by Brian Mahany
Frankly, I don’t get it. The IRS was told by Congress in 1998 to stop stigmatizing those in the tax freedom movement by calling them tax protesters. When I think of protest, I think of our founding fathers and the Boston tea party. Back then, “tax protester” was a patriotic term. As late as 1973, the postal service issued commemorative stamps of patriots protesting British taxes by throwing crates of tea in Boston Harbor.
Tax protesters are no longer patriots. One federal prosecutor that I met in Chicago compared tax protesters to “domestic terrorists.” Somehow its hard to compare Paul Revere to Timothy McVeigh.
Congress enacted section 3707 of the Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 which says that IRS employees can no longer refer to certain taxpayers as “tax protesters” or “Constitutionally challenged.” (Perhaps Congress wanted to reserve the latter designation for itself?)
The ever vigilant Treasury Inspector General recently found that IRS employees still use the term in case narratives, however.
It’s hard to get upset at the Service for using such terms. When prosecutors call delinquent taxpayers “domestic terrorists” or “tax defiers,” a return to the plain and patriotic term tax protester doesn’t seem so bad.
No matter how you label them, the IRS and Justice Department’s Tax Division has its sites set on those few who persist in raising what the government considers to be frivolous arguments. Tax attorneys and CPA’s can lose their license for raising such positions and taxpayers can face severe fines.
What one person calls the tax freedom movement, others call tax protest groups. Just remember, the government holds the cards and the final arbiters of the law are the courts. Without taking any sides in the battle, advancing an argument the court deems frivolous is not likely to work.
The real solution is political reform. Until the public gets angry enough and demands change, the laws today do not favor those who fail to pay taxes or report their income.
We are a unique law firm that understands the tax freedom movement yet understands the practical side of tax compliance. If you haven’t filed or improperly filed and wish to avoid prosecution, call us.
The IRS has a first contact policy meaning that if we contact them first, criminal prosecution is unlikely. It’s great to share your thoughts and make the world aware of your interpretation of the law, but going to jail only makes you a lonely martyr. Talk to us first. Our Wisconsin tax attorneys have helped dozens of people come into compliance, avoid protracted legal battles and often save thousands in penalties.
Mahany & Ertl is a full service boutique law firm that concentrates in tax resolution, fraud and white-collar criminal defense. From our offices in Milwaukee, Detroit and Portland, we have helped people all over the US. Contact Brian Mahany at (414) 704-6731 (direct dial) or by email at
Mahany & Ertl, LLC – tax compliance, U.S. Tax Court litigation, collection representation, IRS appeals, offers in compromise, innocent spouse defense, welfare benefit plan recovery, audit defense and criminal tax defense (tax evasion).