Where Are the “Show Me the Law” Tax Protesters Today?

A New York Times article on , though mostly about the “show me the law” tax protester movement, included this interesting item:

Some years ago, the IRS did pursue organizations that publicly declared they would not withhold taxes. One prominent case was a church with a national following, the Indianapolis Baptist Temple.

Unlike churches that accept tax-deductible donations, the church contended that it answered only to God and not to any government, and therefore it was not required to withhold taxes from its employees’ paychecks. The IRS demanded payment, and federal judges ruled that the church owed $3.6 million in taxes for , plus interest. Federal marshals seized the parsonage on and are authorized to seize the church itself, which members are now occupying in protest.

The rest of the article concerns businesses that had stopped withholding taxes for their employees, under the theory that their employees didn’t owe these taxes. The implication of the article was that these employers were getting away with it because the IRS was neglecting to go after them. (The protesters own theory was that the IRS was not going after them because they were in the right and the agency had no authority to do so.)

But here is what has since happened to the tax protesters mentioned in the article:

Al Thompson
Convicted in of 13 tax law violations and sentenced to 72 months in prison.
Joe R. Banister
Acquitted in of a count of conspiracy in connection with his work with Thompson, lost his CPA license and was disbarred from representing clients in cases with the IRS.
Irwin Schiff
“He has lost several civil cases against the federal government and has a record of multiple convictions for various federal tax crimes. Schiff is serving a 13-plus year sentence for tax crimes…”
Dick Simkanin
Convicted in of 29 tax law violations and sentenced to seven years behind bars, then reimprisoned this year for violating the terms of his release (he remains in prison today).

The Vote

From the issue of The Vote:

Tax Resistance and Votes for Women.

Madam. — Since the outbreak of war, in accordance with the advice of the late committee of The Women’s Tax Resistance League, and with my own ideas, I have promptly paid any taxes for which I have been assessed. I suppose that the majority of suffragist tax resisters — actuated by patriotic motives — have done the same, not because they have in any way changed their views regarding the unjustifiableness of arbitrary taxation, but for patriotic reasons — because they wished to contribute, in proportion to their incomes, to the expenses of the war. That, at any rate, was my idea, and I notified the authorities accordingly, leaving unpaid a small balance which represented “pre-war” income tax. I did this because it was the only way I could think of to show that I had not conceded the principle.

To-day I have been served with a writ, at the suit of His Majesty’s Attorney General, for the recovery of this small pre-war balance. Not only so, but the Government has taken steps effectually to put an end to any form of tax resistance, on the part of salaried persons, in the future. Their Finance (No. 3) Bill provides that—

If any person fails to pay the amount of any income tax assessed and charged on him… within one month after a demand has been made for the tax… commissioners may cause notice to be served on any employer by whom the person from whom the tax is due is for the time being employed, setting out the said facts and directing that employer to pay over to the commissioners, as the remuneration of the person employed becomes due, such proportion of that remuneration (not exceeding one-quarter thereof) as may be required by the notice until the amount due is satisfied.

The employer shall pay… any amount so directed to be paid, notwithstanding the provisions of any Act or any contract to the contrary, and that amount, if not paid, may be recovered as a debt due to His Majesty from the employer.

In this way has the Government taken advantage of a time of truce to deprive salaried suffragists of their only weapon of defence. Our action since the war, dictated by reasons of patriotism, has, as usual, been misunderstood by the authorities, who have regarded it as an indication that we have conceded the principle for which we have been fighting so long. Yours, etc.,

Marie Lawson.
17, Upper Bedford-place, W.C., .

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