Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tax Deniers and Tax Defiers

Having just reviewed my 2009 tax returns, I was in an appropriate frame of mind to enjoy this article from the New York Times Magazine (March 29, 2009) about the tax-denial movement. Nobody likes paying taxes, but some people take this emotion to extremes, including one man who went so far as to send a firebomb to the I.R.S., for which he went to prison. People who do not believe in paying taxes have crafted a number of ingenious and sometimes bizarre arguments to support their position. These arguments unusually lose in court, but as soon as one argument loses favor, another one is put forth and enjoys temporary popularity until it too is shot down. The article offers fascinating insights into the motivations of individuals who believe passionately that the federal government does not have the power to tax them.


Betsy McKenzie said...

The IRS is very serious about confronting each and every argument. See this page at their website: http://www.irs.gov/compliance/enforcement/article/0,,id=130623,00.html title Nonfiler Investigations - Criminal Investigations. When I was co-teaching Tax Research and Practice with Prof. Anthony Polito, he commented once that the IRS would consider prosecuting even graffiti in the margins of a tax return commenting that taxes were illegal or unconstitutional, or that you wanted your taxes used only for non-war purposes, for example. I have not found any such regulations, but I am not sure they don't exist.

Marie S. Newman said...

Frankly, I have never thought it was a good idea to add anything, such as comments or graffiti to my tax return, that might bring attention to it and increase my chances of being audited. You're right--the IRS is vigorous about pursuing every argument, as the article makes clear.