Friday, June 15, 2007

Storm Clouds Gathering

My trusty web counter serves as a barometer of activity in the bizarre world of tax protestors. As loyal readers know, I have an eccentric interest in the strange goings-on among those who claim that there's no law requiring most Americans to pay income tax, and I maintain some web pages explaining why they're wrong. When there's a big event in this world, activity on these pages spikes, so when I noticed this week that my hits were more than double the usual amount, I knew something was up.

It seems that we might be nearing the conclusion of the strange story of Ed and Elaine Brown. According to news reports, this New Hampshire couple, although earning an average of over $200,000 a year, paid no taxes from 1996 to 2003. A jury convicted them of 17 felony counts in January -- but they weren't there. They've barricaded themselves in their home and said they will defend themselves against anyone who tries to arrest them. The judge in their case sentenced them (in absentia) to 63 months in prison, but the sentence has yet to be carried out because the Browns are still in their home. The U.S. Marshals, to avoid blodshed, have not yet moved against them.

As is typical of tax protestors, Brown claims that there is no law requiring him to pay taxes, and he even says he will pay immediately if the government will just show him the law requiring him to do so.

Now, according to wholly unreliable sources, the Marshals have called the Browns to say that they are coming to arrest them soon and hope to avoid violence. So perhaps this bizarre incident may be drawing to a close, hopefully without a Waco-like fiery finish, despite the Browns pledge of "freedom or body bags." But perhaps it's all a rumor and there will be a lot more waiting before the end.

What's truly astonishing is the outpouring of public support for these criminals. All over the web, there are sites and forums proclaiming what heroes the Browns are for violating the tax laws and how outrageous it is that the government might want to put these convicted criminals in jail. I've been getting a lot of mail about them.

I can understand the romantic attraction of a Robin Hood-like figure who steals from the rich and gives to the poor, but the Browns are stealing from everybody and keeping it for themselves. The Browns are not poor -- their income puts them in the highest category that the census keeps track of. And that category is "$100,000 and over," so the Browns $200,000 figure puts them off the chart. By not paying their taxes, they're making honest taxpayers pay more. They've basically stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars from honest, hard-working taxpayers, most of whom are poorer than them, and kept it for themselves.

Something is wrong in the country when people hate the government so much that they'd rather support these tax criminals than see them arrested. We need to figure out some way to reach out to this vast, disaffected community.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Maybe Congress should just pass a statute which says "yes, you really do have to pay taxes."