Snipes Hunt Over


In a sad day for the "tax honesty movement" of income tax rebels, actor Wesley Snipes, who used unorthodox tax advice from "American Rights Litigators" to not file or not pay taxes the government insists he owes, surrenders to the feds in Orlando.

Snipes plans to blame those who gave him the advice, apparently. American Rights Litigators slammed as the "Hee Haw contingent of the anti-tax movement" here.

My May 2004 Reason feature
on the wild, wooly world of income tax rebels.

NEXT: Vietnamese Resistance

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Sigh.
    You knew it would end this way but you kept trying to fool yourself.

  2. I see Snipes has been taking his tax advice from those domestic shortwave radio broadcasts…

  3. Didn’t they warn him about trusting honkies? Especially the insane ones?

  4. Wasn’t Snipes aware of what happened to Survivor Richard Hatch?

  5. You know the really stupid thing about all of this tax protest stuff is that it doesn’t matter what you may think the law technically says. It don’t matter of the money we use ain’t legal, or that Ohio isn’t really a state, or that we file on a voluntary basis so we really don’t have to. There is almost a hundred year history of legal requirements to file a return and pay the tax. If you are dumb enough to think the government is going to buy off on any of this, well, let’s put it this way, government knows what side the bread’s buttered on.

    Then again, there was that Fed Ex pilot who beat the system……….

  6. The Wine Commonsewer:

    I can’t tell if you’re being facetious or not, so I’ll just play it straight.

    The Federal Express pilot you’re referring to (Vernice B. Kuglin) didn’t “beat the system” in the manner you imply. She was acquitted of tax fraud, true, but all that accomplished was to save her ass from jail time. She still had to fork over all the unpaid income tax (over half a million dollars, according to this IRS FAQ).

  7. I’ve had some personal contact with Irwin Schiff over the years and found him to be a pleasant enough fellow and a lively conversationalist. Still, I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him.

  8. The Wine Commonsewer,

    Are you speaking of a maritime court? I noticed the gold fringe on the flag.

  9. Everyone always knew where Snipes was. he posted bond and is probably already back in Namibia.

    And the Snipes issue with IRS has been going on since 1996, IIRC.

  10. All you need to do is move to a non-extradition country. Jeeze.

  11. Son, I seriously thought that Kuglin was off the hook.

    Guy, fringe? well we are sort of a fringe.

  12. As the following film reveals, there have been cases where folks have prevailed against the IRS in court with their contention that the income tax is illegal.

    Watch this movie to understand the legal foundations for non-payment of income tax and to understand the history, including outright fraud, of the Federal Reserve, and the case for its abolition. Hollywood movie producer and candidate for the Libertarian Party presidential nomination, Aaron Russo, produce it:

    America: Freedom to Fascism

    The movie is very well researched, documented, and argued. It is also very frightening.

    Here is the America: Freedom to Fascism web site:

    Discloser: Although I pay my federal income taxes, I’m joining the political movement spearheaded by Aaron Russo to abolish both the IRS and the Federal Reserve.

  13. You can view the entire movie, free of charge, at the first link that I provided.

    The movie is also very entertaining.

  14. The arguments by tax protestors that the 16th amendment was not properly ratified are pretty absurd. 1) the differences in the texts of the ratifying instruments from state legislatures are de minimis, and 2) the Constitution is pretty anemic on the process of amendment, so as long as 3/4 of the states agree, that’s good enough.

  15. FinFangFoom,

    Absurd is one way to put it. I call it hilarious! They are right up there with the holocaust deniers, moon landing deniers, the faked death of [insert famous person] theorists, [insert non-UBL villain] 9/11 conspiracy believers, gold fringe flags == maritime/martial law court scholars, socialism == fairness fans, the ‘Rosenbergs were framed’ theologians and many others, in my book.

    They have all failed to convince me, but I do take the time to encourage them on occasion.

  16. Guy Montag:

    I commiserate with you. Obviously, reality does not sit well with some people.

  17. Guy Montag:
    That was a really good rant. Congratulations are in order.

  18. The only relevant argument in the IRS v The People debate is, “Which side has the most guns?”

    As long as the IRS is picking on a small minority of individuals, they will prevail. When the majority says, “Enough!” they’ll fold like a house of cards.

    Everyone hold your breath, now.

  19. I have heard that Eddie Kahn (whose beliefs Wesley subscribes to) was kidnapped from Panama by the feds despite no extradition treaty for tax crimes.

  20. The winecommonsewer probably has it right–
    The government is the monopoly provider of “justice” and “defense” and questions about its laws are handled by–another branch of the government–another part of the monopoly. So, why be surprised if they are not sympathetic to the tax arguments? Despite the obvious 5th Amendment implications, despite the jurisdictional issues, despite that different circuits cannot decide if the tax is a direct tax or an excise tax, despite the inability to come up with a valid assessment or to show proper delegation of authority to file a 1040 for a non filer, etc. etc.

    In the only recent tax protest case to get to the
    Supremes, they did make it harder to convict criminally saying that people have a right to sincere beliefs about the tax.

    Judges do not always allow those beliefs a proper hearing in court. The judge in Irwin Schiff’s case said he would not allow the law in his courtroom!

    And, there is no similar Supreme Court case limiting civil actions. They have a pretty free hand in grabbing your money, which is mostly what they want, anyway.

  21. Back one more time==

    The We the People Foundation

    recently held a neat demonstration in Washington DC with over a hundred folks dressed up as “V” from “V for Vendetta” –surprised Reason did not notice it–check out the cool fotos and the “No Answer-No Taxes” banner.

    They have what I believe is a very interesting case in the courts regarding not taxes per se but the First Amendment. Specifically, the right to petition clause. The case claims that right is a substantive right and Congress must hear petitions in some meaningfull way.

    Far from a mass movement, but the concept of the V demonstration was brilliant. And, those costumes cost about $100 a pop!

  22. Badnarik did that too. Shortly before he got his ass beat election-wise.

  23. J sub D,

    Thank you very much! I picked the order very carefully 🙂

  24. FinFangFoom, Guy Montag,

    That an insufficient number of states ratified the 16th amendment is established. In fact, in the movie to which I linked, a judge is quoted citing the fact in a recent court case. Here is the link for the movie again:

  25. Broadly accepted law is more potent than constitutionally correct law in every case. You could argue 90% of regulatory actions are unconstitutional, but you wouldn’t get anywhere because people like those agencies.

    You can’t gimmick yourself to liberty, people.

  26. Rick Barton,

    That an insufficient number of states ratified the 16th amendment is established.

    As much as I would like another reason to tell the supporters of the highest decorated sailor from both sides of the same war to quit whining about the 2004 election results from Ohio, I will pass on using that one.

    Come to think of it, wasn’t one of the primary fakers of the first alleged moon landing from Ohio? That Armstrong boy?

    I see this goes deeper than I ever could imagine . . .

  27. The Courts have always deferrred on the question of whether Constitutional Amendments have been properly ratified to the Congress. That the 16th Amendment has been ratified is considered settled law.

    And even if the 16th Amendment was not properly ratified, and some court ruled so, how long do you think it would take to get ratified? About a day, I should think.

  28. Mark,

    I think Rick is onto something. Just a bit ago I was watching FOX news and the USA is about to make a fake moon colony. Oh, they didn’t call it fake, but they really can’t do that you know. I could read between the lines.

    The guy who fired the missile into the Pentagon and the crew who planted the explosives for the World Trade Center are rumored to be from Ohio too.

    And don’t get me started on Karl Rove faking Lincoln’s death!

  29. Just to re-establish my crazy cred – I do believe that the fringe on the flag means something. The argument “It’s just a bit of decoration” looks pretty threadbare when you discover that all the military service flags and the Presidential flag have fringe specified in their design, while no other Federal flag does. (Including the flag for the Secretary of Defense…who is a civilian.) Now, do I think it means anything practical WRT the law? Not really. I’m with Jason Ligon in that regard: the courts, as a whole, will do what they want, and to win, you need to convince them, not yourself. They’re not going to fall over and cry uncle just because you think you’re clever.

  30. Guy Montag,

    One of the reasons for political conspiracy theories is political conspiracy. It does happen. When we debase conspiracy analysis, we’re throwing out an invaluable tool for understanding real politic. Political power is often transmitted via the machinations of hidden collusion and miss-direction. Often, conspiracy theorizing is the only way to apprehend political reality.

    I think we need to engage in conspiracy analysis to understand political power. We need to ask the question; Who benefits? I like Rothbard’s extension of common sense conspiracy analysis from smaller political situations like the collusion of labor and management to enact tariffs, to larger things like entry into war, the creation of the Fed. etc.

  31. That the 16th Amendment has been ratified is considered settled law.

    That’s not true. The contention that it hasn’t been ratified is one of the points that some folks have used to defeat the IRS in court.

    As I said, in the movie to which I linked, a judge is quoted in a recent court case
    citing the fact that the 16th Amendment was never ratified:

  32. And you people want to know why libertarians don’t get elected? It’s because you keep on with these sorts of arguements.

    Look, if you don’t want to pay income taxes, then don’t pay income taxes. But don’t come whining to me for sympathy when the IRS gets medieval on you. Especially since you are still taking advantage of all those things that your income taxes would have paid for.

    If you really believed what you preached about no taxes, you’d move to a country that had no taxes. Like Ethiopia. Or Iraq.

  33. All right, so if the Income Tax Amendment was never ratified, then the amendment we call the Seventeenth was in fact the Sixteenth, and so on.

    So what do we do with the Twenty-First — excuse me, the Twentieth — Amendment? That’s the amendment which was generally understood as repealing Prohibition. Here’s a key phrase:

    “The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is herely repealed.”

    We generally refer to the Prohibition Amendment as the eighteenth. But that presumes that the Income Tax Amendment is #16! Leave out the Income Tax Amendment, and the Prohibition Amendment gets bumped down to #17. That means that what we call the Nineteenth Amendment is actually #18. What does that amendment say?

    “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

    “Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

    So, woman’s suffrage has been taken out of the U. S. Constitution, putting the matter back in the hands of the states!

    I’d drink to that, but since the Prohibition Amendment has actually not been repealed, it would be illegal to furnish me with beverage alcohol.

  34. Rick Barton,

    I’m about an hour into watching that movie (and listening as I post this). Some of the more esoteric arguments sound great but won’t play, but the arguments about the Federal Reserve System, which is where I am now, are not only sound, but morally correct. The destruction of the Federal Reserve System is the only way to begin to break the chains.

    Good luck with that, though. How do you take up arms against the bankers? It’s easier to overthrow a government than a banking system.

  35. Watching further, let’s give thanks for the RFID firewall.

  36. grumpy realist,

    I pay income taxes but if, for any of a few reasons, the income tax is unconstitutional, and that’s where the evidence seems to point, then they’re being illegally extracted from us.

    By their nature, all taxes are a limitation of liberty. The only tme that a case might be able to be made for them not being so is if they are exclusively spent to protect individual; liberty.

    The evidence is abundant that taxes tend to harm both the production and consumption of wealth.

  37. Rick Barton,

    Pony up your copy of an F4506-T delivered to Reason Magazine showing that you have not filed an income tax return for a while.

    Otherwise, you are as relevant as those “taxation without representation” freaks in the only CONUS part of the USA that is NOT supposed to be represented in the Congress, per the Constitution, as relevant as those folks that believe in the flag fringe crap and as relevant as those folks who believe that you really can get away with operating a motor vehicle without a license if it is not commercial or carrying a concealed pistol without a license (outside VT or AK).

    The last 2 items I wish be the case, but they are not.

  38. Ah, our posts went in almost at the same time.

    So, you assert that we need not pay income tax but you do anyway, with all manner of “exidence” that we don’t need to.

    Cute, really cute.

  39. Guy Montag,

    As I said, I pay income taxes. My relevancy is not what is relevant for this discourse. It’s the legality or lack thereof of the Fed. Income tax.

    Just as political movements have made it so those two states allow carrying a concealed pistol without a license, so we should join a political movement to abolish the income tax and the Federal Reserve.

  40. jf,

    Yeah, the abolition of the Federal Reserve would have the effect of the removal of giant leach. That seems to be Russo’s main mission.

  41. As I am fully in the camp that it should be perfectly legal to carry and conceal any weapon that is regularly issued to the Infantry, I know tha the settled law is not in the direction of my desire.

    I also know that what you are trying to get others into trouble with what is not the law, but pure fantasy on your part with a fancy video that is worthy of Noam Chomsky, Gore Vidal and his dimmer cousin Al Gore, granted them on other topics.

    Now, when you STOP paying income taxes and prove to us that you stopped (I gave you the link to the form) then I will believe you.

    When the USSC recognizes that I can carry concealed without a 2nd Amendment license, then I will do that too.

    What your fetish hate for the Fed is I do not know and, believe me (please) I have been hearing wacky arguments about it’s “illegality” for well over 20 years now, that are just re-hashings of 100s year old nonsense.

  42. but pure fantasy on your part with a fancy video worthy of Noam Chomsky, Gore Vidal …

    It’s quite evident that you haven’t actually watched the movie. The contention in the movie concerning the Fed is not about its illegality, rather, the advisability of its abolition.

  43. I also know that what you are trying to get others into trouble…

    I’m not trying to get anyone into trouble, especially the folks who frequent this place. I’m hoping that others might join political action to rid us of the fed and/or the income tax. We have nothing to lose but our chains.

  44. Thos posts do not look like the results of a F4506-T request.

  45. Guy:

    Now, when you STOP paying income taxes and prove to us that you stopped then I will believe you.

    Were I an African American 40 to 50 years ago in some of our southern states, and if I did not want to take the risks of trying to register to vote, it would in no way diminish my contention that the government’s obstructing my efforts ro register was illegal.

  46. Ok, if you hate the income so much, then run on a political platform advocating for the abolishing of it.

    And don’t forget explaining how you’re going to pay for the stuff you’re getting from the federal government right now that income taxes go for. Y’know, the stuff like the military, the law courts, all those nice federal highways that you drive along, for starters. For a bunch of people who think property rights are the end-all, you seem to ignore the fact that *KEEPING* property rights from devolving down into nothing more than “might makes right” involves a whole lot of law courts and policemen enforcing the laws.

    Law is ITSELF a construction of government, for all those of you who are tossing around legalese on this thread.

    Look, why don’t you just go get a copy of Mad Max and wank off to it, ok?

  47. grumpy realist,

    If the federal government was reduced to its proper role of protecting life, liberty and property, it would have more than enough funds without the imposition of an income tax to pay for the military, and the federal law courts. Gas taxes pay for the federal highways.

    An income tax that harms liberty and prosperity and a government that wastes all that money is not very realistic, Grumpy.

  48. Guy Montag:

    I do not file taxes, and I will be happy to fill out a F4506-T request if you wish. Now will you agree with us?

    In my limited experience, if you pay the withholding and do not file they will eventually estimate your taxes for you and file a return on your behalf. No harm, no foul. You lose out on a few tax breaks, but your “soul is pristine” (or whatever wackoid phrase you prefer), and you can claim the moral high ground if you care about such things (I do not).

    They just want the money; you don’t have to kiss the ring. Now will you watch the film and shut the fuck up about the F4506-T?

  49. If typographical errors are enough to invalidate the ratification of Constitutional amendments, then the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments weren’t ratified, either.

    Judge examines and rejects argument that 16th amendment was not properly ratified.

    Also, just to stir the pot a little: Why the Federal Reserve is Irrelevant.

  50. Don’t be an evader or protester. Just be like me and Badnarik, and join the “Tax minimizer” unemployment movements.

    Either earn so little that you don’t have to file taxes ( or if you do, you at least don’t owe any) or take advantage of all the easy deductions.

    It beats going to prison.

  51. David Rollins,

    How would you expect to vote 50 years ago if, as Son of a! points out, the amendments protecting that right are just as ‘illegal’ as the one you don’t like now? Actually, are you doing anything to get these ‘illegal’ amendments ratified?

    I now require a copy of form 27B/6 (twenty-seven-B-stroke-six) as I am a stickler for paperwork.

    Son of a!, thank you for the Fed Reserve link. Pretty much what we got in Economics and Finance classes in the early 90s, with a different approach and sme new info.

    Johncjackson, one approach is to earn as much as you can but constantly owe without paying. Can’t go to jail, but at some point they might take all of your stuff (that you couldn’t afford if you don’t make enough to pay income taxes). Key is, file honestly and you just owe money, not jail time.

  52. I realize there’s probably no one still reading at this point, but I thought I’d post here something that just occurred to me.

    If we invalidate amendments 14-16 on account of typography, then apply Mad Max’s logic about the 21st amendment, we find that the 18th amendment is, in fact, what we call the 21st amendment.

    So, I guess it isn’t part of the constitution, either, since it’s just repealing itself.

  53. Son of a!,

    I think you missed one reader 🙂

    As I pondered what Mr. Rollins proposed I noticed a business opportunity for the scholars who believe in this amendment nullification through misspellings business.

    Since, according to the scholars, 14, 15 and 16 are invalid, then they could, in good conscience (if that means anything to them) market full income tax refunds to anybody who believes that they are a person incorrectly covered by 14 & 15. Sort of like that reparations scheme that has been going around for the past 15 or 20 years.

    Not a business model that I would endorse, of course, but if these guys really believe this stuff then they could try to make a ‘tax free’ living by helping others!

    Oh, and another link for the moonbats: The “Moon”: A Ridiculous Liberal Myth

    Was going to the moon unconstitutional? What about faking it? What about faking the moon itself? Perhaps the moon is invalid?

  54. Rick: Having encountered tax protestors of virtually every variety possible in the course of my career (I am a tax attorney), I would like to ask you some questions: What is the purpose of arguing that the income tax is illegal? If it is not to convince others to stop filing tax returns, what is the goal? If it is to convince people to elect representatives who will abolish the income tax, why waste time arguing that it is illegal? In fact, isn’t the latter strategy undermined by your arguments, to the extent it implies that the “powers that be” will perpetuate the tax regardless of whom you vote for? Or are you calling for open rebellion, a la Mr Shays?

    I do not intend to be insulting here, but having learned long ago there is no point arguing the merits of the issues with tax protestors, I have no interest whatsoever in discussing your points above, but I am curious about your motives.

  55. Guy Montag:

    Thanks for the link. I had totally forgotten that the moon wasn’t real. (I know, I know: “How can you forget something as mind-blowing as that?” What can I say? The liberal media’s propaganda campaign is relentless.)

    I’ll have to bookmark it so I don’t forget. It’ll go along with the one I picked up here on H&R about a month ago: The “State” Of Idaho: The Case For Open Debate.

  56. Son of a!,

    Very welcome.

    There are people who believe Idaho is a State?

    There must be a marketing opportunity somewhere in there too.

  57. I think Mad Max had the best post in this thread.

    I think the stuff about the income tax being illegal is a bunch of nonsense. The law is what it is. The suckitude does not make it any less real.

  58. thoreau,

    I think Mad Max had the best post in this thread.

    I agree. Don’t trust whitie.

  59. Mr Grumpy Realist is far off the mark in his assertion that eliminating the income tax would remove many good things that the government provides.

    Also, he is far off the mark in believing that law is only those statutes passed by a government legislature and enforced in government courts. (legal positivism).

    If the income tax were abolished today, it would remove approximately 35% of government revenue. The government would be reduced to taking in receipts that (if it were a business that had to live within its means) would necessitate its reduction to about the size it had in 1988. Yes, that is 1988, not 1888. The government would be about the size it was under Bush 41.

    Any good conservative should be able to sit down with pen and paper and whack off a mere 35% of the gargantuan federal budget before breakfast. And leave adequate amounts for defense, courts, and roads. Whether we should have federal police, or federal prisons for all the numerous unconstitutional federal crimes that the legislature under Mr Grumpy’s theory of legal positivism has created is fodder for another debate.

  60. US District Judge James C. Fox in a 2003 ruling: “If you … examined [the 16th Amendment] carefully, you would find that a sufficient number of states never ratified that amendment”.

    Judge Fox’s quoted statement can be found on page 23 of the ruling’s 26 pages. The ruling was in Sullivan v. U.S., 03-CV-39, US District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Wilmington, 21 March 2003.

    Judge Fox used the invalid ratification of the 16th Amendment as an example to argue that some parts of the Constitution are in there because of long-term usage, despite those parts’ being properly unconstitutional. Judge Fox comments that no federal court will throw out the 16th Amendment, no matter what evidence of its improper ratification is brought, precisely because of its long-term use.

    But surley this injustice is not any less so because of “long term usage”. And surely considering long term usage flies in the face of the revered doctrine of the original intent. And what can “a nation of laws not men” possibly mean if we allow unconstitutionality to continue longer just cuz it already has for a while?

    Disclosure: I have no affiliation with the Populist Party. The link is just one of the places where you can find the Judge Fox’x quote and commentary. It is: An Analysis and Review of Aaron Russo’s Film, America: Freedom to Fascism to which I linked up-thread.

  61. Ron:

    If it is to convince people to elect representatives who will abolish the income tax, why waste time arguing that it is illegal?

    That’s what I hope for-political pressure. Don’t you think that publicizing the fact that taxes are being extracted from folks unconstitutionally adds political impetus to end the theft?

    In fact, isn’t the latter strategy undermined by your arguments, to the extent it implies that the “powers that be” will perpetuate the tax regardless of whom you vote for?

    Just cuz the powers that be have operated contra the law in the pat, starting some 90 years ago when they prevailed upon the government to announce that the 16th was properly ratified when it was actually not, doesn’t mean that they will again. And most important, the fact that they have being made common knowledge ought to increase the political pressure.

  62. So, now that the moon is not real does that mean becoming an Astronayt is futile?

  63. I also meant to mention that IRS says they don’t have to give consideration to your fifth amendment rights until it’s a criminal matter. When they’re just taking your money by seizing your home, bank account, or paycheck it’s okay because you aren’t going to jail.

  64. Rick Barton: There are lots of laws out there that are unconstitutional in my view; unfortunately, the Courts haven’t seen it that way yet. The danger of making the “unconstitutional” argument re the income tax is that credulous persons may be tempted to believe they actually have a chance in court. In my experience, the most vocal and articulate tax protestors almost always file and pay taxes (or they have no income to speak of), but they manage to convince folks like Mr. Snipes, who has much more to lose, that these arguments have merit in court.

    By the way, you can find at least one US District Court Judge to say just about anything about the law. In Nevada, a couple of them were impeached for refusing to pay social security taxes.

    By the way, I am no fan of the income tax. It is grossly unfair to wage earners, who invariably end up paying much more than a self-employed person with the same income. A credit-invoice VAT is the way to go, but it must be in lieu of the income tax, not in addition to it.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.