(originally launched into cyberspace on 05/21/2008)
Time for another tidbit from my newly-released book, "Kicking the
When I was tried for "willful failure to file," the ONLY thing the
jury needed to decide was whether I BELIEVED that my income was
taxable (and therefore believed I that was required to file tax
returns). If I believed I wasn't required to file, there was no
crime, whether I was right or not, because of the "willfulness"
issue. So the government had the burden of proving that I BELIEVED
that I owed the tax.
Well, the government's entire case consisted of saying that federal
paper-pushers had TOLD me that I owed the tax. But how can their
words possibly prove what I believe? They can't, obviously, but
that wasn't the half of it. At the trial, two of the government's
main witnesses testified about administrative meetings they had
with me, at which I explained my position and asked them to tell me
on which points they disagreed. The government wanted the jury to
hear that these people had "told" me that my position was
incorrect, and that my income was taxable. However, on cross-
examination, the government's witnesses admitted that:
1) They never quoted anything from the law supporting their
2) I quoted lots of statutes and regulations supporting mine.
3) They were not familiar with the sections of law I showed them.
4) They could not answer my questions about the proper application
of the law.
5) They could not decide the specifics of their OWN position
6) They said they would get back to me (and never did).
(At Tessa's trial, one of the IRS agents even admitted that she
found MY position "somewhat persuasive." I can't return the
So should that have convinced me that my conclusions were wrong? At
the meeting, after carefully explaining my position, providing
numerous supporting citations at every step, should I have been
persuaded by such a display of ignorance, uncertainty, and evasion?
Well, as it happens, at the meeting I asked the IRS agents exactly
that, and here is what happened (from the transcript of the
Me: “You personally have had my [Taxable Income] report for weeks.
The Service has had my report for more than a year. This argument
has been around for several years. And, as I understand it, there
are special sections of the IRS devoted to trying to come up with a
response to this. Now, you’re implying that I owe you something and
that I have some requirement to file, and in your letter you even
mentioned that you were gonna ask me to file later returns. Is this
really what’s supposed to persuade me here?”
Cathy Spaulding (IRS): “No.”
Me: “Am I supposed to be persuaded by this?”
Cathy Spaulding (IRS): “No, we’re not saying you’re supposed to be
How nice of them to admit that they didn't expect their bungling
incompetence to persuade me. And what do you think the jury at my
trial thought when they saw that?
Well, the jury never saw that quote, nor did they hear the audio-
recording of it. You see, while the IRS employees were allowed to
inaccurately testify about what happened at the meetings, I was NOT
allowed to show the jury the actual transcripts, or play the actual
recordings of those meetings. (This was despite the fact that no
one was disputing the authenticity of either.) So the jury never
saw or heard the IRS employees admitting that even THEY didn't
think that their uncertain, evasive yammerings should have
convinced me that I was wrong. And yet the government's entire
"proof" of my crime was that such clueless bureaucrats had ASSERTED
that I was wrong, so how could I possibly believe otherwise?
I'll be sharing more tidbits of the surreal tale in the coming
days. For the whole story, order your own copy of "Kicking the
Dragon (Confessions of a Tax Heretic)," via mail at the address
below (cost is $22, including shipping and handling), or online athttp://www.kickingthedragon.com
P.O. Box 653
Huntingdon Valley, PA 19006