Attacking the Taxman

James Farmer and Cliff Williams do their best to irk the IRS

Atlas: I am not sure I understand this. Your position in this lawsuit to the extent that you're fighting the merits of the tax assessment (against you) is that you don't have to pay taxes.

Farmer: Sure I do, Judge.
Atlas: Because you're special. I don't understand.
Farmer: I have to pay taxes if I come within the statute. If I buy or sell guns, I have to pay.

Atlas: We are talking about revenue-code taxes that apply for earned income.
Farmer: As defined in the act as interest off of principal.
Atlas: Okay. I'm sorry I got into this. Let's just move on.

Atlas, who showed more patience during the hearing than most other federal judges might have, also tried to warn Farmer that he shouldn't name as a defendant the towing company that took his car on behalf of the IRS.

"I would like you to think very carefully, carefully, carefully about pursuing that claim against the towing company," she told Farmer, "because if I should find against you, that would be grounds not only for me to assess not only their cost but possibly their attorney fees under Section 1927 for vexatiously pursuing litigation."

Not that it will make much difference. Farmer says he has no plans to drop the towing company from the suit. "My view is that if someone robs a bank, you just don't go after the guy with the gun, you also go after the driver of the getaway car," he says. "The company didn't ask the IRS for any information, whether they had a judgment or a lien against me; they just said, 'You got a badge, that's enough for me to tow it.'"

If Farmer is the low-key half of the tax-fighting duo, obtusely refusing to take broad hints from federal judges, William is the showman. With a preacher's fervor and a talk-radio-ready spiel that includes huge memorized chunks of the Constitution and what he sees as relevant documents, William is a performer who can string together talk of the Social Security System (he calls it the "Socialist Insecurity System"), the founding constitution of Delaware and the military coup that was the real reason behind Abraham Lincoln's assassination.

By the time he gets through with a monologue punctuated by a constant refrain of "You follow me?," a listener will have piled in front of him a dog-eared copy of the law that (putatively, in William's mind) established the income tax; faded photocopies of old case law; a regular dictionary and Black's Legal Dictionary. It all proves, among other things, that "person," as defined in the tax law, does not include most Americans.

He also has, he says, a 120-page brief discussing how Congress cannot "ordain" and "establish" lower federal courts as it has, because of the meaning of those two words. (His listener assures him he'll take his word for it.)

"These issues have been well researched and well thought out," William says. "I base all this not on theory but on fact."

William says he hasn't paid income taxes in years because he has had no income, as he defines it. He says he has signed tax-return forms with the notation "Signed Under Duress" so that he will not have entered into a contract with the government that would allow them to confiscate his property.

Voters take note: William says he'll run for the state Supreme Court soon.
His political involvement began, he says, in 1996 after California passed Proposition187, outlawing affirmative action, "and along comes one female federal judge who says it's unconstitutional."

That marked a turning point. "That's when I realized the vote wasn't working, and the only other alternative was to get directly involved yourself and run for office," he says. "I feel I'm more representative of the average guy on the street, not the status-quo people who are in office now. We have to have laws and a Constitution that makes common sense."

Ask where he got his legal education, and he'll say, "I got a degree through a correspondence school, like they have at Yale, at Harvard, at Princeton, UT, A&M, the University of California. Just about any prominent school on the globe has a correspondence school."

And which one, specifically, granted his degree? "Green Ridge University, in 1991," he answers.

Where's that? "They were in Hawaii and Louisiana, but from what I understand they've merged with another school, so I'm not sure where they are now."

He's looking forward to both his campaign for the Supreme Court and his fight on behalf of Farmer. "The IRS works on FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real," he says. "They try to make it appear that what they say is the law."

He says his willingness to fight "is in the genes.... We know our Founding Fathers were definitely fearful of a strong centralized government, and now we have a system where they can come in and take your home without a warrant. It's maddening. People can't understand it."

Farmer says he relishes the upcoming fight as well, although his wife has asked that her name be taken off of the suit. "She's terrified," he says, of the IRS's power.

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