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Opinions and musings of radio talk show host George Woods, currently of Kansas City, MO, on national news and politics and the occasional story from somewhere in America that strikes a chord no matter where you call home. To listen to the George Blog, click the "Listen Here" link at the bottom of the page to download and play today's mp3 audio file on your computer.

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Friday, October 21, 2005

The Federal Mafia

I've been following a trial this week that most people probably haven't heard about. It's in the hands of the jury and I have a feeling that as soon as they reach a verdict, it'll get some national coverage, so I thought I'd give you a sneak preview.

The title of today's Blog, "The Federal Mafia," is the title of the book by the defendant in the case. He's Irwin Schiff and the book is The Federal Mafia: How the Government Illegally Imposes and Unlawfully Collects Income Taxes.

Irwin's been a guest on a couple of radio programs I've hosted, and has been on hundreds of radio talk shows for something like the past twenty years. You may have heard him. He's the guy who sells kits that you're supposed to use to do a couple of things, namely (1) pay no income tax and (2) what to tell the Feds when they come knocking to ask why you haven't been paying your taxes.

According to a report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Irwin

"...conducts seminars and sells videotapes which show people how to file what he calls a "zero return." Schiff advocates listing zero income on tax return forms, regardless of an individual's annual earnings, prosecutors said. A court order has prevented Schiff from selling copies of "The Federal Mafia," since 2003. Schiff's message was apparently embraced by thousands of people who filed tax returns with what prosecutors called "the Schiff attachment."

"Schiff took issue with the government's claim that a conspiracy took place or was planned. There was no secrecy or covert action, Schiff said. His views were publicized through his products and on his radio show, which he used as a platform to issue a challenge for anyone to produce a citation in the law that requires people to pay an income tax. Even when he offered $5,000 as a reward to anyone who could do so, Schiff said there were no takers."

I remember this guy as a nice guy, thoroughly convinced that he is right in saying that there is no law that requires people to file and/ or pay income tax. He says he hasn't paid any income tax since 1973. The problem is that a number of people who have bought his stuff and followed his advice have gone to jail for tax evasion.

There's a lot of talk in Irwin's writings about how paying taxes is voluntary. The best explanation from "the federal mafia" that's been presented to me is that essentially many laws are "voluntary." Here's a simple example: you're supposed to stop at a stop sign right? Your stopping is a voluntary action. There are no policemen permanently stationed at all stop signs to enforce the law. If there happens to be a cop watching one and you blow past it, you get nailed.

This is all a lot of nit-picking about voluntary compliance with laws that are legal and have been on the books for years.

What makes this case especially interesting is that the government is not charging Irwin specifically with tax evasion, but with conspiracy. The Review-Journal says:

"Federal prosecutors are seeking multiple criminal convictions that spring from Schiff's marketing, selling and practice of the idea that the law does not require Americans to pay income tax. Schiff, 77, the owner of Freedom Books in Las Vegas, and two employees...stand accused of conspiring to defraud the federal government."

Conspiracy, not evasion. Will it be "a victory for the little guy" or a guilty verdict for a crook who hides in plain sight?

If it was an evasion charge, I'd go for guilty, but conspiracy? That's a word that conjures up much more malicious imagery, ranging from Enron to Iraq.

In the language of Las Vegas, I'll settle for being the bookmaker on this one, and I'll hold your money for a small fee as you make the call.

But I will keep you posted for free.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Joe American said...

One cannot help but wonder whether or not Schiff is correct in his views on federal income taxes if the government is trying to nail him on conspiracy and not on tax evasion. Could it be that he is correct?

6:45 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

http://irwinschiff.blogspot.com/

3:02 PM  
Blogger jerryhorse said...

George, you are balancing on a precarious fence dividing an overwhelmingly powerful force conceived in Liberty which history will probably confirm to have evolved into Tyrrany unless those on the other side of that fence are allowed to speak their Truth in the face of that Power.
The Schiff trial may well be a watershed in the march of tyranny in the land of the free. Schiff's three decade old battle to expose his version of governmental infringement on individual liberty has been brought to trial in their forum, before their judge and before a jury that seems to want to know the truth for themselves by asking for the "Code." The jury had the courage to ask to read the law when the judge told them that they had to believe his interpretation of the law. In the Land of the Free, I was taught that my country was on the side of honesty, truth and justice.
In my nearly 3 score years on this planet my naivete has been replaced by fair and objective thought. I now believe that freedom is certainly not free and unless we fight against Power, the powerful will corrupt those of honest intentions.
A government that would censor Irwin today, will censor you tomorrow. Do you want to live in a country where you could be imprisoned as a terrorist for expressing your ideas about the war, or be thrown into jail because you have studied the law and the constitution and have been unable to discuss the same in the courtroom that holds your fate?
The patent expression of fear of the truth exhibited by the Court should help you decide which side of the fence you will land.

2:14 AM  
Blogger bw said...

Something smells in Vegas instead of Denmark. If the jury asked to see the code book, but was not allowed, and Irwin was convicted on conspiracy instead of tax evasion, that JUST MIGHT BE because he isn't guilty of tax evasion, eh? Might the jury who I am sure could read, have discovered that there is NOTHING in the tax code that says an "individual" is required to pay "income tax". Only Federal Employees and Corporations must pay that my friends. Wake up and smell the coffee, not the smelly judges.

4:11 PM  

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