You might expect that when Joe Banister — a special agent for the
Internal Revenue Service — went public with his findings challenging
the legality and constitutionality of the IRS,
that his associates at the service would turn their backs on him and attorneys and fellow certified public accountants would ridicule his claims.

That’s not been the case. True, those at the higher echelons at the IRS have yet to respond to his allegations, but to Banister’s surprise, he’s being well received not only by fellow agents at the San Jose office where he worked — but also by Tim Brewer, a San Jose CPA who gave Banister his first job when he was just out of college, who says he agrees with him and is “thrilled” he is doing what he’s doing to raise public awareness.

Banister worked for Brewer from August 1986 to early 1987, before beginning a five-year career with KPMG Peat Marwick, where he rose to the level of senior tax specialist and tax auditor. It was Brewer who recommended Banister to the huge accounting firm, regarding him as a steady, diligent worker and a careful researcher.

“I’ve looked over Joe’s report,” Brewer told WorldNetDaily, “and I can’t find any holes in it. I’ve talked with tax lawyers that I know, and their only response is: ‘So what, what are you going to do about it? The IRS isn’t going to back down, and the courts aren’t going to back you up.’

“But none of the tax lawyers I spoke with could give me any reasons why the issues Joe raised and the allegations he made were wrong,” said Brewer.

The report Brewer was referring to was the 95-page book Banister wrote in which he presented three specific allegations:

  • That the filing of federal income tax returns is voluntary, and the filing of federal income tax returns is not required;

  • That the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was never ratified;

  • That income taxes are not used to pay for daily government operations, but to pay the interest on the national debt.

Banister’s conclusions were the result of two years of investigation and research, conducted during evenings and weekends, from late 1996 through

As detailed earlier by WorldNetDaily, at the time he began his investigation Banister, 36, was working as an “accountant with a badge” — as agents of the Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS are called. The job requires not only accounting skills and experience, but also the ability to handle firearms. It is considered one of the more prestigious jobs within the Service.

Banister began his research reluctantly in Dec. 1996, and arrived at his conclusions only after considerable study and soul searching. Driven by concern that he was helping enforce an illegal law, he put his findings into his report and on Feb. 8 sent it with a cover letter to his supervisors at the San Jose office of the IRS-CID, asking that the report and letter be transmitted to officials at the highest levels — Commissioner Charles Rossotti himself, or his designee. He requested that they respond to these allegations within 30 days and tell him if he was either right or wrong, or he would have to resign.

He didn’t have to wait that long. On Feb. 17, Banister was called into his supervisor’s office and was told that the report had been reviewed “by the highest levels of the IRS.” Then he was handed a memo, dated that day, stating simply “the Internal Revenue Service will not be responding to your request and will provide you with the necessary paperwork to tender your resignation.”

Prior to handing in his report, Banister had visited with Brewer seeking his opinion.

“He stopped by in early January of this year,” Brewer recalled. “He was kind of sheepish and said he hoped I wouldn’t think he was crazy, but he had arrived at some strange conclusions. He wanted to know what I thought about this. Of course, I knew Joe wasn’t crazy; besides — I’ve had these same concerns (about the legality of the IRS) for a long time.

“As far as I can see, the only reason we still have an IRS is because they’ve got the bigger stick: the courts, the lien-and-levy process, and everything else.

“So I’m, thrilled Joe is doing this. I don’t know where it’s going to go, but I’m happy there may finally be some exposure on this issue. Maybe some scholars will start looking into this — and not address it from the standpoint that, well, the government has to have money so it’s OK to have an illegal tax.”

Though Brewer — and the attorneys he knows — agree with Banister’s conclusions, the question remains, What to do about it?

“I know he’s right, but people keep going to jail and losing their homes and assets,” Brewer observed.

Banister has an explanation for this: “I’m beginning to understand that the only reason people go to jail is fear, intimidation, and ignorance of the law,” he explained. I never worked on the civil side (of the IRS) but I have worked with Department of Justice attorneys on one income tax trial, and the main thrust of their appeal to the jury was: You pay, but this guy didn’t pay; you paid your fair share, he didn’t.

“They use raw emotion — rather than finding out whether the laws are truly mandatory. I’ve seen it with my own eyes that they don’t key in so much on the person being a lawbreaker, but on whether he has paid his ‘fair share.’

“The prosecution isn’t about to offer to the jury that one of the reasons a defendant didn’t file his tax form is because he (the defendant) has researched it and found out it isn’t required,” he said.

Brewer agrees, and would like to see the issues raised by Banister properly examined.

“It’s really sad, the public attitude about the IRS.” he said. “People are scared to take deductions because of their fear. We’ve got a scared society — and that’s why I applauded Joe in his efforts to find this out and make it public.

“Now we need to go to the next step. We need full-blown congressional hearings. We need the legal scholars and the great minds to explain where Joe’s allegations are wrong — if they are wrong.

“Right now, the IRS is like a parent telling a child to do something ‘because I tell you to’ — without giving any reason why. That’s what government is doing to us. They’re not saying why, they’re just saying, ‘Do it because I told you so.'”

As for Banister, he would like to see people “burning up the telephones, trying to find out why a government that’s supposed to exist with the consent of the governed is thumbing its nose at all of us.”

A copy of Banister’s report, ‘Investigating the Federal Income Tax,’ can be ordered from his website.

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.