Someone going by the name “Consent Withdrawn” stopped by The Picket Line and offered to share the ups and downs of his own experiment in tax resistance with us. It is a detailed account of one resister trying to refine his techniques as he learns more about the IRS enforcement system and about how better to harmonize his tactics with his goals and ethical stance, and it’s also an interesting look at the often odd and arbitrary actions of the IRS when it encounters a tax resister:
Hi Dave, let me begin by saying what an inspiration your website The Picket Line has been to me. Thank you for your courage, thoroughness and diligence in maintaining your site. If you don’t mind indulging me a moment, I’d like to share my journey with you:
First some background: Like you, I am a tax resister and although I was one in spirit most of my adult life, I finally became one in practice about four years ago. Unlike you, I am unfortunately not self-employed and therefore have had to experience firsthand the levying of my wages for back taxes due and of course that risk will continue as long as I remain “legally” employed. I do believe I have managed to protect myself from any other form of seizure however. My place of employment requires direct deposit of my wages (so much for work place democracy, what a joke) and therefore I am forced to have a bank account. What I have done is to have a non-interest bearing checking account opened in the name (and of course Social Security number) of a trusted family member who is sympathetic to my convictions. My pay is deposited into that account and my payments are made from that account as well. I still maintain my own checking account, however, and since the bank does not require a minimum balance on non-interest bearing checking accounts, I keep a balance at two cents in the account as a symbolic message to the IRS should they ever attempt to seize the account.
I am also no longer a property owner so there is no danger of having my home seized or a lien put on my property. I guess my vehicle is at risk of seizure; however it is an older model with high mileage and probably not worth much. I am considering having it put in another person’s name anyway after I figure out if the insurance can be in my name even if I’m not the vehicle owner. Also, I maintain a different mailing address for all official mail than the address where I reside and have my vehicle parked. Either way, I don’t worry too much about having my vehicle seized because the IRS will levy my wages before they’d try to seize an old, high mileage vehicle.
I do have a 401k plan; however, again, I doubt the IRS will come after that when wage garnishment is an available option. If or when I become self-employed, I may have to be more aggressive in “hiding” my car and my 401k.
Now, on to my story: As I mentioned at the outset, I have been a tax resister in spirit for most of my adult life, but I paid my taxes and kept my opinions basically to myself. I had a very conformist first wife, eventually a son and a house and therefore needed to be respectable and law abiding. I was also not very informed or ill-informed on the evils and atrocities of the American Empire. But several events in my life caused me to question almost everything I believed in up to that point and although it was about a ten year process, I am no longer the man I was before. I’d like to think I am more socially aware, courageous, and moral then I was before, although many who can’t think outside of their comfortable self-imposed parameters would probably disagree. I no longer care one iota about being a law-abiding citizen. Now I am more concerned about being a good human being and trying to do my small part to make the world better and more just and one part of that expression is tax-resistance.
My reasons for tax-resistance are not one dimensional. I oppose taxation as much for the reason that tax money is used to bail out Wall Street as I do for the reason it is used to fund imperial wars and human slaughter. I am incensed by the discovery many multinational corporations, while reaping billions in profit, paid little or no income tax and even received refunds, while hard-working people who are not doing well in the current economic crisis are being forced to pay and aggressively pursued if they don’t. From a more philosophical perspective, I am a firm believer in the Kantian principle that people should be ends in themselves, and not means to an end. Taxation that does not benefit all equally reduces people who pay taxes to little more than a means to an end and renders them slaves. Additionally, in a nation in which the government’s power, including the power to tax, is derived by the consent of the governed, the question as to when and in what manner one has consented to taxation becomes a legitimate question; one in which I have never received a satisfactory answer for.
In I was in the process of divorcing my second wife and I (foolishly perhaps) took some money out of my retirement account to pay off some debt and the cost of the divorce. I did this without having the taxes withheld. Additionally, my wife had collected unemployment benefits for a portion of and had received the benefits pretax. That was the last year I filed jointly and my former wife handled the task. She neglected to claim the taxes not paid on her unemployment benefits or my retirement withdrawal and as a result, we received a refund. It was the repayment of this refund money, interest and penalties added that led three years later to my wages being levied to a tune of just over $4,000 total. I have since come to believe that even if the amount owed had been a few hundred dollars, the IRS would have been just as aggressive since this was the repossession of an erroneous refund and not a tax payment withheld, which is probably a less serious affront to the IRS’s overblown ego.
My reason for believing that the IRS is more aggressive in repossession of erroneous refunds, than taxes withheld (probably under a certain amount obviously) is because beginning in , I have either not filed at all, or filed a blank, unsigned return and have not yet had my wages levied. In , I neglected to file completely and never received any correspondence from the IRS. In I again neglected to file, however sometime after , perhaps in sometime, I received a large packet from the IRS. I remember being quite anxious as I opened it, not knowing what to expect. It was blank 1040 forms and the filing guidebook. I was relieved to find that was all it was and proceeded to deliberate as to what my next step would be. I had recently declared myself an individual secessionist and had my name expunged from the voting rolls and thought, naïvely perhaps, that filing the tax forms the IRS sent me would mean consenting again to be under the authority of the State. You see, for me individual secession had more far reaching implications than just not voting. But, I also was fearful of what would happen if I refused. I decided to send a blank, unsigned 1040 back to the IRS along with my W2. It was my way of compromising. I filed, but I didn’t do it in an explicitly consensual way. I did not hear from the IRS on my taxes due, but in , I did receive from my place of employment, a notice of intent to levy my wages for the “refund” my ex-wife and I received in . I never received the standard warnings and certified mail because they were persuing my ex-wife and she must have gotten those notices.
When came around, I decided again to send in a blank, unsigned 1040 along with my W2. I did this because I was still a neophyte tax resister (still am, I suppose) and also because I was at that time still having my wages levied. I have since, thanks in a large part to The Picket Line, become more emboldened about my tax resistance tactics. I mailed my blank return on . Sometime thereafter, I received a letter from the IRS stating that if I did not include all the pertinent information on the tax return, they would calculate it for me with the result that I would miss out on deductions I might qualify for, etc.. I ignored the letter. In when I received a form (CP51A) from IRS showing that they calculated my tax and after what my employer deducted from my paycheck, I still owed $1,173.16. Again I was faced with a decision. My first thought was to ignore the letter and let the IRS proceed to levy my wages again. In retrospect, I wish I had, but again, I was a bit less confident about this than I am now. I decided to send a check for $100.00. There was an offer to contact the IRS and set up a payment plan, but I wasn’t going to play that game; I’d make my own payment plan, thank you very much. in , I received a second notice (Form CP501) with my new balance due minus my payment, but, get this: the IRS showed I made a bigger payment than the $100.00 I actually paid and therefore a smaller balance due remained. Maybe there really is a God! Anyway, I proceeded to write a second check for $100.00 and mailed it off to the IRS. In a more urgent letter arrived (Form CP503) with my balance due and this time the correct payment amount reflected and again I sent off a check for $100.00. About a month or so later, I received notice of a certified letter waiting for me at the Post Office. Being pretty certain it was from the IRS, I decided to ignore it. A second notice came a few days later and again I ignored it. It was during this time that I had the checking account opened in another person’s name and liquidated my account of all but two cents. I braced myself for another wage levy notice from work but as of this time, none has been forthcoming. Perhaps because the amount due, even if their error is discovered and corrected is under $1000.00.
This brings us to . I had planned again to submit a blank, unsigned form as I had done in and , but decided with the continued and escalating wars and after learning about all the “legal” corporate tax “evasions” that I will not be filing at all this year. Just two weeks later, I received a packet from the IRS with tax forms and the guide book. My trusty paper shredder had a busy evening that night.
I wrote to you first of all to thank you because your website has been an invaluable resource to me. Additionally by reading your story and the testimonies of others on your site or its links has given me a sense of not being alone and also the much needed encouragement to stay the course. Also, I gladly extend the offer for you to post all or parts of my story on your site so that through the sharing of my story perhaps I can be an encouragement to others. Whatever you decide, you have my most humble gratitude and deepest respect.