beginning of the end for the revenuers?


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