Maggie Gyllenhaal as a Vivacious Tax Resister in “Stranger Than Fiction”

I saw Stranger Than Fiction last night. Basically a cute romantic comedy thing with a smattering of cosmic gee-whiz. It’s of note here because the romantic interest of the lead character is a tax resister.

The protagonist is an IRS agent. They meet when he audits her. One of the movie’s plots involves him leaving his dull cubicle agency behind, picking up the guitar, winning over the sexy tax resister, and engaging in a more-worthwhile life. The movie’s audience, then, is rooting for him to turn his back on the IRS and embrace the tax resister.

There’s not much explicit about tax resistance in the movie, and what is there is sketchy and inaccurate, but the way the film gathers tax resistance in the same bucket with “sexy, young, spirited, happy, life-embracing, nourishing, generous,” and contrasts this with the IRS, which gets to share its bucket with things like “cubicles, regimentation, obsessive-compulsive behavior, sterile fluorescent lighting, denial, persecution, coldness,” and the like — well, that there’s some good publicity.

, I made note of a tax dodge that large companies and cities were colluding in. The cities would sell or lease out big hunks of municipal infrastructure, then lease the infrastructure back from the companies. The cities would make some money up-front on the deal, while the companies would gain a bunch of tax write-offs.

The IRS has been known to frown on big transactions that don’t seem to have any practical value to anyone outside of the tax dodge angle, and they frowned on these.

But the lawyers for the companies were better than the lawyers for the cities, and they structured these things so that if the IRS cracked down, it would be the cities holding the bag. The IRS did end up banning the practice, but existing contracts were left intact.

In addition, many of these schemes were insured by the now-assploded insurance company AIG — and in the wake of its collapse, the companies who partnered with cities in these plans were entitled to demand huge fees from the cities.

Now Congress seems to be planning to include a bailout of these schemes in the upcoming auto industry rescue. Will tomorrow’s taxpayers remember, do you think, that they’re paying interest on a bailout of a collapsed illegal tax dodge scheme?

Kat Kanning has written a piece about the importance of small, individual steps in the direction of big, political goals. “My point is that it doesn’t have to be big — just do something so you’re not a 100% compliant victim. How can you begin your resistance? Here are a few not-too-dangerous suggestions…”

, I noted the release on-line of an old, silent docudrama film about the Whiskey Rebellion. The Prelinger Archives have just released another old silent film of some interest, this time a comedy: The Moonshiner.

“There’s Revenue Officers in the mountains, look-out — A Friend.”

A note: “There’s Revenue Officers in the mountains, look-out — A Friend.”

“We swear to kill every Revenue dog in the mountains.”

“We swear to kill every Revenue dog in the mountains.”

Our bumbling protagonist stumbles on the bootleggers’ still

“Up with your mitts, you moonshiner.”

And is stumbled on himself: “Up with your mitts, you moonshiner.”