Fictional story about hackers & the IRS
This is a sample of my novel. The novel is about a computer
attack on the IRS.
The one publisher brave enough to try to publish this book backed off
because of problems with the IRS, So I am trying to make it
available through the net.
Following are the first few chapters. If you are interested in
reading the rest, there is an order form at the end.
Please feel free to copy this sample to as many places as you
I hope you enjoy these chapters,
A NOVEL BY PAUL MAHLER
© Copyright 1991,1992 Paul Mahler
"Exciting from the first page. Sex, adventure, violence . . . .
This book has it all." --Paul's accountant
"This is a book that every taxpayer will want to read . . . and
then have their friends buy it to read." --Paul's mother
"A moving account of the destruction of the enemy of the American
worker. The sex scenes are better than real life."--Paul's wife
None of the characters in this novel are real. Any resemblance to
any person, living or dead, is coincidental.
All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole
or part in any form. For information address Paul Mahler, 1800
Market St. #257, SF, CA 94102.
"He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither
swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their
substance."--The Declaration of Independence
While the characters and events portrayed here are purely
fictional, the events are based on actual case histories, court
cases, and the real day-to-day procedures of the Internal Revenue
Some, who have read this novel, have suggested toning down some of the
events, that they are preposterous or unbelievable.
I only wish that I could still find these events preposterous. In
fact, all the events that follow are all too possible. All the
events described here are based on real people's real problems.
The statistics, the case histories, the events are all real.
Paul Mahler San Francisco, April 15, 1991
Part One--Driving Me Crazy
The last day before Christmas, after work, I found a letter
waiting for me at home. It was an ugly reminder of two thousand
dollars in back taxes I had never paid.
I was on unemployment two years ago and couldn't pay my taxes. I
had to file without paying. I let it slide. The IRS didn't call
me. I didn't call them.
I looked at the letter wondering how much it would add up to.
Taxes, interest, some penalty. I guessed four thousand dollars.
Maybe forty-five hundred dollars.
I opened the letter. The letter said: "We have been unable to
resolve your account (see attachment), and our attempts to reach
you by telephone have not been successful. To eliminate the need
for a personal visit to your residence or place of business, send
payment in full and all delinquent tax due in the enclosed
envelope within seven days from the date of this letter." It was
signed "Chief, Research Group."
The attachment said: "We have previously written you asking for
payment of the Federal tax identified below, but we have no
record of receiving it. The tax is overdue, and the law
authorizes us to seize your property, wages, or other assets to
satisfy your unpaid tax. The total amount due includes interest
and penalty and should be paid immediately to avoid additional
It had to be a mistake.
I called the IRS office on Golden Gate Avenue here in San
Francisco. It took me a week to get them on the phone. It was the
week between Christmas and New Years and the lines were always
busy. When I got through, I got the run-around.
Finally, I got William Lincoln, Revenue Officer, on the phone. I
arranged a time to see him. I ended the conversation by saying,
He said, "You may call me Officer Lincoln."
Revenue Officer Lincoln was corpulent. He had pants that wouldn't
fit over a belly gone to pot and a shining gold tooth that
flashed when he talked. He leaned back in his chair and squinted
at me over a large pock marked nose that had never recovered from
being seventeen years old.
I was scared and said, "I know I owe back taxes. There is no
question that I owe back taxes. But there is, I think, a question
of how much back taxes I owe."
Agent Lincoln said, "Mister Hansen, you apparently owe a
substantial amount of money and have made no effort to pay it. I
am only authorized to collect money. If you feel there is some
error in the computation of the taxes due, you may pay the amount
in full and then file a request that the account be examined. If
some mistake has been made, the extra tax that you pay will be
refunded. Of course, no interest will be paid on the excess
It was like he didn't hear me. "Look, you didn't listen to what I
said. I owe about two thousand for that year. Here is a copy of
my tax return showing I owed about two thousand. Look at the
bottom line: 'Taxes due, eighteen hundred and ninety-five
He said, "Mister Hansen, the IRS will be happy to reopen your
case once you have paid the fifty-eight thousand dollars. If,
after paying, you are dissatisfied, you may file an appeal to
have the file reopened. If we made a mistake, your excess payment
will be refunded."
I was starting to get angry as well as scared. "I have two
problems here. First, it's not clear I owe the IRS fifty thousand
dollars. Second, I would be amazed if I ever have fifty thousand
He still wasn't listening. "Mister. Hansen, do you own a car?"
"Well, yes. I have a Chevy that's about a year-and-a-half old."
"Well, we can take your car and sell it and apply the proceeds to
the outstanding balance on your tax account."
"Wait a minute! We still haven't figured out how much I owe you
guys, and now you are going to take my car away. I don't see how
that makes any sense. I still owe more on the car than it is
"That's not our problem Mister. Hansen. You should discuss that
with the bank."
"How much do you pay in rent?"
I told him, "Seven hundred fifty per month. Why?"
"We can take back your rent from your landlord each month and
apply that money toward your tax bill."
"Wait a minute. I pay my rent. You go to my landlord and tell him
it's really your money and take it. What does the landlord do?"
Officer Lincoln flashed his gold tooth in his first smile of the
day. "Your landlord will probably throw you out."
"So, now that I don't have a job because I can't get to it
without a car, and I can't take showers anymore because I don't
have a place to live because you got me thrown out--how am I
supposed to pay the fifty thousand dollars?"
"Mister. Hansen, you owe us a great deal of money. How you
propose to pay it is not really my problem. It is my
responsibility to take any steps necessary to collect these
taxes. I am authorized to take your car and your rent. I can even
take your entire paycheck every week."
"Now that you get all my paycheck, my car, and my home, I might
as well move to another country."
He didn't even blink.
"Mister. Hansen, we have collection offices in every major city
in any country you are likely to move to. We are happy to
continue this matter in the country of your choice."
This was all I could handle for one day. I told him I needed a
day or two to think about all this and would call him back. I
left the Federal building and wandered into the fog.
Since they put in the underground, Muni has been running antique
streetcars on Market Street in the summer and during the
holidays. I was in no hurry. I had time even if I didn't have
money. I hopped on an old streetcar that must have been salvaged
from the Spanish-American war. I had my head leaning on the glass
watching things spin by and spotted the Libertarian Bookstore. I
got off at the next stop and walked back to the store.
The place was full of pamphlets, posters, books and magazines. I
asked the clerk, "Do you have anything about the IRS?"
He said there was a whole section and asked me what my problem
was. I told him.
He told me, "You know, there is a group of people meeting
tomorrow night. Maybe you should go."
He wrote down the address on the back of a bookmark for me. I
didn't think much about it and stuffed it in my pocket.
I went through the IRS section and bought a few books and
pamphlets. I walked the rest of the way home. My apartment is
just above Castro Street, almost in Noe Valley.
I made myself a sandwich and opened a beer. After the news on TV,
I started reading the books and pamphlets.
One book interviewed an IRS agent. They asked if there would ever
be a tax revolt. He said, "No, because people who don't want to
pay taxes don't have to. People who make enough money, or people
who work in the underground economy, and people or organizations
with special interests don't pay taxes."
The books didn't cheer me up. I consoled myself by thinking
Revenue Officer Lincoln was having a bad day. No one can stay
angry for ever. Tomorrow would be better.
I got up late, hung over. I called the appointment clerk at the
IRS office and made a two o'clock appointment to see Revenue
Officer William ("Don't-Call-Me-Bill") Lincoln.
At two, butterflies were running a track meet in my stomach. I
did some quick breathing then went up to see the man. I hoped he
had a good night's sleep. Maybe his football team won. He was
ugly and unpleasant, but who knows, maybe he got laid last night.
I said, "Good Morning."
He said, "Mister. Hansen, in our meetings you have been
unhelpful. I don't feel that you are co-operating with me."
"Wait-a-minute," I said. "I told you I owed you some money. I
even filed a return, almost on time. I would love to pay you the
money I owe. I would just like to know how much I really owe, and
I don't see how it can possibly be fifty thousand dollars. I
would love to pay what I owe. The sooner the better. You have
been very effective. I am very scared. But I don't have fifty
thousand dollars, even if I did owe you that much, which I
"Mister. Hansen, when you have been a revenue agent for a while,
you start to get a sixth sense for people who are holding out on
you. A sixth sense about people who are trying to cheat on their
taxes, or hide something. I know you are one of those people. I
can feel it. I can tell you are hiding something from me,
I opened my mouth to say something just as Lincoln said, "You
leave me no choice in this matter. I am registering our tax lien
with the county recorder. This will show up on your credit report
immediately. You won't be able to borrow any money from now on. I
am also going to attach your wages--all your wages. We will come
and get your car. Then we will take your rent money back from
It sounded convincing. I didn't see how things could get worse
until he said, "I am convinced you are concealing assets from us
and have probably cheated on your taxes. I am going to request a
full audit of all your tax returns for the last five years. If
the auditors find anything wrong, you could go to jail."
I got mad. "Look, this is bullshit. I owe you maybe four grand
with penalties and interest. You are trying to make me sound like
Al Capone. You won't tell me what I really owe."
I had read in one of the pamphlets that I was entitled to see
speak to a supervisor if I was having a problem with a revenue
"I want to talk to your supervisor."
I hesitated. "I am entitled to talk to your supervisor, please
get him." He left the room for a minute. He came back in smiling
and said, "I have discussed this matter with my supervisor. He
doesn't want to talk to one of my taxpayers."
At least the buck I spent on the pamphlet was tax-deductible
because it wasn't helping me much.
"Well, come and get me, asshole, because there is no way I am
ever going to find fifty thousand dollars!"
He told me, "Call me when you know how you will pay us the money
you owe," and handed me his business card.
I took it and stumbled out of the office. Outside I put the card
in my jacket pocket. When I reached in I felt something else
there. I pulled it out and saw the bookmark from the Libertarian
bookstore. It had the address and time of the meeting. The
meeting was for later the same day.
I left the Federal building and headed for the nearest bar. I
found a cute place on the edge of the Tenderloin. The Tenderloin
is famous for ten-buck hookers, drunks, and great Vietnamese
food. We call it the "wine country." The neighborhood was as
depressed as I was. This is probably where I would wind up after
they took my apartment. A nice gutter in the middle of the wine
After a few beers, I looked at my watch and saw five-thirty. I
fished out the bookmark, and there was the address in the Western
Addition and the time--six o'clock. If I didn't hurry too much I
would get there just at six. I took the bus, then the shoe
leather express, to a flat across from the projects--deep in the
Western Addition. I wouldn't have had the courage to walk around
here without the beers. This wasn't a good place for a skinny
programmer to be without track shoes or a gun.
I rang the bell and got buzzed in through the security gate.
Upstairs at the door I said, "Hi, Joe sent me." The guy at the
door looked me up then down then let me in without saying
The meetings was in the living room of a flat that had seen
better days. The flat was carved out of what had once been a
fancy Victorian house. An old building that had seen its share of
I looked for a seat, saw one in the back, and sat down behind
this really great looking lady. No one would see me next to
anyone that good looking. I would get lost in the rug or the
Someone named Jim Samuelson stood up, introduced himself, and
said this was a meeting of "Citizens for Just Taxation."
"The United States began in a revolt against unfair taxation.
Where have we come to?"
"On average, thirty-four percent of what everyone makes goes to
Federal taxes. Except for the rich who don't pay much. He pointed
out the fifteen per cent of the gross national product went
directly for taxes. Another fifteen percent went to pay for tax
collection. This included paying IRS agents, accountants, CPA's,
attorneys, and the like."
"Over a million people don't pay any taxes at all. They are were
tax dodgers, or conscientious objectors, or didn't want to pay
for guns and bombs."
Samuelson ended the meeting by soliciting donations and pointing
to pamphlets at the back that were for sale. I felt I already had
a corner on the pamphlet market. I didn't donate, I was saving my
money for the IRS.
I was getting ready to fade back out to the street when much to
my surprise the hot-ticket blonde, the one I hid behind, who
looked even better standing up and facing my direction, said
hello. This was a surprise as good looking girls had developed a
blind spot for me in Junior High.
She introduced herself, told me her name was Susan and asked if
she could buy me a drink.
We took her car to a fern bar near the opera house. It was quiet.
The in-crowd had been avoiding it for the last few months since
the big coke bust. I ordered a beer, she asked for white wine.
Susan asked me where I was from, what I did, and how I felt about
all this trouble with the IRS. The beers made me more glib than
usual, and I told her everything.
I got tired, and we called it quits. She offered to drive me
home. I said, "Sure," and we left.
As we pulled up in front of my flat, she asked me for my phone
number. She added, "Maybe we could get together for another drink
I gave her my number, but no one that attractive would ever call
me again. But I would rather fantasize about her than Officer
Susan called and invited me to dinner. No accounting for taste. I
never expected a call. I said yes. Maybe my luck was improving.
Susan lived downtown at the base of Nob Hill, on Bush. I told her
seven and asked what to bring. I said I could bring anything that
didn't have to be caught, cleaned, or cooked. She said to bring
Even though the IRS was after me, I still had to work for a
living. I worked at a printing company. We had just bought the
newest fanciest laser printer to replace our older laser printer.
My job was training it to be useful.
We did high-volume custom printing. We took computer tapes and
printed from them. We did the telephone books for the telephone
company, for example. Telephone books for large multi-nationals
headquartered in San Francisco. Catalogs. Big books that would
My work never got me laid but I liked it. After computers I was
interested in Monday Night Football--and beer. Maybe Susan liked
On the way over, I stopped at a big liquor store. I don't know
much about wine, so I bought something that was red and cost
I rang the bell. She buzzed me in and I trudged up three flights
She was dressed in a shift kind of thing. She had misplaced her
bra somewhere. She looked even better than I remembered.
Susan was five-five, maybe one hundred and fifteen pounds and
blond. I would wait until after dinner. If she could cook I would
propose over dessert.
Well, could she cook. Pasta, salad, and a killer triple chocolate
layer cake from Just Desserts. The wine disappeared, even though
it turned out to be the wrong color. Susan said how much she
liked it. I assumed she was being nice.
Our conversation turned to the IRS. Her father had been in big
trouble. That was why she was at the meeting.
He got a letter like mine. His letter said he owed fourteen
hundred dollars. He didn't think he owed it. He had paid all his
taxes, he had filed on time. So he wrote a letter asking for a
meeting. The IRS never wrote back, just kept sending dunning
He was afraid they would come after his bank account. So he wrote
to the bank and told them not to give the IRS any money without a
The bank said, "Sorry." if the IRS came after his checking
account they were going to give it to them. They had to, it was
the law. Next month, the bank turned fifteen hundred dollars over
to the IRS
Pop was a farmer--stubborn. He thought nobody was guilty until
proven guilty. He figured no one should take his money without a
court order. Acting as his own attorney he filed a suit against
Pop owed half of a farm-equipment loan for a new tractor. Because
the bank took the money out of his account without his
permission, he wrote saying he wouldn't be paying the note
In the first week of July, the court issued an order for the bank
allowing the tractor to be taken.
Susan showed me a news clipping from the Little Forks, Herald. It
said: "Yesterday morning, on the Fourth of July, Deputy Samuel
Dick and Deputy Jim Frost of the Little Forks Sheriff's
department went to Donald Cherry's farm twenty miles south of
town. they took a truck with them planning to take his tractor.
They said he hadn't paid his loan."
"Sheriff Johnson said the deputies arrived at the scene at 11:30
a.m. The deputies claim they met someone at the sight who said
Cherry didn't want the equipment moved. They were told Cherry had
a gun and knew how to use it."
"The deputies hitched the tractor to the truck and started back
to Little Forks. One Sheriff's car was ahead of the truck.
Another was behind it."
"Miller said Cherry's car approached the convoy from behind.
Cherry passed the rear car and the truck. Cherry cut in front of
the truck, forcing it to pull over."
"The deputy in the front car pulled across the road, blocking it.
Cherry had his wife Jane and daughter Susan in the car. he jumped
out and exchanged words with the deputies."
"The deputy in the front car told Cherry, over the loudspeaker,
to get back in his car and leave quietly. Cherry refused. The
deputy than said he was under arrest, that he should raise his
hands and stand quietly."
"Cherry refused the order and got back in the car. He drove
toward the deputy's car which was still blocking the road. The
deputy claimed to see something that looked like a pistol in
Cherry's hand. No pistol was found in the car."
"The deputy ordered Cherry to halt, but he kept driving. The
deputy fired two rounds from his twelve-gauge shotgun into the
Cherry car. Mr. Cherry was taken to the hospital where he died
shortly after arrival. Mrs. Cherry was treated for minor wounds
and released. The daughter was unharmed"
"Cherry had no criminal record."
Susan told me how terrible it was. Her father would have never
fired at a sheriff's deputy even if he had a gun, which he
didn't. He had not been expecting any violence. That's why he
took his wife and daughter.
Susan said her father believed in his country. He couldn't
believe the IRS could take his money without a court trial. He
thought he was a free man living in a free country.
It wasn't over. Susan and her mother were charged with attempted
murder. If they hadn't charged Susan and her mom for a felony,
the deputies couldn't justify the shooting. Susan left rather
than face the charges. She was still on the run.
I didn't know that nobody, a creditor, the federal government,
another citizen, a foreign power, has the right to seize property
without due process of law--except the IRS. The President would
have to declare martial law to get away with something like this.
I didn't know what to say. "That must have been incredible
horrible." She started to cry.I put my arm around shoulder to
comfort her. She cried and cried.
After the crying we talked and talked until the small hours of
the morning. I finally looked at the time and said, "I should go
home, it's late."
Susan said, "Don't go, please, it's so nice having you here."
The next thing I knew, we were kissing. I said, "Gee maybe we
should stop for a while." Susan started unbuttoning my shirt. The
next thing I knew, we were headed to the bedroom.
Susan sat me down on the edge of the bed and said. "Don't go
away." I wasn't going anywhere.
She disappeared. When she came back, she had on even less than
before. She lit some candles, she said they made her feel sexy. I
didn't think she needed help.
She took off all my clothes, slowly. She pulled back the covers
on the bed and pushed me on my back. I tried to grab her, but she
pushed me back on the bed and asked, "Do you like being tied up?"
I didn't know, I had never tried it before.
I was too excited to say no. She reached into the nightstand and
pulled out some ribbons. She tied the ribbons around my wrists,
and my wrists to the headboard. Then she tied my ankles to the
She said, "You've been verrrry naughty. Susan is going to have to
She took out a huge feather and started stroking it up and down
my body. I was going bullshit. I was dying to grab her, and
I couldn't believe how much fun this kinky stuff was. Next she
brought out an ice cube and started working me over with it. This
left me gasping for air.
She was telling me what to do the whole time. I loved it. Then
she started kissing me all over. My lips, neck, down my chest.
Then a blow-job. I don't know why the call it a blow job, she
wasn't doing much blowing.
She grabbed my balls in one hand. She started squeezing. Just as
I came, she broke a vial of something under my nose. I found out
later it was a "popper," amyl nitrate. It was intense. It felt
like a NASA moon-shot.
I had never been tied up before, but I couldn't wait to try it
again. It even made me forget about the IRS for a while.
Susan was up early. She said she had things to do. I didn't know
where she worked. I didn't know if fugitives worked for a living.
I showered and dressed, went out for coffee, then went home.
I wouldn't have believed Susan's story about her dad a few weeks
back. After my own visits with Revenue Agent Lincoln, anything
From that night, Susan and I spent all our free time together. We
had much in common. I liked being tied up. She liked tying me up.
We both disliked the IRS.
Susan was working for a political organization. This explained
the odd hours she worked. She said they knew she was in trouble
with the IRS and the law.
I hadn't seen my accountant yet. I was hoping the IRS would go
away if I ignored them long enough. It was only January
seventeenth, I didn't think anything would happen fast.
I had been spending nights at Susan's. That morning I was
supposed to drive to Sunnyvale to see a client. The client had
custom printing needs and I would have to do some programming for
them. I had to see them to estimate a job.
I was running late to work. I went downstairsand opened the front
door. I didn't see my car.
I figured my car had been towed. It would cost me one hundred and
twenty dollars, to get it back with the fine and the towing. I
remember a friend saying they would take Mastercharge so I could
get it out even though I didn't have the cash.
I hoofed it down to the city towing lot. It was depressing, there
was a long line of people trying to get their cars out of hock.
It took me 45 minutes of standing in line to get up to the bullet
proof window and see the cop-in-a-box.
He said they didn't have my car and asked why didn't I just call
first? He told me they didn't have any record of my car and that
the street I had parked on wasn't a tow-away zone anyway. He
asked me if I would like to file a stolen vehicle report. I told
him no, that I think I knew who had it.
I would have to let my boss know so they could get someone else
to attend the meeting in Sunnyvale. I took the bus to the office.
When I got there, Lois, the receptionist, said the boss had been
looking for me and wanted me to meet him in accounting
On the way to accounting I was trying to think about what to tell
Larry about my missing car. When I got there he was in the
controller's office. He didn't even ask about Sunnyvale.
The controller spoke first. "I received a notice of levy today
form the IRS ordering us to pay all your salary to the IRS. We
are supposed to give them ALL your salary. Christ, what have you
"I tried to go to bat for you. I was called by some guy named
Lincoln. He said you owed them a lot of money. He said I should
give all your pay to them or I could be in a lot of trouble
My boss, Larry, said, "I have talked it over with one of the
vice-presidents here. We don't have any choice, we have to let
you go. We don't know how you could have gotten into this much
trouble with the IRS. What are you going to live on when the IRS
is taking all your pay? How can you do any work for us?"
"You have been a great employee. You have done a great job, we
are all pleased with your work, but we're going to have to let
you go. I'm sorry."
I couldn't believe it. My legs couldn't either. They buckled
under me as I tried to stand up. Larry got me some water, told me
again how sorry he was, and that as soon as I could stand up he
would help me clean out my desk.
There was one small carton of junk in my desk worth taking. I
took it outside and caught the bus. Nobody asked for an
explanation--it was just goodbye.
When I got to my apartment, I found a bright pink notice stapled
to the door. It was a notice of levy from the IRS and said that
everything I owned had been "confiscated by the United States
Government." I took it off the door, folded it up and put it in
my pocket. The door was unlocked. I went inside. Everything was
gone. The place had been picked clean. They had even taken the
beer out of the refrigerator. I found a note taped to the
refrigerator from my landlord asking me to see him as soon as
possible. Something about having to give my rent money to the
I dumped a few papers that were left into my box and left it in
the bedroom. There were a few clothes they didn't take still in
the closet. I left. On the way out I saw that there were letters
in my mailbox. I opened the box and got them out. They looked
like bounce notices from the bank. They were bounce notices from
I use my personal computer to balance my checkbook. I have never
bounced a check. When I opened the envelopes I saw all my checks
were bouncing. I could guess who had the money that used to be in
my checking account.
No car, no job, no apartment, no money. All in one morning.
I did have a dollar, so I took the bus to Susan's. She was home
when I got there. She took me inside put me on the couch and gave
me a beer. I told her about my morning. She said, "Those
bastards. Someone should get those bastards. Don't worry, you can
stay with me."
I was shell-shocked. I spent most of my time sleeping or
drinking. Susan tried her best to cheer me up, but couldn't
I spent that next week feeling sorry for myself. Only Susan kept
me going. I felt uncomfortable that Susan was supporting me. I
had been staying at her place, eating her food, letting her take
me to the movies. She had been so nice to me and I didn't see how
to repay her.
I told her this over breakfast. She was quiet for a bit.
Thinking. She said, "I should introduce you to the people I work
with. They may have a job for you."
I asked her, "Why would they want to hire me?"
She told me, "It's not really a job. We all get some money, but
it's not really a job. I'll tell you more but you have to keep it
I told her, "I won't tell anyone anything. I'm so pissed at the
IRS I don't care if it's illegal."
She told me, "It is."
It was my turn to take a pause. I could tell that knowing what
she was doing could get me into even more trouble. At least up
'till now I hadn't broken any laws. Sure, I was in a bad spot,
but maybe I could still get it fixed.
I told her, "I would like to do whatever you think is best."
She said, "This will work out just fine. Your going to get an
opportunity to fight back."
I was angry, but it came with a wierd sense of freedom. Life had
never held surprises like these. I Went to college because my
folks thought I should; I Studied computer science because my
advisor thought it was a good idea. I Got a job. I Did what
you're supposed to do. I Worked. I paid most of my taxes.
I had a quiet predictable life. A nobody landlord, a mediocre
job, a broken stereo. A car that I didn't own. I told Susan that
I was ready for anything.
Susan went to talk to her friends about me. She came back happy.
She said, "I talked with everyone. They already knew we are
dating. Everyone wants to meet you tonight.
After dinner we went to a house in the Haight-Ashbury. That
neighborhood has changed even though some of the people are still
trapped in a time-warp. The old head shops have been remodeled to
sell coffee beans and imported cheese to yuppies.
The group was nondescript--until they talked. They all had an
axe to grind. We were talking serious tax protestors here. There
were six people, four men and two women, beside Susan and me.
One of the men, Steve, started talking to me. "This group is
dedicated to the elimination of the IRS. We believe that
politicians have ignored the Constitution and sold out American
workers and the middle class.
"Taxes have transformed American workers from free men to slaves.
You think slaves wear leg-irons and are confined and beaten? A
free man owns what he produces and a slave doesn't.
"In the Middle Ages, serfs gave over to their lord twenty-five
percent of everything they produced. In return, they received
protection. How does a serf gving up twenty-five percent differ
from the American worker who gives up thirty-five percent?
"Increasing taxation, driven by Government greed and incompetence
has made slaves out of America's working people. By 1972,
Government expenditures equaled eighty-three-point-five percent
of the total gross product of all U.S. manufacturing, all U.S.
agriculture, all U.S. Mining, all petroleum and natural gas
production, all U.S. communications, and all electrical, gas, and
sanitation services--combined! By 1979, the IRS had over eighty-
seven thousand employees, and spent well over two billion dollars
to collect the equivalent of two thousand and eighty-three
dollars from every person in America.
"Over sixty percent, over one and a quarter billion dollars, of
the revenues the IRS collect are budgeted to enforcing
collection: collection procedures, auditing, investigating, and
prosecuting. This is the harassment and intimidation of American
taxpayers. Even more money is wasted on lawyers, accountants, and
record keeping needed to feed the IRS bureaucracy.
"In order to allow the IRS to enforce the collection of usurious
taxes, politicians have sold our constitutional rights down the
"The IRS extorts people into waiving their constitutional rights.
By demanding a signed return, they force you into perjury."
"The IRS has IRS courts, where most of the judges are ex-IRS
employees. The IRS maintains their own hit list. The IRS has over
three thousand armed agents. They enlist the aid of the FBI and
local police forces as they see fit."
"The IRS collects massive amounts of information on private
citizens. Any other agency would be prohibited from having this
information. The IRS is willing to drive businesses into
bankruptcy to collect taxes. The IRS can take all your property
without due process of law. IRS procedures are designed to
intimidate, harass, and suppress the individual.
"The IRS goes to extraordinary lengths to prevent the taxpayer
from seeking relief or redress outside the agency. They make it
almost impossible for a taxpayer to be judged in a court of law
by his peers. The IRS goes to great lengths to hide their abuses
from the public. It protects itself by ruining the careers of
elected officials who oppose them, destroying files that would
prove IRS misconduct, and scaring the average taxpayer.
"In enforcing the Sixteenth Amendment, the IRS has thrown away
the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eight, Ninth, and Tenth
Amendments to the Constitution.
"The IRS encourages confrontations with tax protestors. The IRS
does not dislike tax protestors; it needs protestors to create
fear in the mind of the average taxpayer. The The IRS encourages
confrontations with the patriotic Americans who struggle against
"Politicians have unleashed a bureaucracy of terror called IRS.
This IRS has grown so powerful that even the politicians who
created the monster are scared of it. No politician dares
investigate it. When a politician is either brave enough, or
foolish enough, to oppose the IRS, the IRS will harass that
politician up to and including the rigging of elections.
"Our organization is dedicated to the destruction of the IRS. We,
like the American patriots who founded a country in rebellion
against oppression and tyranny and excessive taxation, are
fighting this modern tyranny and oppression. Like our ancestors
before us, we are dedicated to the struggle for human rights and
dignity granted to every American by the Constitution. We will
defend this Constitution, with our own blood if need be, where
the politicians are too weak to make a stand."
Other political groups provided our support and funds.
Foundations gave money--like the Americans for Americans
Foundation. Liberals who had supported the anti-war groups of
the late sixties kicked in money, surprising amounts of money We
were even a non-profit, tax-free organization.
The events team was always busy. The regular media wouldn't give
us the time of day. They were afraid of the IRS, too. We weren't
Republican or Democrat or large, so we didn't get media coverage.
We worked with groups that focused on environmental or nuclear
issues. When they held rallies or events, we supported them.
Later, they would support us.
We were well organized. There was even a personal computer. I
fell into working with the computer. I automated the mailing list
for the newsletter and put fund-raising information into a data
I stopped hearing from the IRS. They didn't have a forwarding
address, and I wasn't going to give them one. I owed them money,
so they claimed, but I hadn't done anything yet that was illegal.
When I wasn't working or with Susan, I was at rallies.
I remember my first one. We were protesting foreclosures of farms
in the Midwest. We had been working to gain support for a
noontime rally downtown. There was a terrific amount of work in
organizing permits and speakers and sound equipment and all the
million things needed for a political rally.
More rallies were held over the months, more newsletters sent
out. The day-to-day grind of political activism. When I signed
up, I had thought every day would be an adventure. But, no,
things moved slowly, and no adventure reared its head.
We made a big push at tax time to send out extra editions of the
newsletter. We tried to capture the interest of the popular press
and television. The press and television wouldn't cover us. The
best we could get was a few paragraphs in the "Bay Guardian." We
couldn't even get into the San Francisco Chronicle, even though
just about anything else could. It was frustrating.
Anyone I talked to would listen to my IRS horror stories then
give me a polite brush-off.
"You're kidding. They can't do that."
If I hadn't experienced trouble with the IRS, I wouldn't have
believed Susan's story.
Nobody was interested in the IRS. Everybody was busy trying to
file before the deadline on the fifteenth. The world got through
tax time just as it always did.
Except that I didn't file--I was finally breaking the law.
People just kept on paying, thankful that the system left them as
much as it did.
Withholding taxes makes it easier for people to ignore taxes.
People get used to withholding. They think in terms of what's
left in each paycheck.
There was a factory in the South, years back, that started taking
all of a month's withholding out of one paycheck. This made it
clear just how big the bite was.
This didn't last long, and the IRS made it mandatory that
withholding be taken out of wages as they were earned. A nice
psychological buffer, withholding. Just think how people would
react if at Christmas time the IRS said, "by the way, you owe us
fifteen thousand dollars."
The average taxpayer was complacent. I didn't see what we could
do to blast away that average complacency. Mr. and Ms. Middle
America were still dancing down the yellow brick road to April
There are many tax protestors, perhaps millions. Some people
don't file taxes and stay in the underground economy. Some brave,
foolhardy souls file "Fifth Amendment" returns. These have names
and a statement against paying taxes. Just an unsigned Form 1040
with a note that says signing it would violate Fifth Amendment
rights about self-incrimination. These folks were too loosely
organized to be effective.
Some of what we were doing, like not filing our income tax
returns, was illegal, but we weren't into any of the big stuff.
Nobody was shooting at us, and I didn't feel we were changing the
Several months went quietly by. I was happy. A nice job, a nice
girl, a nice computer. I spent more time outdoors with rallies.
I can remember when it ended. It was my fault.
We were back from a rally at the University of California medical
laboratories. We were there in support of animal rights.
The school board of directors was meeting, and we arranged a
demonstration for them. A show of force by people who didn't have
any force and wouldn't have used it if they did.
It was successful. Ten of the animal rights activists were
arrested for being disorderly in public and had their pictures
taken by the TAC squad. I had been to so many demonstrations that
I was on a first-name basis with the tac squad.
Pro-animal support was far afield, but we owed favors. Someone
had called in a political debt.
There were print reporters and one television crew. It looked
like we might get press on this.
We got back late. Everybody was tired. We decided to have supper
together. Eating always cheered us up. We had home-made pizza--
vegetarian in honor of the day's activities. We had beer, too--my
favorite after-demonstration beverage.
I was digesting the pizza and reading a computer magazine. There
was interesting new stuff. It always amazed mo to see equipment
get smaller, faster, and cheaper. Gear that would have cost
millions a five years back only cost thousands now. The new stuff
does things the old gear would never do.
It was a Tuesday night, and no interesting sports were on the
tube. Everyone was lounging around waiting for the peppers on the
pizza to wear off. A spontaneous meeting sent Steve into one of
his eloquent tirades against the IRS.
Everyone went on and on. I listened then dozed off into day
dreams. I was thinking about what I would do to the IRS if I had
the bucks. I had an idea. Patently simple. I batted it around
inside my head for a while. Held it up to the light, looked
underneath it. The more I thought about it the more it seemed
like a good idea.
I got out note paper and, while everyone else was talking,
started writing. The more I thought about my plan, the better it
looked. I starting outlining what would be needed: people,
machinery, supplies. Then I put times on everything and figured
what equipment and supplies would cost. It seemed like a
wonderful idea until I added up the numbers.
Nine to ten months and a bunch of money. I already knew that the
IRS had all the money. We kept getting enough to eke by, but this
involved serious bucks.
I grew depressed again. My idea seemed like an adolescent
fantasy. I started thinking what an edge in material and
resources the IRS had over us.
Only a couple of us were still sitting around talking. Finally,
someone said, "We need stop the IRS. We need to stop the
I responded, "You know, It's just a shame we can't do anything
The guy snarled. "Oh Yeah? So what makes you so smart, asshole.
What would Mr. Programmer do?"
I said, "Look, busting the IRS would be duck soup. I could stop
them dead in their tracks. The trouble is it would be expensive."
Steve said, "What's expensive?"
I looked down at my scribbles and said, "About two hundred
Steve got up, walked over to me, looked me straight in the eye
and said, "I can probably get two hundred thousand dollars."
This is when my life stopped being easy I was about to make my
first run-in with the IRS look like friendship day at a gay
I told everyone my plan. They tried to poke holes in it, but the
more they listened, the more they liked it. Like all good plans--
and even if I say so myself, it was good--this plan was simple.
It was easy to the point of foolproof. You just had to have the
right idea, the right people, the right funding, and the right
equipment all at the right time. All of which we could get.
Except the money, maybe.
I had to spend a lot of time explaining the equipment I would
use, how it would work, where you could get it. My idea was a
technology trip. This required serious explaining to the troops.
Most of these people couldn't tell a computer from a toaster.
Susan, for example, had trouble getting Mr. Coffee to come on at
the right time in the morning.
It looked as if we could fuck the IRS if we could get the money.
Steve said he would check about the money first thing in the
morning. I thought two hundred thousand dollars, or more, was big
money. I didn't see anyone giving it to a group like us. If we
were the Republican Party, two hundred thousand dollars wouldn't
be a big deal, but who would give it to us?
We went home for the night. When we got back home, she was
excited and a bit drunk. She loved my plan. We had more to drink
and headed for the bedroom. One thing lead to another, and before
I could say, "Blow up the IRS," I was tied to the bed frame.
Susan said, "You have been verrry, verrry, bad and I have
something special for you." She was talking with long r's again
so I knew I was in for a big treat. I won't tell you everything
she did, I'm far too shy, but just let me say it was great.
Does our hero live or die? Does the IRS win or loose? Will
there be an IRS when our hero is done with his scheme? What is our
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