Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Tax Revolt Methods

Niccolò Macchiavelli
[This is a follow-up by Gary Flomenhoft on last week's post.]

“It is just as difficult and dangerous to try to free a people that wants to remain servile as it is to enslave a people that wants to remain free.”
Niccolò Macchiavelli

‘Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break into pieces.”
Étienne de la Boétie, 1552

I am pleased that many people have expressed interest in getting more information about different methods of joining a tax revolt.

The reasons for wanting to do so are plain to see: if the US government is no longer a legitimate government, then you owe them nothing. Consider that it has been violating all four Nuremberg Principles for decades: crimes against peace (wars of aggression), conspiracy to commit crimes against peace, war crimes (torture), and crimes against humanity (drone killing of civilians).  They have violated Articles 27, 31, 32, 45, 49, 87, 97, 124, 125, 127 of the Geneva Conventions, the US Army Field Manual, and the US Constitution, especially Habeas Corpus and Posse Commitatus.  They continue to use cluster munitions and refuse to sign the international ban on cluster munitions or land mines.  They use radioactive depleted uranium shells that cause massive birth defects wherever they are deployed.  The entire Bill of Rights has been shredded except for Amendments 2 and 3.  They have allowed a criminal banker elite to commit epic fraud and theft without any prosecution. The electoral system has been turned into an auction. And that's just to mention a few of the reasons; this is by no means an exhaustive list.

But, friends, what more do they have to do to convince you? Kill you? Well, they can do that too now, very easily, with no repercussions of any sort. Or they can just imprison you for life without ever charging you with a crime or sending you to trial.

Please let me remind you of a few sentences from our Declaration of Independence penned by Thomas Jefferson:
…when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
But apparently things have not gotten bad enough in the US to trigger a revolt, because most of the mischief up to now has been done overseas, and most people don’t give a rat’s ass what we do to other people.  But it’s finally starting to come home, so maybe you do want to do something, and you want to know all the options, not just the simple expedient of writing “Exempt” on a W4 form we presented in “The Only Way to Stop the Empire”.  OK, no problem, we are here to help.
First let me clarify a few misunderstandings that came up in the comments posted on ClubOrlov and over at ZeroHedge where the article was also carried, because they are relevant to this issue. By the way, I am grateful for the intelligence and sincerity of most of these comments.

Some people criticized my claim about the Tea Party’s reason for shutting down the government: “They thought that the welfare system is bankrupting the country. This is a laughable claim, because welfare spending looks negligible when compared to military spending.”

They pointed to the $850 billion social security program, the $821 billion Medicaid and Medicare program, and the $521 billion in other mandatory programs, calling them “welfare.”  There is just one problem with this critique: none of these programs are funded using the income tax.  They are called entitlements, and the way you entitle yourself to them is by paying into them using a special payroll tax. Same goes for unemployment insurance, by the way. All of these are funded using something that is called a tax, but in essence they are joint savings accounts that you hold in common with many other people, with some rules on how the money is then spent on those who have payed into them.

Clearly, the Tea Party doesn’t like these joint savings accounts either, we still need to distinguish them from “welfare,” or we won't even know what we are talking about.  If you are not aware of this, the employer and employee each pay half of the payroll tax to the government, although if you are self-employed—lucky you!—you get to pay both halves.

So, just to make things perfectly clear, the entire issue of tax revolt we are talking about here has to do with income taxes, not payroll taxes. Go ahead and revolt against payroll taxes too if you want, but that’s off-topic.

If you look at the US budget, on Table S-4 p. 168, you will see the distinction between mandatory programs paid by payroll tax and “appropriated” programs paid by income tax.  There may be some overlap, but this gives you a general idea:

Subtotal, mandatory programs: $2,234B
Subtotal, appropriated programs: $1,174B

“Welfare” is a different story. Let's define it as unearned payments, based on means testing or other measurement of need, funded through income taxes paid by others.  If you look at the US discretionary budget, on Table S-11. p. 203 you will see that the entire Health and Human Services (HHS) budget of $79.8B, does indeed look small compared to the defense budget of $496.0 billion: for every 6 dollars that go to defense, less than one goes to HHS. But that's not the relevant number either.

Because when most people talk about welfare, and especially Tea Party people or other ideologues, they are undoubtedly talking about transfer payments to individuals (who presumably are lazy, no good bums, who don’t want to work).  In that case you have to look at the HHS budget in more detail.
Welfare as such no longer exists, but on page 113, you will find the line item for “Temporary Aid to Needy Families”  (TANF), Bill Clinton’s idea for “eliminating welfare as we know it”, which totals $17.35 Billion. This is what I call welfare, and it looks extremely negligible compared to the $496 billion offensively large defense budget. For every 28 dollars spent on defense, less than one goes to the “lazy bums” (if that's what you wish to call them). I could rest my case here, but there's more.

You see, the “defense” appropriation doesn’t even come close to capturing the entire military budget, because it leaves out Homeland Security, The War on Terror (“Overseas Contingencies”), interest on the debt, nuclear weapons managed by the Dept. of Energy, and many other items.  For that you will have to look at the War Resisters pie chart. They’ve taken payroll tax funded programs out of the picture and show that total military spending amounts to $1,307 Billion for fiscal year 2015.  They use 80% as the portion of the federal debt due to military spending, which could be questioned, but the rest of their analysis looks pretty much rock solid.  In any case we are talking about over $1 Trillion dollars per year to maintain the US global hegemonic empire.

And so, in the final analysis, for every 75 dollars spent on so-called “national defense,” less than one goes to people in need. Will the real welfare queens please stand up!

And so it stands to reason that you may not want to send your hard-earned money to pay off all these lazy no-good bastards who hide behind the cannon fodder dressed up in military drag. The question is, how?

War Resisters web site has an excellent page on the various means of refusing to pay income tax, and a page on consequences. According to War Resisters, only one person since WWII has been jailed for war tax resistance.  I once read on their website that the IRS is able to recover more money from people who report their income and file a return, than people who don’t file at all and give the IRS no information.  However, you should know that there is no statute of limitations if you don’t file, while it is 10 years if you do file.  This worked to my advantage once when the statute of limitations ran out in 2005 from a return in 1995, and the IRS was unable to collect all the interest and penalties, which I refused to pay.  Incidentally, they attempted to collect the money after the statute of limitations ran out, so don’t expect criminals to follow the law.  I was only able to avoid it because an honest Taxpayer Advocate was able to stop collection.

Let me cover a few of these methods in more detail and one they left out.  I’ll cover legal methods, semi-legal, and illegal methods.  Take your pick.


Increase withholding

If you want to reduce the amount that is withheld from your paycheck it is perfectly legal to increase the number of withholdings you submit on the W-4.  The IRS in fact provides a calculator to figure it out. This calculator will supposedly figure out how to withhold exactly the right amount so your tax liability will match what you owe at the end of the year.  You might be able reverse engineer it to figure out how many withholdings to claim, based on how much or how little you want withheld.

In the past if you submitted more than 10 withholdings or “EXEMPT” on your W-4 to your employer, they were required to report it to the IRS. According to an update in 2012, this is no longer the case.  See update. If you withhold less tax than you owe, then after you file your tax return by April 15 you will owe the IRS money, instead of getting a refund.  Then you can decide if you want to pay it or not, but at least it will be your choice.  Normally the IRS already has your money, and collects extra from 80% of employees, as an interest-free loan.

Live Below the taxable level

The War Resisters update document lists the 2012 figures for gross income level you need in order to live below a taxable level. It may be higher in 2013 or 2014, but it’s not much!

$9,750 for a single person
$15,700, married filing jointly
$9,750, married filing separately
$12,500 Head of Household
Over 65 or blind add $1,150 for a married taxpayer; $1,450 for a single taxpayer

The update has a link to a website by David Gross providing extensive information on how to live below the taxable level using what he calls the “Don’t Owe Nuthin’ (DON) method and using certain tax credits.

Use as many deductions and tax credits as you can find.  You may be able to reduce your tax liability to zero, even if you have substantial income.  Many people are confused about the difference between a deduction as listed on Schedule A for “itemized deductions”, and a tax credit, which is found on 2013 IRS form 1040 lines 47-53.  A deduction is subtracted from your income, so it reduces your taxable income.  Most people use the standard deduction, but if you have a lot of deductions including mortgage interest, it is often advantageous to itemize your deductions.  Itemized deductions include things like:  Medical and Dental Expenses, Taxes you paid, Interest you paid, Gifts to Charity, Casualty and Theft Losses, Job Expenses, and Certain Miscellaneous Deductions.

A tax credit is much better because it is subtracted straight off your taxes.  These are things like Credit for child and dependent care expenses, Education credits, Retirement savings contributions credit, Child tax credit, and Residential energy credits.  There have been others over the years that I have used such as electric vehicle tax credit, investment tax credit, and first-time homebuyers tax credit, etc.

I decided in the end not to live below the taxable level because I was sick of being poor, and saw no reason to suffer just because psychopaths in government were committing mass murder all over the world.  I decided to use tax credits and if I owed anything would simply refuse to pay on the basis of the Nuremberg Principles.


File an “exempt” W-4 form.  The form states that in order to file an exempt form, you must meet two criteria: You owed no tax last year, and you expect to owe no tax this year.  So technically it is not legal to file this form “exempt” if you owed any taxes the year before, but in practice I have never been questioned about this.  As mentioned in the previous article the employer is not allowed to question your W-4 unless instructed by the IRS.  The IRS has taken up to 3 years to notify my employer to start withholding after filing an “exempt” W-4, even after just ending a previous dispute with them.  One hand literally does not know what the other hand is doing.  The IRS is a huge dysfunctional bureaucracy.



The simplest way to avoid taxes is to be self-employed and not report your income to the IRS.  If they don’t get any information, it is hard for them to come after you.  You may have to take other measures to make sure it doesn’t get reported.  If you do work for others, they may give you a 1099 form, and it will be sent to the IRS.  I would avoid that.  If you accept credit cards, as of January 2011, the IRS requires your bank to report all credit card transactions to them.  What’s wrong, don’t they trust us anymore?

Working for cash works fairly well, but working for favors is by far the best. For instance, you can live rent-free as a caretaker, have the use of a free car for driving someone around or handling someone's deliveries, eat free by growing somebody else's food and so on.

Legal Challenges

Many patriots over the years have attempted to prove that income taxes are unconstitutional, were not properly ratified, or are illegal for various other reasons.  I have tried a few of these methods myself, which my employer promptly ignored after receiving instructions from the IRS to withhold from my paycheck.  I admire people who continue to challenge the questionable legality of the income tax in the courts. But the fact is, the IRS doesn't care about the courts. They know every one of these claims, and even have a website devoted to it, which cites lots of legal cases, all supporting the IRS, of course.

Anyone who files a tax return making one of these legal claims will immediately get fined $5,000 for filing a “frivolous return,” based on their opinion that these claims are a waste of the agency’s precious time. One individual wrote to Club Orlov claiming that those who follow instructions in the book “Cracking the Code” by Pete Hendrickson at Lost Horizons website, “are never prosecuted, receive ALL of the monies that were incorrectly turned over to the IRS, and have joined the minions [sic] all across the country who are doing the same.” What he failed to mention is that Hendrickson has been sentenced to jail twice, once for placing a fire-bomb in the mail and once for tax evasion, and all his claims have been disallowed by the courts. So this person is either ignorant or a provocateur. Check your sources!

For pure amusement value, my two favorite frivolous legal claims are the following:

1. The federal income tax laws are unconstitutional because the Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was not properly ratified.


2. The Sixteenth Amendment does not authorize a direct non-apportioned federal income tax on United States citizens.

Both are addressed on the IRS frivolous website in section D, here and here.

The Heritage Foundation, which you would think would be sympathetic to the argument about non-apportioned tax, contradicts it. The non-ratification claim is explained here. Both are considered frivolous claims by the IRS and automatically incur a $5000 fine accompanied by jail time if you push them on it. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are true, though! Would that matter? Not a whit!

Your time is not precious in the slightest though, as the IRS will waste epic amounts of your time and money trying to pursue valid legal claims they deny. On the other hand, I have always thought that wasting the IRS's time in ways that don't get you fined might be worth it if they end up spending significantly more in trying to collect from you, than the amount they can ever recover.

I was never charged with a $5000 frivolous claim on any of my tax returns.  I don’t have an ideological bias against paying taxes if they are used to serve the common good. Living in Vermont, which has a reasonably responsive state government, I consider most of the tax money well spent. I made it clear to the IRS that I agreed I owed the money. Then I refused to pay it on the basis of the Nuremberg Principles, established after WWII, during trials in which the US was the chief prosecutor, and which resolved that “I was just following my orders” does not constitute a legally valid excuse if the orders are to commit war crimes. That was the defense offered by Adolph Eichmann, the Nazi bureaucrat who handled the logistics of organizing the death camps, and the judges rejected it. Hannah Arendt wrote her famous book “The Banality of Evil” about Eichmann. “I was just following orders”, he said.

The US defense establishment commits war crimes. They order me to pay them to commit them, in effect enabling them to commit more war crimes. I don't take orders from war criminals.

The IRS didn’t charge me with a frivolous claim, but continued to recover unpaid taxes from previous years. They ordered my employer to withhold at the maximum single level, and kept all the money owed to me in tax refunds. Fortunately, soon thereafter I lost my job, and have since left the country.  I don’t expect to return until the Neocon psychopaths running the country destroy the empire.


Ken Barrows said...

Although SS and Medicare are funded by the payroll tax, Medicaid is not. Correct me if I am wrong, but Medicaid is a joint federal-state program and different from SS/Medicare.

Gary said...

You are right.

Going back to US budget Summary page 168 Table S–4.
2015 Medicaid budget=$331 billion

The Medicaid program was enacted in the same legislation that created the Medicare program - the Social Security Amendments of 1965 (P.L. 89-97).
Thus my mistake.


"Federal funding for Medicaid comes from general revenues. There is no Trust Fund for Medicaid as there is for Medicare Part A or Social Security."

Medicaid is a means-tested, low-income health care program. Therefore, it might be categorized as "welfare" by the Tea Party.

(TANF)$17.35 + Medicaid $331 = $348.35 billion "welfare"

Military = $1,307 BILLION

You decide which is the problem. In any case a tax revolt will end BOTH of them.

averros said...

IRS audits only a small portion of returns. One way to do tax revolt would be to establish a system of mutual tax liability insurance where people claim no income (or reduced income) to IRS, but pay premiums to the insurance fund (based on their circumstances). This insurance then covers legal fees, tax liability, and penalties assessed by the IRS to those who got audited, thus getting them legally off the hook.

Moorlock said...

If you're interested in pursuing this further, I'd recommend my book 99 Tactics of Successful Tax Resistance Campaigns which can help you make the transition between tax resistance as a personal conscientious imperative and tax resistance as a mass movement for political change.