Fed Up Oakland Shopkeeper Says “No More Taxes From Me”

Occasionally you see someone refusing to pay taxes as a sort of “breach of contract”-style protest against the government. An Oakland, California hardware store owner is taking such a stand:

The owner of an Oakland store is refusing to charge customers sales tax in protest to what he considers is a lack of response to violent crime from the city.

“State Senator Don Perata was carjacked less than two blocks away from our store,” said Scott Silvera, who owns Scout Home Hardware at 51st and Telegraph in North Oakland.

Silvera is disturbed that merchants on the block have been robbed at gunpoint.

Last week when a 10-year-old boy was paralyzed during his piano lesson by a stray bullet, the police pursuit ended in front of the hardware store.

In response, Silvera launched a tax protest. He’s not collecting city and state sales taxes unless things change to address crime.

Silvera said he knows his defiance could land him in jail, but he hopes his protest inspires others to do something to make a positive difference in their community.

The IRS has just released its audit figures for . Audits are up across-the-board. This in spite of not having significantly more enforcement personnel or budget.

In the past, a closer look at the numbers has shown that they’ve accomplished this miracle by emphasizing “correspondence” audits over “field” audits. It looks like this is again the case. While about three-quarters of the total audits the IRS conducts are correspondence audits, more than 90% of the increase in audits this year comes from correspondence audits.

The agency also seems to be backing off on audits of large corporations. These have the potential to be big-bucks items, but they also take a lot of time and a lot of personnel — both of which can be redeployed to increase the numbers elsewhere. Indeed, the larger the large corporation, the stronger the drop-off in enforcement in recent years. Corporations in the $50–100 million asset range have seen their likelihood of an audit drop from 16.4% to 11.4%; those in the $100–250 million range have gone from 17.5% to 12.1%; those above $250 million have dropped from 44.1% to 27.2%.

The strategy may be a wise one. “Overall, enforcement revenue reached $59.2 billion, up from $48.7 billion in and nearly $34.1 billion in .” On the other hand, this increase could reflect increased tax evasion rather than more effective enforcement — the same sized slice but of a larger pie.

Levies, liens, and seizures are all up over last year’s numbers. After last year’s leap over the previous year from 2,743,577 levies to 3,742,276, this year’s increase is much more modest: to 3,757,190.

The well-designed and highly educational Death and Taxes Poster has been re-issued for the budget.

If you want to start a discussion of budget priorities, this’ll do the trick.