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The Tax Code: The Law That Never Was?

Monday, 09 April 2001 12:00 AM

Hundreds of protesters from almost every state marched outside IRS headquarters. The IRS asked for and then rejected a written request from the group for a meeting with IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti.

There seems to be a case of "Catch-22" going on in the efforts of the prime sponsor of the march, We The People Foundation, to force a showdown on the issue of whether the 16th Amendment creating the tax code was sneaked past the American people through fraud and without legitimate constitutional basis.

If that were in fact the case, then none of us really owes the IRS any money next week. But before you decide to tell the IRS to get lost, you should be advised that the reason this issue has not been decided with any real finality is that Congress and the courts have booted it back and forth to each other, each refusing, in effect, to touch this one with a 10-foot pole.

Some people in this movement, in fact, have refused to pay their taxes. Bill Benson, the author of the document "The Law That Never Was," is one of them.

Showing up at the march in a wheelchair, Benson defied IRS Commissioner Rossotti to "come and get me! I’m here!"

Benson's book notes that Congress passed the amendment in 1909 and sent it on its way to the state legislatures. Under the Constitution, approval by three-fourths of the states would be required to ratify any amendment. Because there were 48 states then, 36 state approvals had to be secured, or the measure was dead.

The amendment finally became embedded in the Constitution on Feb. 25, 1913, when then-Secretary of State Philander Knox, just a few days before leaving office, counted 38 states as having ratified it.

Benson charges that Knox was not just in error on this, but committed fraud in declaring the amendment ratified.

In brief, Benson's case is as follows:

The above examples take the number down to 33 states, not enough to ratify. Benson says 12 other states violated their constitutions. That takes it down to 21, not even a majority, let alone three-fourths.

He says 17,000 documents went into his research. Though no one says it out loud, there is some plausible speculation that the reason neither Congress nor the courts would want to deal with this is that they would then have to figure out what to do about a tax code that's been rooted in a lie for 88 years.

But you don't have to take Benson's word for it. There is, or was, somewhere in the bowels of the IRS a memo from one of its own agents whose painstaking research verifies the claims in "The Law That Never Was."

Joseph R. Banister, a certified public accountant and former agent, was at the protest outside his former employer’s offices.

Banister told NewMax.com he heard a claim on a West Coast radio talk show that most Americans are not really required to file their income tax.

"Ludicrous!" he thought, and set about to spending more than two years investigating the claim, "trying to disprove them, and I could not do so."

His next thought was to "confront my superiors and find out maybe I missed something, that maybe my analysis is in error."

So he submitted a 95-page report showing the highlights of his investigation.

"And I asked my superiors why I had come to the conclusion that these claims were true. Their answer was to place me on administrative leave, [and they told] me that they were going to provide me with the paperwork to tender my resignation." A roundabout way of saying, in so many words, "You know too much!"

He had couched his memo in the words that said as a special agent, he was sworn to uphold the law, that he had a degree in accounting and the IRS trusted him to carry a gun and a badge. So he had some credentials, "and I really had a serious problem with what I was finding. And for that, I got my walking papers."

When Rossotti took over as commissioner in 1998 (a Clinton appointee whom President Bush has not yet replaced) he sent out a memo to employees about reporting misconduct. Banister provided me with a copy.

In it, the commissioner, then new on the job, said that "public confidence in the integrity of the Service is crucial to our mission."

Without any reference to whether IRS audits against Clinton critics were coincidental, Rossotti went on to call for "a code of moral or ethical values or, more simply. honesty."

Banister was obviously convinced that this code did not apply in the way the IRS reacted to his memo.

The people in the crowd outside the IRS spotted Rossotti looking out at them, and the "educated, middle-class" protesters (as their leader described them to me) motioned for the commissioner to come out and talk to them and address their points, as they chanted, "Show me the law!" The uniform of the day was a windbreaker with big government-like gold lettering on the back reading "Tyranny Rescue Team."

The security guard sent out the word that the IRS would require them to send in a written request if they wanted the commissioner to appear. They had already sent advance notice that Rossotti was invited to talk to them, but they then put together a handwritten note signed by about a half dozen of the leaders of the group.

After waiting for about 20 minutes, the word came back that the commissioner would not appear, but that if they had a tax problem, there was a system within the agency that would afford them a means of lodging their complaint.

Of course, these were not your run-of-the-mill complaints about the IRS failing to give accurate information to people with questions about their returns. These were folks who had a fundamental problem with the whole system.

I asked Bob Schulz, We The People’s chairman, if he himself filed an income tax return.

He would not comment, saying he was not, by example, trying to tell individuals what to do, one way or the other, about the information they’ve uncovered about the IRS's legitimacy, or lack thereof.

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Hundreds of protesters from almost every state marched outside IRS headquarters. The IRS asked for and then rejected a written request from the group for a meeting with IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti. There seems to be a case of Catch-22 going on in the efforts of...
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2001-00-09
Monday, 09 April 2001 12:00 AM
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