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The Income Tax Is Voluntary For Most People

Vin Suprynowicz

Joseph R. Banister spoke June 12 in Las Vegas; he will speak again July 1 & 2 at the National Press Club in Washington.

Joe Banister graduated from San Jose State University in 1986 with a degree in accounting; he became a Certified Public Accountant in 1991. After several years of auditing and tax work, he decided "bean-counting was boring" and decided to follow several relatives and friends into law enforcement.

"I was sworn in on Nov. 15, 1993 as an IRS special agent," Banister recalls. "I took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution."

No one would have taken Special Agent Banister for a misfit at federal law enforcement training -- he was twice elected president of his training class. After receiving his gun and badge, he quickly rose to become asset forfeiture coordinator for the Central California District of the IRS.

"I knew the IRS was unpopular and no one liked them," Banister smiles wanly. "But I'm a nice guy, and I figured maybe I could put a nicer face on things."

Then, in December of 1996, Mr. Banister recalls listening to a radio show on KSFO Radio in San Francisco, hosted by Geoff Metcalf, whom the agent "had always considered to be a very reputable and honest talk show host who could back up everything he broadcast with facts and evidence."

That day, host Metcalf's guest was Devvy Kidd, a woman "who made some allegations about the federal income tax that astonished me." Ms. Kidd alleged, among other things, "that the federal income tax was voluntary."

Banister sent for the information Ms. Kidd was offering. On his own time, using up vacation days and on his home telephone, Special Agent Banister then used all his skills as a professional investigator to look into the three allegations which he found "the most profound and unbelievable":

1) Due to limitations imposed by the U.S. Constitution, filing of federal income tax returns and payment of federal income tax is voluntary, not mandatory.

2) The 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which precipitated the federal income tax, was never legally ratified.

3) The U.S. government finances its operations from the unconstitutional creation of fiat money, not with revenue from income taxes.

Agent Banister spent 1997 reading books like Edward Griffin's 1994 The Creature from Jeckyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve. He investigated the case of tax protestor Bill Conklin of Denver, Colo. (author of the book Why No One Is Required to File Income Tax Returns And What You Can Do About It), who actually won his court case in the 10th District.

Some of this started to make sense to agent Banister. After all, "One thing I was required to do when I spoke to a suspect, I had to read him the IRS version of their Miranda rights. So I knew about this Fifth Amendment business, because anything you say or put in writing can be used against you."

So how could citizens be required to file tax forms, Banister wondered, submitting information which could be used against them in a court of law?

Banister says he called Bill Benson of South Holland, Ill., author of the book The Law That Never Was. Banister says he was moved by Benson's trust (the author contends not a single state ever ratified the 16th Amendment) when Benson mailed the investigator -- still a badge-carrying IRS agent -- not a copy, but one of two original documents recording the vote of the state Senate of Kentucky against ratification of the tax amendment.

"Yet Philander Knox counted Kentucky as one of the states that did ratify," Banister adds. He was thus unable to dismiss such claims as easily as he had expected to.

The conclusion of Special Agent Banister of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division? "I truly believe the income tax is voluntary for most people. They kept asking, 'Show me the statute that makes you liable,' and I couldn't find it.

"My attorney said, get all your facts and evidence together in one place. ... So I put together a report. I felt, I've got to tell my superiors that after two-and-a-half years of research, I can't refute what these people are saying. I've got to find out what is constitutional and what is not, what is mandatory and what is not. ... I carry a gun and a badge; we put people in prison for failure to file income tax returns."

Agent Banister gave his report to his boss, asking that it be forwarded on through the district chief to IRS Commissioner Rosati. "I need someone to show me where I'm wrong in my analysis," he reports telling his superiors. "If I find the IRS to be deceitful, if they can't show me where I'm wrong, I'll have to resign."

From the routing slip attached to his report when it was returned to him, Agent Banister knows that his report went at least as high as the head of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division in Washington, D.C.

But the only response he received from his superiors "was a memorandum to the effect that 'We will not be responding to your report, and we will supply you with the proper paperwork to submit your resignation.' "

Joe Banister turned in his gun and badge, his bulletproof vest and computer and pager, and said goodbye to the Internal Revenue Service on Feb. 25, 1999, the anniversary of the date when in 1913 U.S. Secretary of State Philander Knox declared the 16th Amendment had been ratified.

Joe Banister says he resigned rather than betray a sacred oath to "tens of millions of good Americans who simply want to know what's theirs and what's the government's, and to see a bright, shining line between the two."

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