Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Black & White Case? 

A part of me can't help that think Wesley Snipes would not have been sentenced to three years in prison if he were white. Willie Nelson, for example, was hit with a bill for unpaid taxes of $ 16.7 million, back in 1990. His punishment? The government seized his assets, many of which were bought up by fans and given back to him. Prison time, none.

But there's another part of me that thinks Snipes's sentence was a message from the government to people in the Tax Revolt movement, because their argument has been gaining notice. In several cases now, the defendants have asked the Government to simply show them the place in the Tax Code where it says all Americans have to pay tax on their income from wages. The Government has yet to comply, simply countering that such arguments are considered frivolous. There is even a judge on record, James C. Fox, who stated that he can find no proof the 16th Amendment was ever properly ratified. On top of that, while the Government has been given ample opportunity to simply point to the page of the Tax Code that requires us to pay, they have not -- and you'd think that the simplest way in the world to shut up the Tax Resisters would be to cite Chapter and Verse that plainly requires them to pay, end of story. (The 16th Amendment argument, in fact, would be immaterial in the light of an exact reference to law.)

It's become a game of the IRS saying "You have to pay because we say you do," and the tax resisters replying with "We'll pay if you show us the law." This is followed by "We don't have to show you the law, we've told you it's true."

Now, if I want to find, say, the part of Burbank Municipal Code that bans smoking within 20 feet of buildings, or California State Law that requires me to register my car, or the Federal Law that makes travelling to Cuba illegal, I can do it in about five minutes. That last one would be 22 USC 69, in case you're wondering. You'd think that the IRS would love nothing more than to hand a judge a copy of xx USC yy, then seek summary judgement.

But they don't, they haven't, and so an alternate take on the above is that Wesley Snipes isn't the wrong race, but was convicted at the wrong time. The DOJ started a push this April to actively go after tax resisters, which indicates that the movement may be a bigger problem than they'll admit. After all, if it amounted to .002% of taxpayers, all they'd have to do is seize assets, and of story. But if it's a noticeable percentage, even 1%, or (guesstimate), or one million people, it becomes a manpower issue -- and therefore the easiest way is to go after a visible target, and turn them into a martyr, in hopes of cowing everyone else.

But if the number of resisters were ten million, or twenty, or more, they'd have a major problem on their hands of just going after everyone, and so the offenders with the highest income would be targeted first. I wont advocate tax evasion, but you have to ask yourself this question: is a government that lied us into a war, drastically cut domestic spending (hello, Katrina) and has now tanked the economy deserving of our dollars? If an employee screwed up this badly, they'd have been fired long ago. Since our useless Congress won't do a damn thing to end the trainwreck we're slowly riding to has-been country status, then it's up to the People to do something about it, and dock the pay of the institutions that have betrayed us.

United, we stand. Divided, unfortunately for now, we are.

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