New NWTRCC Newsletter and Other Tax Resistance News

A new edition of NWTRCC’s newsletter is out, with content including:

Here are some more details on the passport-revocation front, as found in a recent Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration report.

According to the details of the newish law concerning passports and tax scofflaws, when the amount of someone’s overdue taxes rises above a certain threshold ($52,000 last I checked), the IRS must notify the State Department, whereupon the State Department must not issue a new passport to that scofflaw or renew their existing passport (unless the scofflaw is taking certain specified steps to pay up or contest the tax debt), and may revoke any existing passport that person has.

That’s all the law allows for. It does not specify under what circumstances the State Department should revoke existing passports, or even mandate that they do so at all. It is merely an option. Now it emerges that the IRS hopes to put more teeth into that provision on its own initiative. It plans to send requests to the State Department, on a case-by-case basis, asking State to revoke the passports from people the IRS believes might thereby be prodded into paying what they owe.

This process is not something that was explicitly authorized by the law, but TIGTA didn’t seem to think that was a problem. “There is no law or regulation that directly authorizes the IRS to prioritize taxpayers to be referred to the State Department for revocation; however, we believe it is reasonable for the IRS to provide the State Department with taxpayers for possible revocation to comply with the law.”

In other news:

  • One of the tools the IRS uses against tax scofflaws like myself is to file a federal tax lien in the local court system of the scofflaw. This puts creditors and the local legal system on notice that the IRS intends to step in and assert its rights to seize money. This can make it difficult to get credit, and also makes it easier for the feds to seize anything awarded by the courts in lawsuits, probate resolution, etc. However (and this is where it gets interesting and newsworthy), filing a lien costs money. And the IRS thinks several California counties are charging them too much, and so they have started to refuse to pay. In response, some counties are refusing to process the IRS liens. Alas, this filing fee, and the standoff between the bureaucracies, also applies to paperwork to release a previously-filed lien. So this doesn’t always work in the scofflaw’s favor. Here’s some news coverage:
  • War tax resister Larry Bassett was interviewed on the Parallax Views podcast. Bassett is the subject of the recent documentary film The Pacifist and is responsible for the largest known individual act of war tax resistance, in terms of the amount of dollars resisted at once.
  • Another Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration report points out that reduced IRS resources means collapsing tax enforcement capability. “As more taxpayers experience little to no consequences for non-filing, the long-term impacts may include potential erosion of the voluntary compliance rate.”
  • Via a review by Ariel Jurow Kleiman of Marjorie E. Kornhauser’s American Voices in a Changing Democracy: Women, Lobbying, and Tax 1924–1936, I learned of a “Meat Strike” meant to protest New Deal-era taxes on meat processing by boycotting meat purchases. The offensive tax was eventually thrown out as unconstitutional.
  • The IRS issued an update to its estimate of the “tax gap” (the difference between how much tax people are supposed to pay and how much they do pay). The upshot is that they think little has changed: people pay about 84% of what the agency believes they owe. However, the last time I looked at the details of one of these “tax gap” reports, I noticed a lot of hand-waving, guesswork, and extrapolation, and only a little empirical data collection, so I would recommend taking these numbers with a grain of salt.
  • More attacks on traffic ticket issuing radar cameras — in France & Italy; Mexico, Germany, and France; and France again. Revenue from the cameras is only half of what the government had hoped for and budgeted for in France this year, and the government has had to divert some of that money to installing more heavily-fortified cameras.
  • The simple home of war tax resistance legends Juanita & Wally Nelson in Deerfield, Massachusetts has been restored as a “living memorial” to the inspirational couple.
  • The 15th International Conference on War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns will be held in Edinburgh. The last such conference was held in in Bogotá, Colombia.