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Tax protester wins one over government
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Tax Protester Wins One Over US Government
Growing numbers of “failure to convict” cases have the government worried that the federal income tax system could eventually crumble.
By John Tiffany
Businessman Richard Simkanin, 59, of Bed ford, Texas, recently won a victory against Big Brother. Jurors could not reach a verdict on a 27-count indictment accusing him of failure to withhold taxes from the wages of his employees and of filing fraudulent claims for tax refunds. Jurors said they were deadlocked after eight hours of deliberations.
Simkanin is one of a number of employers who contend that there is no law requiring an employer to withhold from his employees’ wages, although the employees are registered in the Social Security system.
While that argument (known in the “tax honesty movement” as the “861 argument”) has turned out to be problematic, Simkanin’s defense in the case (number 4-03CR-188-A, USA v. Richard M. Simkanin) is that he relied upon the advice of “experts” in good faith. Jurors said they could not reach a verdict in the case.
However, Simkanin remained in federal custody after U.S. District Judge John McBryde in the Northern District of Texas in Dallas declared a mistrial.
Simkanin made the strategic mistake of openly declaring his contempt for the government, in ways that could possibly be construed as threats (although it appears he was really only warning them of the hellfire that would await them in the afterlife). As a result, the judge has treated Simkanin as a dangerous desperado who must be kept in jail until a decision is made what to do with him.
Simkanin once wrote to the Treasury secretary that he had repatriated himself from the United States to the “Republic of Texas,” angering federal employees who consider that any citizen of a state of the union is automatically a citizen of the United States of America and that any argument to the contrary is frivolous.
Simkanin was charged with failing to collect and pay $175,000 in taxes on his employees’ wages from January 2000 through December 2002 and filing fraudulent claims for tax refunds totaling $234,515 for the years 1997 through 1999.
Simkanin testified that he followed the advice of a certified public accountant who told him it was legal to stop withholding taxes from his employees’ paychecks.
Ignorance of federal tax law is a legal defense if a taxpayer unintentionally violates the law after accepting wrong advice in good faith.
He also said his tax views are based on his Christian faith. “I was robbing [the employees] of their opportunity if I withheld the fruits of their labor,” Simkanin told the court.
Had the case been heard by a judge only and not a jury, many people have speculated that Simkanin would most likely have been found guilty.
It is interesting to note that a jury has the right of nullification, which means they can vote “not guilty” simply because they feel the income tax law is unjust, or for any other reason—which could spell doom for the much-hated federal income tax system.
The great Lysander Spooner once wrote: “It is not to be supposed that juries would enforce a tax upon an individual which he had never agreed to pay.”
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