Wesley Snipes, Joe Stack and the Growth of the Tax Resistance Movement

Federal tax authorities spend a lot of time trying to convince Americans like IRS attacker Joe Stack that paying taxes is part of one’s civic duty. But resistance – though not violence – is downright American, say tax protesters like Wesley Snipes. Patrick Johnson reports for the Christian Science Monitor:

Commenting on the suicide plane attack on an IRS office building in Austin, Texas, by tax resister Joe Stack, actor and tax protester Wesley Snipes shrugged his shoulders and said: “I think [tax revolt] was an issue even for the early colonists and the British, so what’s new?”

The Boston Tea Party. The Whiskey Rebellion. The Sagebrush Rebellion.

Since its very founding, the US has been awash in sometimes violent anti-tax movements, giving way to a strain, amid ever broader federal reach, of a particularly pervasive, and more individualistic, form of rebellion in the late 20th century: The tax-resistance, or tax-denial, phenomenon.

Mr. Stack, a software engineer and musician, apparently bought into a tax resistance argument that dates back to the 1950s, as he references in his 3,000 word manifesto his attempt to claim “wonderful exemptions” that the IRS ultimately didn’t approve.

Two people, including Stack, died and two others were hurt after he piloted his Piper Cherokee into a 200-person IRS office in Austin’s Echelon Building on Thursday.

Though few hail Stack’s arguably terrorist act as an appropriate retort against the taxman, his lament does dovetail with a deep resistance in the American zeitgeist to over-bearing taxation.

That’s why the Drudge Report made much of a recent IRS purchase order for 60 sawed-off shotguns, which shouldn’t have been that surprising since the IRS’ criminal division already has 2,700 armed special agents.

Escaping European serfdom, Americans mixed their latent distrust of centralized power with a sense of individual and economic freedom, which modern conservatism, especially, equates with tax relief…

[continues in the Christian Science Monitor]

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  • tonyviner

    Resistance may be the only thing that is truly American, even if we did steal the idea from those that came before us.

  • 5by5

    I don't mind paying taxes. With them, I buy civilization.

    I do, however, think many things about them are LONG overdue for reform.

    First, everyone — corporations and individuals alike — should pay a graduated tax that increases in percentage as the amount you or the company earned. No exceptions, no loopholes. Right now most Fortune 500 corporations pay either ZERO taxes or actually get refunds, while individuals get royally screwed. That's not right. And anyone making under $50k a year should pay nothing.

    Second, the tax form and the tax law itself should be no longer than ONE PAGE. If it takes you longer than that to explain what you're doing, something squirrelly is going on. One reason why this poor slob who ran the plane into the building was so desperate, was because he was getting fucked by these micro-provisions that nobody sane has ever heard of. Those need to go bye-bye.

    Third, there should be a line item on the tax form that allows individuals (not corporations) to designate to which precise department 10% of their tax revenue will go. I think the Dept. of Education, NASA, the EPA, and the NEA do more to strengthen this country than the DOD does, but mileage may differ for others. If each of us at least had the right to vote with SOME of our dollars, I think much of this anger would dissipate a bit.

    Cicero said, “Freedom is participation in power.”

    Right now the American people do not feel that the tax system reflects their democratic values to voice an opinion about how their money is spent. They feel powerless in the tax process. So empower people.

    That kind of direct, participatory democracy is something that people will appreciate a helluva lot more than the current system, while still allowing government to manage the majority of the funds for things that the average person may not be aware of like needed infrastructure upgrades.

    It would also be VERY interesting to see WHAT Americans wanted their money to go to, without the filter of the politicians or the media in the way.

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