Brian Doherty on the IRS's Creative Interpretations of Tax Law


Lois Lerner

In "'It's So Simple, It's Ridiculous'" (May 2004), Brian Doherty explored the exotic world of tax rebels-Americans who believe citizens have no legal obligation to pay income tax. They describe themselves not as mere "tax protestors" but as a "tax honesty" movement, since they believe honesty about the income tax means admitting that none of us legally owe it.

While tax protestors fare no better nowadays, reports Doherty, it's the tax collectors who are today making headlines by quibbling about how to interpret various tax laws. Congress has been investigating reports that the Internal Revenue Service may have aimed unusually abusive information requests, denials of status, and bureaucratic foot-dragging at nonprofit groups with a conservative bent.