A tax rebel leads the parade
By Claire Wolfe
Big events in town this weekend. It's the annual parade of the Hardyville Mounted Militia. This year, Dave Dawson came all the way from the neighboring Territory of Wyoming to be our Grand Marshal. We invited Dave because of his spirit of don't-mess-with-me independence.
And that's what we celebrate this month. On April 13, there's the birthday of that genius of rebellion, Thomas Jefferson. On April 19 farmers at Lexington and Concord stood up against the might of the biggest superpower in the world, and desperate Jews in the Warsaw ghetto struck back against Nazi tormentors. (Like the Branch Davidians 50 years after them, they died but aren't forgotten).
Right between TJ and the Shot Heard Round the World sits April 15 -- a day when millions of quiet rebels kick butt by refusing to turn over half their earnings to would-be masters. Dave is one of those rebels. But he isn't quiet. He chose to take his stand right out in the open, at Concord Bridge, so to speak.
Dave arrived in town a few days early and a bunch of us corralled him at the Hog Trough Grill and Feed. He outshone us all, with his city suit, big smile and articulate ways. At first, the talk was a little uneasy. It's strange. Anywhere from five to 35 million folks are refusing to file, nearly everyone else gets creative to keep their much-needed money, and the income tax is on the verge of collapse -- but no one wants to admit it out loud.
"So, how long's it been since you quit filing taxes, Dave?" Carty-the-bold finally asked.
"Twenty years ago. Or, to be more specific, 20 years ago I filed Fifth Amendment returns for three years [pointing out that tax filing constitutes self-incrimination], then stopped cooperating altogether with official 'income' extortion."
"Why'd you do it?" someone else ventured -- a contractor known to give substantial discounts to customers who pay cash and don't ask for receipts.
"Well, it certainly wasn't for the money. I'm sure I'd be a lot better off financially if I had continued to cooperate with the extortionists.
"I came to realize that it was wrong, and that the federal government had no authority to extort even a portion of a natural person's 'income.'"
"But why'd you make noise about it? That just gets you in trouble," observed someone whose businesses always manage to "lose money" on paper.
"At first I didn't make a big fuss about it, but I didn't hide either. Most of my friends knew it, and certainly the fed-extorters knew.
"After a few years (I don't remember just how many), I became very public. One year I'd had about all I could stand of reading, each year in March, about the annual 'poster child' the Insidious Robbery System had picked to persecute (and the spelling is correct here) for that year to keep everyone else compliant.
"I went to the Casper Star Tribune, the statewide paper, and told them I wanted to see the other side of the story told, and that I hadn't been filing, and I wasn't in jail. They decided they would do the story, and I insisted that they followed it through wherever it went over the years. They agreed, and I was on the front page telling my story.
"The IRS woulda left you alone if you'd have just shut up." This from someone who ... well, let's just say is in a position to know.
I said, "I heard that the IRS Criminal Investigation Division first 'requested your presence' two days before Christmas and just a little over a month after the '96 elections had you in the news. Is that true?"
"That's right. That was right after my first statewide political race (as a Libertarian) against a Republican incumbent. That may be a coincidence, but it is a fact, too."
"What's happening with that investigation now?" asked a trucker who occasionally runs cigarettes into California, buying here cheap and selling there on the untaxed black market.
"Well, in mid-December of last year ... which just happens to have been about a month and a half after my second statewide race against a Republican (another coincidence, no doubt) ... I got a letter from the Cheyenne IRS office saying that they had recommended to the District Counsel in Denver that I be prosecuted for 'tax evasion.'
"That's an interesting prospective charge. Normally someone like myself is charged with the less Draconian 'willful failure to file.'
"You once mentioned that you thought the IRS would probably owe you for the years it's prosecuting you for," I asked. "Is that right? And if so, why are you risking so much to fight them on this?"
"Yes, during the period referred to in the letter from Cheyenne, most of my work was consulting with a municipal entity, and they had been sending about 45 percent of what they paid me to the feds. I had two young fellows working with me who were paid a substantial portion of what my company was paid, and they paid income taxes on it.
"That means that I would probably get a refund if I filed. Go figger.
"You ask why I am risking so much. I believe that people who cooperate with the extortionists are risking a great deal more ... for all of us."
"I can't imagine how your wife and daughter are handling this!" Janelle shook her head as she arrived with a delivery of what passes for food at the Hog Trough. (Despite a decade of IRS crackdowns on those notoriously rich, greedy waitresses, Janelle still manages to keep most of her tips for her baby's piggy bank.)
"I could never be doing what I am doing if it weren't for their support. They are both just as dedicated to preserving and reclaiming liberty as I am. As for my daughter, Eva, I almost pity the federal bureau-rat who tangles with that young red-headed, home-educated lady."
"What would you like to see the rest of the country do about the income tax?" asked Dora-the-Big-City-exile, who still files faithfully. (Or so she claims.)
"Get a life! I mean, quit surrendering our lives to the dictates of the 'authorities.' I have said many times that our problem isn't the IRS. The IRS is just doing what Congress is demanding that it do. They have an insatiable appetite for control over our productivity.
"But I don't believe the problem is Congress either. They are just doing what any good prostitute would do ... what the client wants. Our problem is that the vast majority of Amerikans have absolutely no respect for property rights. Most of us have been 'educated' in the government schools, and that sure isn't a good place to learn about respect for individual rights.
"Now we have 'conservatives' clamoring for a flat tax. Beyond the fact that neither you nor I nor any number of you and I have the right to extort any portion of an individual's property, my question is 17 percent of what? How many companies have a 17 percent margin? How do you determine what is 'taxable'? Anyone who thinks that a flat tax will get rid of the IRS is not doing a good job of thinking.
"Some are calling for a national sales tax. And I wouldn't have any problem with that as long as nobody was required to collect it, and no business, operating as a matter of right, was required to allow any collector in their business. If some business wants to collect money for Uncle Sugar, that's their business. If I don't want to contribute, I'll shop elsewhere.
"Governments everywhere would get down to the right size and function if they were only allowed to get their revenues the way the rest of us do, that is charge for their services, and allow the marketplace to compete with their services.
"Doncha just know that's gonna happen right away?" he added with a grin.
"I've been accused, by some who don't understand, of favoring anarchy. I don't know if I would favor it or not. I think it's silly to even think about. Ain't gonna happen! There will always be someone who wants to manage other people's lives for them, and if there wasn't a government, they would start one to do it with. I think the best we can hope to do about government is damage control.
"There are some good things we can do in damage control, though. One of my favorite organizations is the Fully Informed Jury Association. When Larry Dodge (founder and current director of FIJA) put a positive spin on the concept of jury nullification that 'Red' Beckman had been explaining for years, a wonderful organization was born. We need to be informing every juror who is sitting on or going to sit on a jury in a criminal trial that just one of them, as an individual juror, can stop tyranny in its tracks ... in that particular trial, by saying that the law itself is wrong and refusing to convict. As you know, a guilty verdict in a criminal trial must be unanimous.
"What has it been like, going through this experience?" I asked. "You always seem so cheerful about it."
"I guess I'm not bright enough to worry about it. However ... and I know some people won't want to hear this ... I couldn't personally do it without my faith in Christ. I don't believe that God and I are a majority if I want to bully someone else, but when you are standing up for your rights, it's good to have God on your side."
Dora, a bit taken aback by what she considered a lot of strange talk, concluded, "Well, I guess you have to do what you have to do -- and I hope you don't get hurt. But I'm certainly glad people around here follow the rules."
Hardyville is a state of mind. Dave Dawson is a visitor from the real world who's very much at home here. The quotes attributed to him in this column are genuine.
NOTE: Apologies to anyone who has been unable to reach me by e-mail or access my Web site. A change of Web hosting services has caused chaos. Keep trying.
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