Where Have All the Anti-Tax Crusaders Gone?

When he wasn't running for governor, Fountain Valley's George "Nick" Jesson was associated with the We the People Congress, an anti-tax group that bought an ad in USA Today in 2001 challenging the government's right to tax income. Indeed, Orange County used to be crawling with anti-tax crusaders who claimed filing income tax returns was "voluntary" or "unconstitutional." Take one of their courses and they'd show you how to live tax-free.

Well, the gubment shut those classes down lickety-split. Jesson got a three-year prison sentence in 2006 after pleading guilty to three counts of felony tax evasion for filing false tax returns for 1997, 1998 and 1999. Worth an estimated $3 million at the time, Jesson didn't pay about $238,000 he owed, having written zeros on his tax returns. The feds also went after his wife, Trina Jesson.

 

Go the the We the People Congress website now, and you'll read a lot of holler about the nonprofit We the People Foundation and Congress wanting to hold elected officials accountable for their actions. But this was the only mention of taxes:

The Foundation and Congress recognize that the requirements for changes in governmental structure and process will include, but not necessarily be limited to: the clarification of the federal power to tax.

Doesn't exactly sound like a charge of illegality, now does it?

To help taxpayers cut through the "frivolous" claims, the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) just outlined several of these anti-tax arguments and matched them up with the tax penalties one would face were they to buy into them.

The baseless arguments include contending that paying taxes or filing a return is "voluntary," that tax returns can ignore all taxable income, or that filing a tax return violates constitutional protections against self-incrimination. FTB has adopted the
IRS' list of frivolous tax arguments, explained in IRS Notice 2008-14 and IRS Publication The Truth About Frivolous Tax Arguments.

Anti-tax crusading isn't helping California through its tough economic times. Unpaid taxes and false tax returns contribute to the annual $6.5 billion tax gap facing the Golden State. The state must also burn resources to respond to frivolous tax arguments, putting a strain on other public services.
 
The FTB warns it can slap a $5,000 frivolous submission penalty on a specific submission that includes material that is based on a position the board identifies as frivolous and reflects a desire to delay or impede the administration of federal or state income tax laws.
 
More details are available at ftb.ca.gov.

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