IRS fine at asking questions, but not answering them

By Vin Suprynowicz
web posted July 3, 2000

Outfits like the Internal Revenue Service and the United States Dept. of the Treasury routinely insist they're only enforcing the law; they have no choice.

Let a victim of their abuses and usurpations haul them into court and demand that they present the very laws and authorizations under which they claim to be operating, however, and suddenly it's a very different story.

Suddenly the court is informed that all these demands are "moot " and "frivolous"; that the plaintiff has no "standing" or cause to seek relief; that the answers to all his questions are "self-explanatory."

Laws? We don't have to show you no stinking laws.

Case in point: the action of Steven M. Beresford, Ph.D., a British subject now residing as a legal alien in the state of Oregon, whose case against the IRS and Dept. of the Treasury is being recorded in real time on the Internet for anyone who wants to watch the way the federal government conducts and explains itself, at

Mr. Beresford went to court on Feb. 28 of this year, asserting he is a British citizen who has been a legal resident alien in the U.S. since 1987.

He advised the court "Soon after taking residence in the U.S., it came to his (Beresford's) attention that the American income tax system is based upon voluntary compliance. Plaintiff believes that he cannot be legally compelled to obey any law that is voluntary, and that he therefore has no legal obligation to file or pay income taxes."

However, "At the beginning of 1996, plaintiff received a letter from defendant requesting payment of overdue income taxes for 1987, 1988, 1989.

Plaintiff responded by writing to defendant stating that since the income tax system is based on voluntary compliance, he had voluntarily chosen not to comply.

"During the next year or so, plaintiff contacted the IRS offices in Portland and Seattle by telephone and certified mail on numerous occasions asking for an explanation of the term 'voluntary compliance' so that he could determine his legal liability and comply with the law if required to do so. Defendant ignored these requests and issued an involuntary federal tax lien against him ... for the sum of $7,256."

Predictably, by 1999, "The sum of $14,609 was subsequently withheld from the sale of plaintiff's home at 701 N. Winchell St., Portland. ... Finally, on 1/3/00 defendant notified plaintiff that his request for a due process hearing had been denied."

Where does Dr. Beresford get this "voluntary" nonsense?

From the horse's mouth, as it turns out. In his "points and authorities," he cites:

"The tax system is based on voluntary compliance" -- Federal Tax Regulations, Section 601.602.

"Taxpayers in the United States assess their tax liabilities against themselves and pay them voluntarily. This system of assessment and payment is based on the principle of voluntary compliance" -- Internal Revenue Manual, Section 20:123 (July 15, 1996).

"Of course, the Government can collect the tax from a District Court suitor by exercising its power of distraint -- if he does not split his action -- but we cannot believe that compelling resort to this extraordinary measure is either wise or in accord with congressional intent. Our system of taxation is based upon voluntary assessment and payment, not upon distraint" -- U.S. Supreme Court, Flora vs. United States, 362 US 179, 80 S.Ct. 630 (1960).

"Let me point this out now. Your income tax is 100 percent voluntary tax, and your liquor tax is 100 percent enforced tax. Now the situation is as different as day and night. Consequently, your same rules just will not apply" -- Testimony of Dwight E. Avis, Head of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Division of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, before the House Ways and Means Committee on Restructuring the IRS (83rd Congress, 1953).

This, of course, leads to the obvious question: What does the word "voluntary" actually mean? Here, too, Dr. Beresford appears to have done his research, advising the court:

"Neither the Federal Tax Regulations nor the Internal Revenue Code define the term 'voluntary compliance'. Hence plaintiff relies on the definitions of 'voluntary' given in Corpus Juris Secundum (C.J.S. 92: 1029, 1030, 1031):

"The word 'voluntary', which connotes an agreement, implies willingness, volition, and intent. It suggests a freedom of choice and refers to the doing of something which a person is free to do or not to do, as he so decides.

"Although for legal purposes the word 'voluntary' is considered to be so simple and in such general use that it need not be defined, it has been defined variously as meaning acting by choice, acting of one's self, without compulsion, or without being influenced by another; acting with willingness; done by design or intention; purposed; intended; done of his or its own accord; done of or due to one's own accord or free choice; produced by an act of choice; proceeding from the will or from one's own choice or full consent.

" 'Voluntary' is further defined as meaning free; willing; not accidental; spontaneous; proceeding from the free and unrestrained will of the person; proceeding from the spontaneous operation of the party's own mind, free from influence of any extraneous disturbing cause; of one's own will without being moved, influenced, or impelled by others; unconstrained by external interference, influence, or force; unimpelled by another's influence; not compelled, prompted, persuaded, or suggested by another; acting without constraint by extraneous force; without compulsion. ..."

Dr. Beresford then requests of the IRS and Dept. of the Treasury certain documents, which one would think they would have no trouble producing if in fact they are acting according to law and properly delegated powers, as they claim.

Yet, instead of answering substantively this most serious question, U.S. attorney Kristine Olson of Portland, Ore. and U.S. Dept. of Justice Tax Division Trial Attorney Jian H. Grant, of Washington, D.C. -- acting almost as though they have something to hide -- instead ask the court "to dismiss the Complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted."

(Here's a hint, Kristine; Jian -- you could give the guy his money back.)

Then in early June, the government mouthpieces got even more clever, sending a Motion to Stay Discovery (which gets them out of answering any of Dr. Beresford's troubling questions, you understand) to the judge via overnight delivery, while the copy they were required to send to Dr.

Beresford lingered in the snail mail.

"Just like before," Beresford writes to his Internet audience, "since the motion was unopposed, Judge King granted it, meaning that all discovery is halted until the judge rules on the Motion to Dismiss. This is absolutely scurrilous. ... These IRS attorneys are despicable. They are resorting to one piece of trickery after another to avoid answering the questions I have posed them. These are sleazy people determined to evade the truth," whose "trickery shows how desperate they are. My Request for Admissions has evidently touched a raw nerve."

Among the documents Dr. Beresford has demanded?

  • Copies of any and all documents that establish the Internal Revenue Service as an agency of the United States Government other than in the District of Columbia, insular possessions of the United States, and maritime jurisdiction of the United States;
  • Copies of any and all documents that authorize the Internal Revenue Service "to seize property in the State of Oregon other than under authority of 26 U.S.C. No. 7302 & No. 7327 and 26 CFR No. 403. (Do not include authority authorized by 26 U.S.C. No. 7701(a)(12)(B) and other authority relating exclusively to the District of Columbia and/or insular possessions of the United States)"; ...
  • Copies of any and all laws requiring an individual to sign a federal income tax return; ...
  • Copies of any and all delegation orders from the Secretary authorizing the federal tax lien that was filed against plaintiff during the years material to this case;
  • Copies of any and all delegation orders from the Secretary authorizing the notice of levy that was issued against plaintiff during the years material to this case;
  • Copies of any and all court orders authorizing the federal tax lien that was filed against plaintiff during the years material to this case ...

What's the matter Kristine; Jian? Missing a few documents?

Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Review-Journal. His book, "Send in the Waco Killers: Essays on the Freedom Movement, 1993-1998," is available at 1-800-244-2224; or via web site

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