Tax Resister Beats IRS

Lloyd L. Long believes that the income tax is voluntary and refuses to pay it. The IRS took him to court and lost.

As reported by Bill Keller in January 1994 in the Chattanooga, Tennessee Independence News Opinion, and by Lamarr Hardy in the Boise, Idaho-based Alert, Long was defended by attorneys Lowell Becraft of Huntsville, Alabama and Russell J. Leonard of Sewanee, Tennesee.

Long testified that, based on his study of the Internal Revenue Code (Title 26), he believes the income tax is an excise tax applicable only to certain persons, and not the majority of citizens (including himself). Long says Internal Revenue Code Sections 1441-1443 applies the income tax only to nonresident aliens and U.S. citizens living abroad in a country where a tax treaty exists with the United States.

U.S. Attorney Curtis Collier, representing the Internal Revenue Service, took a different view. The IRS prosecuted Long for willfully failing to file tax returns for 1989 and 1990 as "required by law."

Long admitted he had income in excess of $49,000 in each of those years and that he did not file a return. Alert described the defense's evidence that he was not required to do so:

Defense testimony showed a case titled Brushaber v. Union Pacific Railroad wherein it was the unanimous decision of the U.S. Supreme Court that the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution did not give Congress any new power to tax any new subjects; it merely tried to simplify the way in which the tax was imposed. The ruling also showed that the income tax was, in fact, an excise tax on corporate privileges and privileged occupations.

The defense then brought out a case entitled Flint v. Stone Tracy Co. wherein an excise tax was defined as being a tax laid upon the manufacture, sale and consumption of commodities within the country; upon licenses to pursue certain occupations; and upon corporate privileges.

Long's attorneys also brought out a case entitled Simins v. Arehns wherein the court ruled that the income tax was neither a property tax nor a tax upon occupations of common right, but was an excise tax.

Next the defense turned to the case of Redfield v. Fisher. In this instance, the court ruled that an individual, unlike the corporation, cannot be taxed for the mere privilege of existing, but that the individual's right to live and own property was a natural right upon which an excise cannot be imposed. Defense also pointed to several studies done by the Congressional Research Service showing the income tax is an excise.

A Tennessee Supreme Court case, Jack Cole v. Commissioner, provided the fifth defense argument. Here, the court ruled that citizens are entitled by right to income or earnings and that right could not be taxed as a privilege.

Finally, Long's legal team pointed to another Tennessee Supreme Court case, Corn v. Fort, in which the court ruled that individuals have a right to combine their activities as partnerships; and that this is a natural right, independent and antecedent of government.

The defense presented additional arguments that the IRS knew no one was liable for the income tax. Other IRS-administered taxes, such as the alcohol tax, are very clearly worded as to who is liable. The IRS' Mission Statement states that the income tax relies on "voluntary compliance."

Long had built a paper trail in his defense before the trial. He had written letters asking the IRS direct questions such as, "Am I required to file federal income tax returns?" and "Am I liable for federal income taxes?" The IRS never directly answered Long's questions, at which point Long stopped filing tax returns.

The jury found Long not guilty on all counts.

The Research Foundation provides information to individuals who want to challenge the IRS. Write to Lamarr Hardy, Executive Director, The Research Foundation, POB 29265, Honolulu, HI 96720.

This was Case Number CR-1-93-91, U.S. v. Lloyd Long, filed in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Tennessee, October 15, 1993. A complete trial transcript originally obtained by Internet volunteers is available.

While I find this an interesting moment in history, I don't recommend trying this at home (or even think it was a good idea). Since this case, many people have tried similar claims -- and sketchier tax evasion schemes -- and found themselves in federal prison.