Tax protester

From RationalWiki
Revision as of 11:58, 13 March 2010 by Johnharris2 (talk | contribs) (Added a section "What Did Really Happend with Kent Hovind's Court Case" which came directly from a letter sent to me from Kent Hovind whilst in prison.)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
A typical tax protester, yesterday.

Tax protester is a general category to describe anyone who does not believe they are required to pay various taxes. The most commonly disputed tax (in the US) is the income tax. In the United States, tax protesters tend to be largely middle-class conservatives with a libertarian bent. The term "tax protester," while the preferred nomenclature, is somewhat misleading. In more common parlance they might be called tax deniers. Individuals who protest taxes for one reason or another, while not denying the government's right to tax, are called tax resisters.


Tax protesters use pseudolaw and follow many of the same methods as creationists and other denialists in advocating their ideas, including: cherry picking data, pseudohistory, quote mining, and deception. There is actually a strong link between tax protesting and creationist movements, as well as the birthers, militia movement and some white supremacy groups. In November 2006 Kent Hovind, an infamous peddler of creationism, was sentenced to 10 years in jail for not paying income tax [1] (see "What Did Really Happen with Kent Hovind's Court Case?" section below). Many people have made a lot of money selling various schemes for avoiding having to pay taxes. Thousands of videos, books and conferences are offered every year that promise to cure you of a tax burden for a price. One example is that of Irwin Schiff and his site who was sentenced to jail in 2005 for his activities [2]. Not a single argument ever presented by a tax protester has ever been accepted by a court of law as valid.

Tax protesters should be distinguished from tax resisters, who do not deny the government's right to levy taxes, but refuse to pay as a matter of principle, due to their opposition to specific government policies (opposition to public schooling or defense spending are common tropes). Such protesters are rather less likely to espouse right-libertarian politics; some are, indeed, extreme liberals. Tax resistance is a form of civil disobedience, at least when such people are willing to go to jail for the principle. One example of a tax resister is Henry David Thoreau, who refused to pay his poll tax because it supported the Mexican War, which he considered an immoral land grab.

What Did Really Happen with Kent Hovind's Court Case?

Background information

Creation Science Evangelism (CSE) began Jan, 1989 shortly after Kent Hovind and his family moved to Pensacola, FL. The outreach grew quickly and Kent Hovind was soon travelling to all 50 states and over 30 foreign countries. They produced videos and later DVD’s of the creation seminar and allowed people to copy them freely to reach the world. Kent Hovind did over 100 debates with evolutionists, 20 of these are also available on DVD.

In 1999 CSE became part of Faith Baptist Fellowship and the 2 (at the time) properties were transferred into their name. In 2002 Pastor Mooneyhan was retiring and the board of elders voted to disband FBF. To prevent CSE from being “orphaned”, church ministry trusts were created and the property and bank accounts were put in these trusts to give Kent Hovind the freedom to travel and preach as he had been doing 700+ times/year.

What Happened?

Over the many years, Kent Hovind’s wife would withdraw money to pay ministry bills and compensate the people serving in the ministry. In 2002 this stopped. On July 13, 2006, with no warning or notice of any kind that there was or had been a problem, about 20 armed IRS agents swarmed onto the ministry property as Kent Hovind was preparing for staff devotions and his wife was sleeping. Four armed agents surrounded her bed and woke her up to handcuff her in her nightgown. She was not allowed to get dressed, put on a robe or go to the bathroom even though she begged for these simple courtesies.

They were taken to the Federal courthouse and indicted for “structuring”. They had no clue what that even was let alone that it was against some law or that they had broken it. They banked at the same bank and normally at the same teller for over 10 years. They learned later that laws had been passed years ago to try to slow or stop drug dealers from moving large amounts of cash. Any transfers over $10,000 would require the bank to fill out a form and notify the government. Although 4 times Kent Hovind’s wife did take out over $10,000, the bank filled out their form. No problem.

They had also made it illegal to “break down” a large sum into smaller amounts to “evade” this reporting requirement. For example: if you had $25,000 to deposit but broke it down into 3 deposits of less than $10,000 and made 3 deposits at the same or even different banks on the same day you could be found guilty of one count of “structuring” and sentenced to 5 years in prison! As it turns out, the IRS had cherry picked 45 times out of hundreds of transactions over the years that were under $10,000 and charged each one as a separate count of structuring even though they averaged 12 days apart (not same day), were not part of a large amount being “broken down”, were not from drugs or any other illegal trade and were not trying to evade anything. It was money donated or earned in legitimate ways and spent on legitimate ministry bills.

After a two week trial their attorneys advised them not to even give a defence since no laws had been broken and in America, in theory at least, you are innocent till proven guilty. It is not illegal to take any amount of money out of your own bank!

As Kent Hovind’s attorney was giving his closing argument he was reading the jury instruction verbatim that said the amount had to be over $10,000 in order to structure a transaction. The Assistant US Attorney stood up and objected to her own jury instruction! The judge took a 45 minute recess and returned with a new jury instruction that said if they found that Kent Hovind and his wife have taken out less than $10,000 then they must be found as guilty! Kent Hovind and his wife’s attorneys objected since this was not what the law said and changing jury instructions after trial is against the rules. The objections were overruled and they were found guilty. Kent Hovind was given 10 years and his wife a year and a day. She was released to a Half-Way House Oct. 1, and sent home in December 2009.

If this case is not overturned, anyone who takes any money out of their own bank will eventually be guilty of structuring. If you took $100 out each week for 100 weeks you would be guilty of 100 counts of structuring and could be given 500 years in prison!

To make matters worse, the government said all the money withdrawn in those 45 counts should be given to them – even though the government admitted that the money was used for legal purposes!

Kent Hovind’s attorneys objected since there were no drugs involved, the money was earned in legitimate ways and spent on ministry bills years go. There was never a tax loss to the government. The fellow ministers at CSE testified that they had paid all taxes they owed. There were no damages and no one can figure out what this money was “owed” to the government for but the judge overruled the objections. So now, Kent Hovind was not only in prison, but he also owed $430,000!

When the government asked for permission to seize the CSE ministry property, the attorneys and the trustees objected and asked for a hearing or trial. This was denied and after letting the government’s motion sit on the desk for 7 ½ months, the judge ruled that Yes, they can seize CSE property to pay this “Debt”.

Extra Information - PRA

Paperwork Reduction Act – 1980 and 1995 44USC 3507-12 says all forms that request information must state 6 things (Reason for request, date of expiration, etc) and they all expire 3 years after OMB# is assigned.

All three forms: CIR, 940 & 941 forms that Kent Hovind is in prison for, were expired forms. The PRA says he cannot be penalized for not filling out a form that is expired yet he is still in prison. If the SC rules for them on this one it will not only free him and remove forfeiture but will help thousands of others currently in prison. The PRA can be raised as a complete defence at any time, even post convictions.

This case is one of the first to bring this issue before the SC since the 1995 PRA was passed. This issue is HUGE for many and will cause even the government to obey the law. See www.penaltyprotestor.comfor lots more on the PRA. The 11th circ. ignored this issue in their denial of his appeal. Just the PRA alone will remove 57 of the 58 counts Kent Hovind is in prison for. Count 58 was for “threatening” an IRS agent in the “DUE administration” of his duty. When he was asked during trial how Kent Hovind threatened him, he said it was when he prayed for him in his daily radio program! Kent Hovind got 3 years for that!


The claims of these groups will appear in italics, refutations in regular text. [3]

  • Variations on the theme that America's Founding Fathers did not believe that governments had taxation powers.
    • Not true, the issue at stake was the Crown's ability to levy taxes on the American colonies, not, say, Williamsburg's ability to tax Virginians.
  • That the 16th Amendment was not ratified because Ohio wasn't a state, and thus didn't get the requisite number of states to approve of it.
    • This argument relies on a slight technicality that Congress forgot to pass a resolution declaring Ohio a state in 1803 and that Ohio only became a state in 1953. If this were true, than why did Ohioans have Senators and Congressmen? Also it would not have mattered any way since 41 other states ratified it anyway with the minimum being 36.
  • It violates the 13th Amendment's prohibition of "involuntary servitude."
  • Variants on claims like there is no law for an income tax or that the Internal Revenue Code does not actually say income.
    • There are in fact several laws saying what is and is not taxable.
  • Income taxes are voluntary.
    • Stems from a misreading of a case where somebody did not file his 1040, but then demanded his full refund. Voluntary in this case actually means that the person has to go and calculate it him or herself, otherwise, no refund, or massive audit.


Gordon Kahl was a tax protester associated with the Posse Comitatus movement who died in a 1983 shootout with Arkansas police. Law enforcement had attempted to arrest him outside of his homwtown of Medina, North Dakota but he (or two others with him) shot two U.S. marshals and he fled in a stolen Medina police car to Arkansas, where he died four months later in another shootout with law enforcement. Kahl had failed to pay income taxes for several years and had previously (1977) spent eight months in prison on tax evasion charges; the attempted 1983 arrest was for violation of his parole by continuing to fail to file his federal taxes. The exact order of events during the Medina shootout is hotly disputed with Medina's local police officers offering a different version than federal marshals, and Medina police and federal marshals each blaming the other for botching the arrest.[4]

Aaron Russo (d. 27 August 2007), an "independent" filmmaker who owed taxes in three states, released a documentary called America: Freedom to Fascism[5], which has become a rallying cry for many tax protesters. Russo unquestionably regurgitated all of the classic arguments, misconceptions and lies.

In 2007 a major standoff occurred in the town of Plainfield, NH, between convicted tax evaders Ed and Elaine Brown and the federal government. The Browns sealed themselves up in their fortified compound of a home and promised the "next Waco" if the government tried to arrest them. Tax protesters and other anti-government cranks, including Randy Weaver of Ruby Ridge fame, flocked to the Browns' residence to bring guns and supplies. [6] The Browns were taken into custody without incident on 4 October 2007 by US Marshals posing as supporters.

Tax protesters are occasionally acquitted; for example, the June 2007 not guilty verdict against Louisiana attorney Tommy Cryer, which became something of a rallying point for the movement. Cryer did not attempt to argue there is no law making him liable for income tax. Instead, he used what has come to be known as the "cheek defense," essentially claiming that he did not know that he had to file and could not have willfully failed to file. The opinion of tax experts is that Cryer was acquitted based on an incompetent prosecution that failed to demonstrate that Cryer was aware of the need to file. Civilly, Cryer was still found to be liable for back taxes, fees, and interest and is currently raising money to pay off his taxes.

All acquittals have come from jury trials for criminal conduct. These acquittals range from Cheek defenses like Cryer to jury nullification in cases where it seems defendants have convinced a few jury members of their arguments. The important point is that "not guilty" verdicts by juries do not have anything to do with the status of the law nor are they precedent setting. No matter of law has ever been decided in favor of a tax protester and even with an acquittal for criminal conduct the civil liability of taxes has always been met.

Recently, Wesley Snipes and his lawyers got jail time for failing to pay income tax[7] and creationist Kent Hovind is currently in federal prison for not paying his taxes.

British Poll Tax

The attempt by Margaret Thatcher to tax everyone equally, without regard to income, wealth or consumption, even including the sick and unemployed, was resisted by campaigns of tax refusal from both left- and right-wing parts of society. This form of taxation was officially known as the "Community Charge", but was widely referred to as the "Poll Tax". Attempts to collect arrears using bailiffs were often met with physical resistance and several, often elderly, protestors went to jail for their refusal to pay the tax. Ultimately, a major riot in London's Trafalgar Square over the issue, and Thatcher's refusal to change her mind, led to her own party removing her from office.

Note that the Poll Tax was not a replacement for income tax: it was a tax used to fund services at a local level, and has been replaced by the current Council Tax (which is also quite unpopular[8]).

See also

External links

  • The Tax Protester FAQ, considered the definitive online reference (outside the US income tax law of course) on legal arguments used by US tax protesters


  1. Kent Hovind, ‘Dr. Dino,’ guilty on all counts (retrieved February 2009)
  2. USDOJ on Schiff
  3. You can learn more about bullshit at this website:
  4. See It's All About Power by Darrell Graf and Steve Schnabel (ISBN 0-942323-31-9) for the Medina police version
  5. The video can be viewed in it's entirety at Google video.
  6. Union leader article on the Browns
  7. CNN Money: Snipes's jail time
  8. Unless you're a grubby student and don't have to pay it.