In an amazing court case involving the "income tax," a Chattanooga jury agreed with the argument by the defendant that the "income tax" is actually an excise tax and only applies to certain classes of people.
Nationally prominent attorney Lowell Becraft of Huntsville, Alabama assisted by attorney Russell J. Leonard of Sewanee, Tennessee defended Lloyd R. Long of Decherd, Tennessee who was charged by the Internal Revenue Service with willful failure to file income tax returns for the years 1989 and 1990.
In presenting the case for the Internal Revenue Service, assistant U. S. Attorney Curtis Collier, assisted by special agent Michael Geasley of the IRS, declared that Mr. Long had gross income in excess of $49,000 for each of the years 1989 and 1990, and that he had "willfully" failed to file income tax returns for those years as "required by the law."
The defense admitted that Mr. Long did in fact have income in excess of $49,000 for each of the years in question and that he did not file a return. He then proceeded to prove to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that he was not "liable" for an income tax, nor was he "required by law" to file.
Defense testimony presented a case titled Brushaber v. Union Pacific Railroad wherein it was the unanimous decision of the U. S. Supreme Court that the Sixteenth Amendment 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. It 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 wherein an excise tax was defined as a tax being laid upon the manufacture, sale, and consumption of commodities within the country upon licenses to pursue certain occupations and upon corporate privileges.
Mr. Long's attorneys also brought out a case entitled Sininis v. Archns wherein the court ruled that the income tax was neither a property tax not a tax upon occupations of common right, but was an excise tax.
The defense then brought out a case entitled Redfield v. Fisher wherein the court ruled that the 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 a couple of studies done by the Congressional Research Service that shows the income tax is an excise.
Next, defense pointed out that in Tennessee Supreme Court case Jack Cole v. Commissioner, the court ruled that citizens are entitled by right to income or earnings and that right could not be taxed as a privilege. And in another Tennessee Supreme Court case, Corn v. Fort, 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 prosecution did not challenge or attempt to refute any of the cases cited or the conclusions of the courts.
Defense brought out in testimony the fact that nowhere in the entire Internal Revenue Code was anyone actually made liable for the income tax. They showed that in the IRS's own privacy act notice only three sections were cited and that none of these sections made anyone liable for the tax. They also proved that this was not an oversight by showing that the alcohol tax was worded so clearly that no one could misinterpret who was made liable for the alcohol tax.
Prosecution did not challenge or attempt to refute this point, nor were they able to show a status that made anyone liable for the income tax.
Defense then presented the mission statement of the Internal Revenue Service stating that the income tax relied upon "voluntary compliance" and a statement from the head of the alcohol and tobacco tax division of the IRS which in essence showed that the income tax is 100% voluntary as opposed to the alcohol tax which is 100% enforced.
The IRS Intimidation Kept Long Paying Income Taxes
Mr. Long stated that in 1988 he knew that the income tax was in fact an excise tax and that he was not enjoying any corporate privileges nor engaged in any privileged occupation, that income or earnings from the exercise of common right could not be taxed an as excise or otherwise, that nowhere in the Internal Revenue Code was he made liable for the tax and that he income tax was voluntary. But Mr. Long was still so intimidated by the IRS that he filed and paid his voluntary assessment.
He then began a series of letters to the IRS explaining that he had no licenses or privileges issued to him by the federal government. He asked for direct answers to simple questions such as "Am I required to file federal income tax returns?" and "Am I liable for federal income taxes?" The IRS never gave a direct answer to any of his questions. Instead they inferred and insinuated and extrapolated and beat around the bush and generally avoided answering. So Mr. Long testified that he decided to stop "volunteering."
The IRS brought in two "expert" witnesses. Both were actually IRS employees who had received training as professional witnesses. Upon cross-examination by Mr. Becraft, one witness, a Ms. Jeu, stated that a secret code known only to the IRS and encoded on Mr. Long's permanent record, showed that the IRS knew that he was not required to mail or file a return. Ms. Jeu made every effort to avoid this admission, to the point that she was beginning to frustrate the jury. The other witness, upon cross-examination by Mr. Becraft, gave testimony that conflicted with the privacy act notice.
The government also attempted to insinuate "guilt by association" in that they claimed Mr. Long had known and relied upon persons of questionable character. They argued that the writers of some of the books he read and people he knew had been convicted of tax related charges in the past and were in fact criminals.
Mr. Long responded that just because a person had been convicted of a crime by a court, this did not invalidate everything he said. To illustrate, he pointed out that the Apostle Paul was a murderer but that by the grace of God he became the greatest of the Apostles. He added that he, Mr. Long, did not rely on anything that he did not personally check out thoroughly.
In summation, Mr. Becraft reminded them that Galileo was imprisoned for holding a belief that conflicted with what everyone else knew as a "fact" and that Columbus, acting on belief which conflicted with what everyone else knew as a "fact" discovered something no one thought existed.
The jury agreed with the defense by finding Mr. Long "Not Guilty" on all counts, they have ventured in an hitherto uncharted territory in their monumental decision.
A Chattanooga TV station quoted a government spokesman as saying that this case will change the way the IRS will handle such cases in the future. They indicated that they (the government) will be less likely to prosecute if a jury isn't going to decide in their favor.
Mr. Long's spirit was best expressed when he was asked for a final statement by a reporter as he was leaving the courtroom. His words: "TO GOD BE THE GLORY!"
Ed.Note: This was Case Number CR-1-03-91. U.S. v. Lloyd Long, filed in US District Court, Eastern district of Tennessee, Oct. 15, 1993.
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