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Joe Stack IRS attack and the growth of the tax resistance movement

Federal tax authorities spend a lot of time trying to convince Americans like IRS attacker Joe Stack that paying taxes is part of one’s civic duty. But resistance – though not violence – is downright American, say tax protesters like Wesley Snipes.

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“Most Americans would probably agree that our hatred for taxes has something to do with a more profound aversion to government in general – an aversion with deep roots in our history,” writes Robin Einhorn, author of “American Taxation, American Slavery,” in a 2006 essay. “A nation founded in a tax revolt, we are told, is true to itself only when it is ‘starving the beast.’”

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Yet the fomenters of the original Boston Tea Party, Mr. Einhorn writes, “had no interest in renouncing their own power to tax themselves.”

Terrorist plots against the IRS

The Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project counts five known domestic terrorist plots against the IRS in the past 15 years. Tensions are rising as federal tax authorities have begun stepping up collection efforts in the midst of flagging tax receipts.

"There's been an explosive growth of anti-government militias and so-called Patriot groups over the past year, and the central idea of many of them is that taxes are completely illegitimate," Intelligence Project editor Mark Potok tells Fox News.

It’s not just conservatives, either. Part of the tax resistance movement is left-wing resisters who don’t want their tax money spent on foreign wars.

Some resisters , the AP writes, believe the 16th Amendment to the Constitution, which authorizes Congress to levy income taxes, was not legally ratified; it was ratified in 1913. There’s also a belief that paying taxes is purely voluntary (nope, the IRS says).

“Unfortunately, on the fringes of the new anti-elitism, pockets of extreme anti-tax resistance rage,” writes Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page.

Jonathan Siegel, a law professor at George Washington University, tells the Wall Street Journal that the tax-protester or tax-denier movement has been fueled in the past two decades by technology.

Yet, Mr. Siegel adds, “Mr. Stack doesn't fit the traditional profile of a tax denier because, while he appears to have complained about taxes and sought to evade them, he didn't claim he was under no legal obligation to pay them.”


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