Not Filing Tax Returns because "the 16th Amendment was not Properly Ratified" is a One Way Ticket to Prison-By Robert Greenslade - Price of Liberty
Not Filing Tax Returns because "the 16th Amendment was not Properly Ratified" is a One Way Ticket to Prison
By Robert Greenslade © Nitwit Press

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December 29, 2004

Joseph Banister, a Certified Public Accountant and former IRS Special Agent was arrested at his San Jose home last month on a federal indictment accusing him of numerous tax crimes. According to news reports, Banister advised clients they didn't have to file federal income tax returns because "the 16th Amendment was not properly ratified." If convicted of all counts, Banister could be sentenced to 14 years in prison and face a $1 million fine.

After hearing San Francisco radio talk host Geoff Metcalf discuss the 16th Amendment with Devvy Kidd in a 1996 interview, Banister allegedly began doubting the legality of federal tax laws and, after conducting extensive research, resigned from the IRS two years later. Since the 16th Amendment is not the constitutional source of any federal income tax. See: The 16th Amendment is not the Source of the Federal Income Tax, not filing returns because "the Amendment was not properly ratified" is nothing but a one-way ticket to federal prison.

Several years ago I was on Metcalf's website and attempted to participate in a forum discussion of this topic. Since the IRS had criminally prosecuted me ten years earlier, and I had been doing in-depth research on the income tax issue since the early 1980's, I was somewhat qualified to discuss their assertions concerning the 16th Amendment. Instead of gleaning information from my experience and engaging in a meaningful debate, I was personally attacked and ridiculed for daring to present facts that contradicted their preconceived opinions. After they accused me of being a government agent who was covertly attempting to undermine Ms. Kidd, the webmaster, while Metcalf was away on business, banned me from the site. In addition, all the research documentation I had included with my comments was removed from the site.

In my mind, when so-called patriots censor speech and restrict debate to protect their turf they become as oppressive and dangerous as government. My experience with these self-professed champions of liberty left a very bad taste in my mouth because what they say on radio shows and post on websites could have serious consequences for other people. Some poor sap working two jobs to support his wife and kids will get a hold of their information and use it as the basis for not filing his income tax returns. Then when the criminal division of the IRS comes knocking at his door a few years later, the 16th Amendment gurus who laid the foundation for his predicament will be nowhere to be found.

In spite of claims to the contrary, the federal government had the power to impose income taxes before the Amendment was ratified, or not ratified, and it would retain that power even if the Amendment was torn out of the Constitution and thrown in the trashcan. All the Amendment did was settle the constitutional controversy as to whether income taxes fall in the category of direct or indirect taxes.

In 1980, the Congressional Research Service (CRS), an independent agency that does research for Congress, prepared a report that discussed the effect of the Sixteenth Amendment on the federal government's power to tax:

The Supreme Court, in a decision written by Chief Justice White, first noted that the Sixteenth Amendment did not authorize any new type of tax, nor did it repeal or revoke the tax clauses of Article I of the Constitution… Direct taxes were, notwithstanding the advent of the Sixteenth Amendment, still subject to the rule of apportionment and indirect taxes were still subject to the rule of uniformity.

As stated by CRS, the Amendment did not authorize any new type of tax or repeal or revoke the existing clauses. Indirect taxes were still subject to the rule of uniformity and direct taxes were still required to be apportioned among the several States. The 16th Amendment simply restricted income taxes to the category of indirect taxes.

Mr. Bannister and his fellow 16th Amenders have taken a different position. They believe the Amendment invalidated the apportionment clause and granted the federal government the power to impose a direct non-apportioned income tax on the American people. Ms. Kidd, who collaborated with Bannister after he left the IRS, stated that when the Amendment was "fraudulently ratified, it unlawfully nullified the apportionment clause of the Constitution." She stated the federal government is resisting efforts to prove the Amendment was not properly ratified because "it would reinstate the apportionment clause of the Constitution." In all my years of research, I have not been able to find any creditable documentation that supports these assertions.

If the Amendment nullified the apportionment clause and granted the federal government the power to impose a direct non-apportioned income tax on the American people, then the attorneys at CRS would have stated that fact in their report because such a power would benefit government. Instead, we have an independent agency telling Congress, based on Supreme Court decisions, that the Amendment did not remove the apportionment requirement for direct taxes. It should be noted that the Supreme Court decisions referenced by CRS to substantiate their conclusions have never been overturned.

This brings us back to Mr. Bannister. When you decide to take on the IRS, the best witness for the government in a criminal case is you. Everything you write, everything you do, everything you say, to anyone, is potential evidence for the US Attorney to use against you. In reality, you are auditioning for a possible court appearance. This is why it's critical to have all the facts straight before you open your mouth and step into the government's arena. When you make a mistake, its like handing government the rope to hang you. When Bannister advised clients that they did not have to file returns because "the 16th Amendment was not properly ratified," he handed government the rope that will hang him.

When an individual is charged with a federal tax crime, the government must prove that a defendant willfully violated the law. Willfulness is generally defined as the voluntary, intentional violation of a known legal duty. An individual can negate willfulness by showing that he or she had a good faith misunderstanding of the law. Courts have ruled that not filing returns because a defendant claims the 16th Amendment was not properly ratified does not constitute a good faith misunderstanding of the law. Since it appears from news reports that Bannister based his conduct on the 16th Amendment not properly ratified assertion, I predict he will be unable to negate the willfulness component of the charges against him. In fact, the US Attorney will use his 16th Amendment statements against him. As a result, he will be convicted, and, because he was a former IRS agent, they will make an example of him to demonstrate the folly of not filing returns based the alleged non-ratification of the 16th Amendment.

If Mr. Bannister is not a government stooge attempting to solicit business for the Justice Department by misleading unsuspecting Americans into not filing income tax returns, then he is going to spend his time in federal prison wishing he never heard that radio interview in 1996.

Editor's Note: Please understand that this doesn't mean we believe the tax is right or even legal. It just doesn't have anything to do with the 16th Amendment. We must find other grounds and other methods to stop this theft. MamaLiberty


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