He says he’s entered the “death zone” – that period when he expects to succumb to the effects of his multi-week hunger protest.
Thirty-six-year-old Gene Chapman hasn’t eaten since tax day, April 15. The Texas man, who early on spent hours each day sitting across the street from the Austin IRS office, vows to die of starvation unless he receives what he considers an adequate answer to one question: “Where is my tax liability in the law?”
On his blog, Chapman says he has lost about 50 pounds: “I have lost a lot of weight. I could kick off anytime – who knows?”
Chapman’s hunger strike follows that of Rose Lear, a Michigan woman who fasted for 29 days this spring. She was demanding answers to 537 questions included in a petition for redress of grievances sponsored by the organization We the People. 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.
Last week, Chapman received a letter from the Internal Revenue Service.
“I think this letter from the IRS is pretty well empty,” Chapman said, saying it didn’t provide him the legal answer he seeks. “It’s just a bunch of doublespeak and jabberwocky.”
According to the blog, many followers of Chapman’s fast have contacted the office of Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, Chapman’s representative, asking that his question be answered. Chapman says Burgess’ staff has been “stonewalling” him.
On Friday, Chapman said on his blog: “We haven’t been in contact with Congressman Burgess’ office anymore. I’ve pretty well given up on him. I encourage everyone in the 26th District to make sure they don’t vote for him next time around because of this stonewalling episode that is clearly going on in his office.”
Chapman says he now is spending between 22 and 23 hours a day in bed due to his lack of energy.
“Barring me falling down dead from a heart failure from the 50-pound weight loss in 30 days,” Chapman said Sunday, “I’ve got another two or three weeks left before I would expect to not be able to go on with life. Beginning of June or so – that’s probably going to be all I’ve got left in me. We are definitely in the death zone.”
Bob Schulz, head of We the People, who himself endured a similar hunger strike two years ago, responded to the letter Chapman received from the IRS:
“The carefully worded deceptions in the responses are worth noting for the record given that a man is about to die to get his single question about U.S. tax law answered,” Schulz wrote. “The most glaring problem with the IRS response is that, once again, IRS fails to cite any specific law that actually makes Gene Chapman, or anyone, liable to pay the tax.”
Sen. George V. Voinovich, R-Ohio, sponsored an amendment to the U.S. Senate version of the tax-cut bill passed last week that would create a blue-ribbon commission to make recommendations to Congress on how to make comprehensive changes to the federal income tax. system.
“Throughout the debate on the stimulus package I have become increasingly convinced of the need for overall tax reform. We need a tax code that is simple, fair and honest and this amendment starts that process. It’s long overdue,” Voinovich said in a statement.
Chapman says if the commission in fact is created, it would be “grounds to stop the fast” and that it could be a means to “keep their feet to the fire.”
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