[Post updated with new content December 2018] Most people who are accused of tax evasion are otherwise rational people who made a bad choice or decision. Sometimes they simply got a bit too aggressive in their positions and sometimes they had absolutely no intent to break the law. This post is about a third category of defendants – tax protesters (or in the new vocabulary of IRS criminal investigators, a “tax defier.”) Meet Gregory Foland, the poster child of defiance.
According to the Albany Times Union, Foland was in court last week on charges of tax evasion. Prosecutors say he has failed to file several years worth of state income taxes. An alleged member of the sovereign citizen movement, Foland apparently doesn’t deal well with authority. At his arraignment before Albany County Judge Stephen Herrick, Foland repeatedly called the judge by his first name, “Steve.”
Calling a judge by his or her first name is never a good way to make a first impression. Especially when the judge has yet to set your bail.
The arraignment proceeded steadily down hill. When the judge asked Foland to confirm his name, Foland refused. Exasperated, the judge tried to confirm Foland’s identity by showing him a DMV photo and asking Foland, “Is that your picture?”
Not to be defeated by such a “difficult” question, Foland responded, “Is it in your hands? That would make it yours.”
Trying a different approach, the judge asked Foland, “Were you given the name Gregory Foland by your parents when you were born?”
Foland allegedly responded, “I don’t recall, I was a baby.”
Hoping that Foland would recall what his parents called him in middle school, Judge Herrick asked him whether he was called Gregory Foland then. Foland replied that he wasn’t going to “claim” his name.
Ultimately, Herrick had enough and held Foland in contempt. Deputies remanded him to jail. Instead of being free on bail and better able to prepare his arguments for trial, Foland may have to mount his defense from a jail cell. Not an easy task.
Members of the tax freedom movement rarely do well in court. Judges don’t like them, nor do juries. You would think that jurors might identify with tax protestors, after all, no one like paying taxes.
The interesting thing with jurors, however, is that despite disliking taxes, since they have to pay them they tend to dislike those that don’t even more.
Over the years I have both represented tax defiers in my early career and prosecuted them as well. Members of the tax freedom movement all believe that taxes are unconstitutional or that the law does not allow for such taxes.
If you study their arguments (there is much to read on the Internet), there is often an element of truth to many of their arguments. Fighting with judges at arraignment, however, is not the way to win these cases. And in the end, the IRS or state tax authorities usually prevail.
Judges are the gatekeepers to the court process and being disrespectful and refusing to answer simple questions only results in one thing. Jail.
We caution here as we do in every tax evasion story that the defendants are innocent until proven guilty.
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Sales tax evasion is illegal in every state as is income tax evasion. The IRS has a whistleblower reward program to give cash rewards to whistleblowers who confidentially come forward and provide inside information to authorities. If that information leads to taxes being collected from the tax cheat, you may be eligible for an award of up to 30% of what is collected including interest and penalties.
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Several states also have state tax whistleblower laws that cover tobacco taxes, sales tax and income taxes. The two biggest states with these reward programs are New York State and Illinois.
Mahany Law is a full service, national boutique practice concentrating in whistleblower recoveries including cases filed under the IRS Whistleblower Program and similar state laws. partner Brian Mahany is a former agent and Assistant Attorney General – Tax. Our team has years of whistleblowing experience. Our clients have received over $100 million in rewards within the last five years.
For more information, visit our IRS tax fraud whistleblower page. Ready to see if you have a case? Contact attorney Brian Mahany online, by phone at or by telephone at (direct). All inquiries are protected by the attorney – client privilege and kept in complete confidence.
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