A Texas man has picked up where a fasting “tax honesty” activist in Michigan left off, staging a Gandhi-style hunger fast to protest the federal government’s refusal to adequately respond to questions about the legality of the income tax.
Gene Chapman, 36, is in the third week of his fast, having begun on tax day, April 15. His protest began just days after activist Rose Lear ended her similar hunger strike April 3 after 29 days.
Chapman is vowing to die of starvation if he does not receive an official answer to just one question: “Where is my tax liability in the law?” To date, he has not received an adequate answer.
Lear, however, had demanded answers to 537 questions included in a petition for redress of grievances sponsored by the organization We the People, which was delivered to all 535 members of Congress last fall. The questions concern the “tax honesty” movement’s contention that the federal government lacks any legal jurisdiction to enforce the income tax, that there is no law that requires Americans to pay the tax, and that the tax is enforced in a manner that violates the U.S. Constitution.
On the We the People website, Chapman is described as a “soft-spoken professional with strong spiritual values.” Much of his protest has been spent sitting outside across the street from the IRS regional office in downtown Austin, Texas.
Two years ago, at the request of We the People, IRS and Justice Department officials agreed to meet with WTP leader Bob Schulz to answer his questions after he went on a 20-day hunger strike. Government officials later reneged, and We the People held its own congressional-hearing style forum in Washington, D.C. At the event, several expert tax attorneys and former IRS officials testified that the income tax system is fraudulent and that most Americans are not legally required to pay.
According to We the People, Chapman told Schulz he is “prepared to give his life for God.” Chapman refers to his effort as a “death fast.” The organization says local Austin IRS officials have been “unable to cite any specific law that actually imposes a legal obligation to pay the tax.”
A blog site has been established for Internet users and Chapman to post thoughts and information. On the blog, Chapman explained: “We got the refusal to resuscitate order kinda mapped out how we want to do it.” The activist wants to be sure medical personnel don’t try to keep him alive against his will.
Tuesday, Chapman discussed his physical condition on the blog:
“Well, I’m just getting weaker and weaker. I’m tired. I lost 32 pounds, the doctor said. We scaled me this morning. My blood pressure’s real good. Actually, I have borderline high blood pressure as a truck driver. So this is actually helping me to pass my [Department of Transportation] physical the next time it comes around here in September in the event that I live through this.”
In an audio clip on the blog, Chapman says an employee of the IRS office recently came to talk to him at his protest post. He quoted the woman as saying the employees “all know [the income tax is] illegal and wrong … but we just can’t fix it; it’s too big.”
Chapman says he has been using scripture to argue his case that what the IRS does on behalf of the federal government is extortion.
Earlier this week, Lear wrote an e-mail of encouragement to Chapman, advising him to rest as much as he can.
“Your story should be on every front page of every paper in the country,” she wrote. “It should be on every news network in the country. One simple question that no one at the IRS can answer: Where is my liability?”
Chapman, who is single, says he has been enjoying the Austin weather as he spends hours sitting across from the IRS. He also wrote on the blog he appreciates the “pretty girls drivin’ by wavin’ at me.”
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