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Congressman cancels tax forum

What was long anticipated as an epic confrontation between the federal government and the “tax honesty” movement has gone up in smoke, with the cancellation of the planned Feb. 27 and 28 tax policy forum in Washington by the congressman that had been the aggrieved petitioners’ greatest official supporter.

“I am quite dismayed by Operation “Wait to File until the Trial,” said Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, R-Md., in a press release. Bartlett communicated his decision in a letter to Robert L. Schulz, chairman of the board of We The People Foundation for Constitutional Education, Inc., who had requested the forum.

In his letter to Schulz, Bartlett wrote: “The information that you are currently disseminating concerning the February 27 & 28 forum is misleading. I will not be a party to advocating the non-payment of federal income taxes.”

We The People, an organization that disputes, on various grounds, the legality of the federal income tax, has been urging Americans to hold off filing their 2001 income tax returns until after the planned hearings in Washington, D.C., next month.

“The very legality of the U.S. income tax system goes on trial Feb. 27 at a congressionally sponsored public hearing on Capitol Hill,” said a statement on We The People’s website.

Bartlett, who was the congressional sponsor of the hearing, explained that Schulz’s “rhetoric has made it impossible for the forum to take place because the Internal Revenue Service and Department of Justice will not participate.”

The Maryland Republican “remains committed to ensuring the right of Bob Schulz and other citizens to exercise their constitutional rights under the First Amendment to get answers to their questions about federal tax policy from the government,” according to his press statement. As an alternative to the much-ballyhooed February confrontation, he offered to forward Schulz’s questions to both the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service, and to post their answers on his congressional website.

Here is the text of Bartlett’s letter:

The tax group had expected, at the forum, “to prove conclusively that the IRS does not have the legal authority to force employers to withhold taxes from the paychecks of their employees, or to force most Americans to file a return or pay the income tax.”

“If the research is confirmed publicly, most Americans may be entitled to a refund of 100 percent of the income tax paid or withheld in 2001,” the statement continued.

“The IRS and Department of Justice will officially and publicly answer detailed legal allegations directly challenging the jurisdiction of the IRS and the unlawful enforcement and administration of U.S. income tax laws,” Schulz had said.

The two-day hearing had originally been scheduled for Sept. 24-25, but was postponed until next month in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

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