Today marks day 10 of tax-activist Bob Schulz’s hunger strike – a last-ditch effort to gain an audience with government officials asked to address arguments that income taxes have no legal basis.
“I’m not hungry anymore,” said Schulz, founder and chairman of the We the People Foundation for Constitutional Education. He did say, however, he experienced “some discomfort as I went through withdrawal, but that’s past now.”
Though he is beginning to feel “some weakness” due to lack of food, Schulz said he is “surprised to feel as good as I do, but I’ve never done this before.”
Thankful for his high spirits, the protester’s days have been full since arriving in Washington, D.C. last week from his home state of New York. Yesterday, Schulz submitted a formal remonstrance and five-page cover letter to President Bush at the White House, where he had an appointment to meet with White House staff. Similar materials were given to Sen. Tom Daschle and House Speaker Dennis Hastert.
Begun on July 1, the hunger strike now also includes Oklahoma businessman and sympathizer Roland Croteau, who began fasting a day after Schulz. The men are touring the Washington area together, urging senators, congressmen, the president and IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti to hear them out.
Schulz plans to continue his fast “until he dies or until the federal government agrees to send experts to a public forum to refute evidence of researchers from the Tax Honesty Movement as to the unconstitutionality of the federal income tax and its illegal enforcement,” says We the People’s website.
Commonly called “tax protesters” or “non-filers” by the IRS – even though many, including Schulz, do pay their taxes – members of the self-described “tax-honesty movement” or “patriot movement” believe income taxes are a hoax. The 16th Amendment, which authorized collection of an income tax, was fraudulently ratified in 1913, they say. And even if the amendment were properly enacted, Congress has never enacted a law effecting the collection of such taxes, they believe. To take it even a step further, many tax protesters argue that should such laws exist, the government has created a constitutional problem by requiring filers to waive their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. These arguments and others are explored in-depth in the April issue of WorldNetDaily’s monthly print magazine WorldNet.
In addition to leadership figures, Schulz and Croteau also took their formal, written complaint to their own senators. That includes Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York for Schulz and Sen. James Inhofe in Oklahoma for Croteau. The men need support from their representatives, said Schulz, “to get the government experts to the September conference.” Today, the protesters plan to deliver materials to members of the House of Representatives.
In the meantime, “It’s been wall-to-wall interviews with talk radio,” said Schulz, who was interviewed by a producer for ABC’s “20/20″ yesterday. He says he and Croteau are “doing what we can do to make people aware that the government does not want to respond to a petition for redress of grievances.”
We the People has proffered several invitations to Rossotti and other federal officials, asking them to sit down with inquirers and explain the government’s interpretation of the Internal Revenue Code. But the invitations and requests for explanations have continually gone unanswered.
“If they’ve got these answers, then there should be no problem with them discussing this. They should just be able to blow them (tax protesters) away,” Schulz said, noting that government’s silence regarding his hunger strike serves to give the tax-honesty movement credibility in the public eye.
He also criticized the court system and the IRS for penalizing proponents of tax-protester arguments with fines.
“You can’t just keep kicking them in the head and expect them to fall in line. That’s not what we’re made of,” he remarked.
WorldNetDaily made repeated calls to the IRS for comment about the hunger strike. Yesterday, when asked directly if the IRS was going to make any comment about Schulz’s plight, a spokesman answered, “Probably not.” The same spokesman then wrote in an e-mail that the “IRS doesn’t comment on individual taxpayer matters” and referred WND to several IRS press releases and fact sheets. Though much of the material related to illegal money-making scams – a category We the People does not belong in – some sections did address tax-protester arguments.
Regarding the claim that no law exists making most Americans liable to pay income taxes, the IRS states, “The tax law is found in Title 26 of the United States Code. Section 6012 of the Code makes clear that only people whose income falls below a certain minimum level do not have to file returns. Sections 861 through 865 determine whether income is from a U.S. or foreign source – they do not in any way exclude income from taxation for a U.S. citizen or resident. Section 6201 of the Code states that the Secretary of the Treasury is required to make assessments ‘of all taxes imposed by this title [Title 26].’”
The notice continues: “Regardless of the arguments used, they have two things in common: The arguments are consistently rejected by the courts, and the participants may face IRS enforcement action. The IRS has one of the highest conviction rates in federal law enforcement. In addition to serving substantial prison sentences imposed by the courts, those convicted must also pay fines, taxes, civil penalties, and, frequently, court costs.”
And regarding the 16th Amendment, the agency states, “The courts have held that none of the points presented undermine the fact that the 16th Amendment was indeed ratified in 1913.”
But Schulz claims the question of the 16th Amendment’s proper ratification has never been directly addressed by the judicial system – the issue has only been bounced back and forth between the courts and Congress, each saying it is the other’s jurisdiction.
Regardless of the IRS’ notices, Schulz said he will not discontinue his hunger strike until government officials agree to meet in a public forum tentatively set for September to discuss tax-protester arguments.
“They need to meet in a public forum and go eye to eye,” he said, adding that the date of the meeting is not as important as its occurrence. Once such a meeting has taken place, with both sides given the opportunity to present their cases and ask questions, then Schulz said his work in the tax-honesty movement is done, even if We the People’s arguments are shot down by the government.
“If the government has acted responsibly and has answered the questions to the satisfaction of the public who’s watching and listening, then it doesn’t matter what the tax researchers of the tax-honesty movement believe at that point, because if they’ve been shown the error of their ways, and they’ve been embarrassed, the issue will have been put to bed. It would be very difficult for many of the people who are in the tax-honesty movement to get anybody to listen to them at that point,” he said.
But until a meeting is scheduled, the government is going to “allow someone to waste away on the sidewalk outside its front door rather than answer some questions,” Schulz remarked. “What are they afraid of?”
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