A Texas man is now in his 24th day of a hunger strike in Austin, vowing to die of starvation if he doesn’t receive what he believes is an adequate answer from the federal government to one question: “Where is my tax liability in the law?”

Gene Chapman, 36 and single, says he has lost 40 pounds so far and expects to survive another two or three weeks. He sits outside for at least one hour each day across from the Austin IRS office, dressed as Mahatma Gandhi, after whom he is patterning his fast.

Gene Chapman sits across the street from IRS office.

Chapman says on his blog site: “If this were India, there would be two- or three-thousand people out there fasting with me right now. So there you go. The difference between the culture in India and the culture in America. But I’m happy with twenty-three,” he said, referring to the number of people who joined him Saturday for a rally. “I’m happy with one. I didn’t do this to get a crowd; I did it to make a one-man stand, and if people want to stand with me they’re welcome to, and if they don’t then that’s fine, too.”

Having studied for Christian ministry, Chapman has been busy studying biblical references to extortion – a practice he believes the IRS is engaged in by its very existence.

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.

Referencing the practices of Gandhi, Chapman told WND he “won’t back out of a vow” he made to refrain from food.

“I want to pay any tax I owe,” he said, saying the Bible exhorts him to do so. But, Chapman says, “I can’t find a law that says I owe a tax.”

According to Chapman, the IRS claims he owes approximately $20,000 in back taxes, fees and interest. He said two government agents talked to him over two weeks ago, telling him his concern is being researched in Washington, D.C. The activist doesn’t expect to hear back from them.

“I talked actually to [Sen.] Kay Bailey Hutchison’s Austin office today,” Chapman says in an audio interview posted on his blog, “and of course they knew who I was. They were aware of me. Supposedly somebody from Washington is supposed to call me but, you know, if it’s like Congressman [Michael] Burgess’ office, it’ll probably just be a dead end. … I’m not too optimistic about responsive government at this point. Twenty-three days of no answers pretty well makes the case of unresponsive government.”

After reading a story about Chapman, a pair of WND readers e-mailed the newssite a link to an IRS document they say provides Chapman with the answer he seeks. The report, called “The Truth About Frivolous Tax Arguments,” addresses what the agency sees as the most common arguments against the legality of the federal income tax. (Note: Adobe Acrobat is required to view the IRS link.)

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