Didn't Someone Just Say: "Dazed and Confused"?
About a month ago, I shared the story of the remarkable redemption of Chet and Valerie West's 2001 tax return. This was a return which had been completed in the 'conventional' way-- which is to say, in ignorance of the law, as the government prefers-- with one exception, which was the addition of the words "Under Duress" to the perjury statement on the form. As is permitted by law, the government refused to accept the return, and began a campaign of harassing the West's over a large alleged tax liability for that year, which the IRS took it upon itself to calculate on the West's behalf.
However, last December, a new element entered the picture. The West's had picked up a copy of 'Cracking the Code- The Fascinating Truth About Taxation In America', and learned what the revenue laws actually say. Armed with this transformational knowledge, Chet and Valerie filed new documents for 2001, declaring themselves to have received no "income", and claiming all withheld money as a refund. The government's response? Suddenly, the original return was declared to be acceptable after all, despite the jurat-nullifying addition! The 'service' proceeded to fuss with the return a bit, in an effort to suggest that this was business as usual. It accepted the West's originally report of $7281 withheld (which was only a portion of what was actually withheld, but remember, this was before the Wests read CtC and gained an understanding of what really qualifies as 'federal income tax withheld'), and recalculated their return slightly, proposing that the $1447 Chet and Valerie had computed as owed to them as a refund be reduced to $295.
This sequence of events was remarkable and well worthy of note all by itself, being a new and, thus far, unique example of the lengths to which the government will go to evade the growing army of Americans who are acting to uphold the law. However, even with the lowest of institutional intentions, the risk of personal liability can rule the day. I don't know for sure that this was the motivator, but there are real people who are responsible for the shenanigans with the West's returns-- and look at what has happened now:
The games are not over, even with this dramatic governmental capitulation. The West's new return had claimed a refund of ALL federal "income" tax withheld, a figure more than double the amount they had originally reported on the form they had first filed. The government has fallen back, but only to a new entrenchment, in hopes of cutting its losses. As in the recently reported case of Jim Spitzer, and a few others, the feds are inviting the Wests to re-embrace at least a part of the common misunderstanding of the law (regarding the true nature of Social Security and Medicare taxes); or at least to forego the effort of pushing the battle to full victory:
Further, the government has taken it upon itself to apply the acknowledged refund to what had been an unchallenged liability for 2002, based on filed information returns about the West's earnings for that year. However, as Chet put it in apprising me of this latest turn of events:
"Hey Pete here is our first victory. The service has conceded we didn't have any income in 2001 and issued a partial refund then funneled it to 2002. But the horse is out of the barn as 2002 is already filed with proper rebuttals in place. I am also including reply letters to their illegal activity in changing my 2001 1040 at all. Keep the Faith, De Oppresso Liber, Chet"
What follows is the notice Chet and Valerie received regarding the diversion of their refund; and their latest response. Enjoy.
I know that many of you reading these words are persisting in denial. You have clung to the rationalization that the continuing series of victories which I share with you-- and the grudging but uncompromised admissions by the government that what I say about the nature, words, and application of the law is true, even while it is attempting to discourage or resist a CtC reader's filings-- are merely a remarkable train of coincidences in a bureaucratized, near-automated system. This has always been a desperate rationalization at best, in light of the fact that from the very beginning, the government's responses have been clearly and inarguably overseen by not only real live people, but real live people whose interest and purpose was to thwart these filings and claims. Chet and Valerie West's story underscores this point firmly. Continued denial is ludicrous and shameful.
This shamefulness is especially so of those blessed with a public voice-- that is to say, those who are of the media, or can command its attention. You who fall into this category have no direct obligation to me, of course, nor to anyone else. But if you speak in the public forum, you are under a general obligation to speak truth; and if you deliberately refrain from speaking of that which you know (or only "don't know" through willful denial), and which is in the public interest, you are guilty of a lie, however subtle of form that lie may be.
Please, all of you, do not persist in your resistance to the truth. Raise your voice, and join your fellow Americans in upholding the law!
Click here to see the West's original return, the government's responses, and the superceding return.
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