Paul L. Caron

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Austin Pilot Had a Valid Tax Beef About § 1706

Following up on my recent posts (links below) on the substance of the Austin pilot's tax complaint against the IRS:

Congressional Research Service, Independent Contractors: Repeal of Section 1706 of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 for Technical Service Workers: S.1924 (Report 98-481) (May 19, 1998):

In 1978, Congress provided statutory relief by enacting section 530 of the Revenue Act of 1978 (P.L. 95-600). Section 530 did three things: (1) It terminated any retroactive employment tax liability for employers who had treated workers as independent contractors before January 1, 1980, unless there was no reasonable basis for not treating the worker as an employee. (2) It spelled out reasonable bases for classifying a worker as an independent contractor, requiring consistent treatment of the worker and similarly situated workers as independent contractors, and reliance on judicial or administrative precedent, past IRS audit, or longstanding industry practice. (3) It prohibited the IRS from issuing regulations or revenue rulings addressing the status of workers as employees or independent contractors for employment tax purposes. Originally, section 530 was intended to be temporary legislation to retain the status quo while Congress took time to figure out what the correct solution should be. ...

In section 1706 of the Tax Reform Act of 1986 (P.L. 99-514), which originated as a Senate floor amendment, a subsection (d) was added to section 530 of the Revenue Act of 1978. The provision barred technical service placement firms from claiming the protections of the section 530 safe harbors. This meant that placement firms could rely only on the common law as a defense for their classification of the workers, and it meant that the IRS was not prohibited from issuing regulations or rulings relating to the employment status of technical service workers in three-party situations.

Empowered by section 1706, the IRS promptly issued Revenue Ruling 87-41, 1987-1 CB 296. The ruling spelled out the types of arrangements where the IRS would treat a placement firm as the employer of technical service employees. Basically, if the placement firm retained the right to control the worker, either by supervising performance or hours worked or guaranteeing the quality of the work of the worker to the client, then the relationship was an employer-employee relationship. If the placement firm simply acted as a broker with no guarantees about performance of the worker and no supervision of the worker's hours or relationship to the client, then the worker was an independent contractor and the firm was not the worker's employer. Although there was dissatisfaction with the Revenue Ruling on the part of workers and firms who could not arrange for their desired employment classification, the ruling had the advantage of providing clear standards for technical service workers in three-party situations.

New York Times op-ed, Our Low-Tech Tax Code, by Harvey J. Shulman (Tax Lawyer, Washington, D.C.):

Nothing can excuse the murderous intentional plane crash into the IRS office in Austin, Tex., on Thursday. The rambling, profanity-filled suicide note that the pilot, Andrew Joseph Stack III, posted on the Web is an indication of his unbalanced state and the senselessness of the act.

In the days since the crash, people pondering Mr. Stack’s unforgivable act have been surprised to find a reference in his note to an obscure federal tax law, Section 1706 of the 1986 tax act. Mr. Stack, a technology worker, claimed that the provision essentially declared him a “criminal and non-citizen slave” and ruined his career.

The story of Section 1706 is a curious one. Most American workers perform jobs as either employees or “self-employed” workers of a company — that is, independent contractors. Yet the common-law test used by the IRS to determine who is an actual employee is vague and unpredictable. The determination is often made years after a worker is hired, during an audit of the company.

If the IRS determines that a self-employed worker should have been an employee, it imposes substantial back taxes, penalties and interest on the hiring company — even if the self-employed worker fully paid his taxes.

That hazy situation led Congress in 1978 to adopt an alternative test — the so-called “safe haven” rule codified under Section 530. Under this rule, if a company has a “reasonable basis” to treat a worker as self-employed, has filed IRS Form 1099 to report its payment to the worker, and has consistently treated similar workers the same way, then the company would not be required to pay more taxes or withhold taxes from the worker’s paychecks.

Basically, the safe-haven rule provided commonsense relief from potentially devastating IRS audits to companies that operated reasonably, consistently and in good faith.

The technology industry used many self-employed workers in the 1980s. While in other industries, workers were forced to become self-employed by companies looking to avoid giving out benefits, in technology it was the professionals themselves who demanded contractor status. They were willing to forgo employer-provided benefits to maintain their independence and expand their businesses.

Many of them were not hired by the technology company they did work for, but by staffing firms that placed them at corporations as subcontractors. In passing Section 1706 in 1986, Congress singled out the programmers, engineers, analysts and many other technical workers by mandating that staffing firms no longer be protected by Section 530’s safe haven. Soon enough, the IRS began auditing staffing firms around the country, often subjecting their customers to questioning as well.

This caused an upheaval in the technology industry. Hundreds of high-tech firms, from Wall Street to Silicon Valley, stopped using self-employed workers. Tens of thousands of technology professionals who had formed their own one-person consulting businesses could no longer find work — unless they agreed to abandon their enterprises and become payroll employees. ...

The rationale for passing Section 1706 was that it would recoup tax revenue that the government was losing from self-employed technology workers who were allegedly cheating when they filed. It was also claimed that few of these workers would qualify as self-employed under the common-law test, so the safe haven should be eliminated for them.

Over the past 20 years, there have been several studies dismissing the factual and legal grounds asserted for the rule, and more than 60 senators — from Daniel Patrick Moynihan to Jesse Helms to Ted Kennedy — have sought its repeal.

A Treasury Department study in 1991 also thoroughly undermined the justifications for the law. It found that tax compliance for technology professionals was actually among the highest of all self-employed workers and that Section 1706 probably raised no additional tax revenue and perhaps even resulted in losses, because self-employed workers did not enjoy as many tax-free benefits as employees.

Section 1706 is an example of how Congress enacted a discriminatory law that hurt thousands of technology consultants, their staffing firms and customers. And despite strong bipartisan efforts and unbiased studies supporting that law’s repeal, it remains on the books.

Reform has gotten lost among the “bigger issues” like capital gains and estate tax reform, and the contractors and firms involved are not big-name, big-dollar political contributors. But they are the information workers who maintain America’s innovation advantage in the global economy. Is continuing to limit their opportunities really something Congress should tolerate?

(Hat Tip: Calvin Johnson.)  See also The Tax Lawyer's Blog, Tax Bomber Stack Wanted Independent Contractor Status to Avoid Paying Taxes.  Prior TaxProf Blog posts:

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TO: Shannon
RE: John Brown & Joe Stack

These self-appointed, self-agrandizing "revolutionary" never produce any good. -- Shannon

You're missing the point. Indeed, you're obtuse missing of the primary point reinforced that point. That being that there are strong parallels between the two. And, despite his despicable act, John Brown WAS right in his gallows address, "I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land can never be purged away but with blood."

And he was right. The the butcher's bill of 600K+ American lives.


[May you live in interesting times. -- Ancient Chinese Curse]

Posted by: Chuck Pelto | Feb 23, 2010 5:57:16 AM

"As an ex-IRS Revenue Officer, Stack's rant revealed..."

Stack's rant used to be an IRS revenue officer?

(Sorry, I find it very hard to resist nerdy misplaced-modifier jokes.)

Posted by: Chris | Feb 22, 2010 8:42:53 PM

Hawk, defending the IRS: "My wife had a significant tax case against her that was recently resolved after five years, and the IRS couldn't have been more accommodating and helpful."

This case dragged on for five (1,2,3,4,5) years (!). Given that "the IRS couldn't have been more accommodating and helpful," I find it difficult not to conclude, based on your own testimony, that your wife is quite the piece of work.

Posted by: Bob | Feb 22, 2010 8:07:06 PM

I read Mr Stack's letter and it wasn't rambling at all. It was detailed and made a lot of sense. I was a contract software engineer in the 80's. 1706 immediately cut my income by one third.

As far as repealing 1706 now, it's a little late. The IT industry is completely different now with the flood of L1 and H1b visas and offshoring.

Being a software engineer in the US used to be a great job, now, largely due to the Federal gov, it's one of the worse.

Posted by: j r | Feb 22, 2010 7:57:14 PM

@Shannon Love "These self-appointed, self-agrandizing "revolutionary" never produce any good."

Yeah like Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Ben Franklin, Sam Adams, these guys never did any good...

Posted by: woody188 | Feb 22, 2010 7:48:13 PM

Just to keep the record straight:

It was not the only fire Stack apparently started. At about 8 a.m., the Austin Fire Department received a call from neighbors on Dapplegrey Lane, a quiet street about six miles north of the office park. A home there was completely engulfed in flames, according to neighbors. The home belonged to Joseph Andrew Stack III, a software engineer. "I heard a humongous boom," neighbor Dane Vick told the Austin American-Statesman, adding that he saw glass being blown out of the home as he called 911. Neighbors managed to pull Stack's wife Sheryl and his 12-year-old stepdaughter from the home after Stack allegedly set it on fire. Neighbors told local news that Stack's wife and her daughter had left the home Wednesday evening after Stack became angry, staying overnight in a hotel and returning this morning.,8599,1966476,00.html

There are more stories like this from numerous organizations.

Stark is not a hero. He tried to kill for personal vengeance and then wrapped it up in a political justification.

Don't set back the cause of IRS/Tax-reform by endorsing his actions, no matter how tangentally.

Posted by: Shannon Love | Feb 22, 2010 6:23:45 PM

John Brown was just like Stark, a self-aggrandizing sociopath. Everything he did was for his own fame and everything he did backfired on the cause he claimed to support.

His seizure of Harper's ferry had two negative effects:(1) It radicalized the South effectively closing off a political solution and (2) he set off the active armament of the South. Had it not been for Brown the South would have entered the war with only about half of the arms it actually did.

These self-appointed, self-agrandizing "revolutionary" never produce any good.

Posted by: Shannon Love | Feb 22, 2010 6:19:47 PM

S 1706 or no, what pisses me off to no end is that I paid ~$20,000 in Fed Taxes last year.
The US Govt. in the throes of absolute imperial corruption spends that much for 50 gallons of gasoline for the army in Afghanistan (to the great enrichment of the contract cronies).
Sickening waste! That could have a substantial portion of an honest teacher or nurses pay, or someone's retirement or disability, but no.. they'd rather let the jet set steal it while we chase the boogeyman and play international resource war.
Why get stuck on the details of the impossibly sticky and corrupt tax code, when the way they spend the money in Washington is the real crime?

Posted by: m.cheney | Feb 22, 2010 6:10:38 PM

President Obama's tax returns for 2007 and 2008 were not prepared in accordance with the Internal Revenue Code. That is not to say that the returns were not prepared in accordance with IRS forms and instructions. Anyone care to state the difference between what was owed on President Obama's 2007 and 2008 tax returns based on the IRC and what was paid based on IRS instructions?

Now based on your answer, what is your estimate of the across the board tax overpayment or underpayment (all taxpayers and all related issues) that results from the deficiency in the IRS instructions that you observed?

BTW Shannon, the man's name was Stack not Stark.

Posted by: WD Kebschull | Feb 22, 2010 5:23:47 PM

TO: DMA, Shannon, et al.
RE: Heh

when a person feels compelled to kill himself (and 2 others), society should be asking "why?" and should also listen to the answer. This won't be an isolated incident. -- DMA

What's that saying.....

Nothing is accomplished until someone is ready to kill someone in order to see it done.

RE: History Repeating Itself?

I recall that a guy named John Brown made an illegal attack on the United States government some time back. Some place called Harper's Ferry. He 'was made as hell and not going to take it anymore' over another government-sponsored activity. He, like Stack and McVeigh, chose the wrong technique for addressing the problem.

Unfortunately for US it didn't have the intended result: the end of slavery. Therefore, five years later, the matter came to a very serious head and as a result 600K+ lives were lost in the Civil War. THAT resolved the matter.

Let us pray it doesn't have to go that far with what is going on in government today.

Am I advocating open rebellion? Hell no. Rather, I'm warning that history tends to repeat itself. And Joe Stack has some interesting parallels with John Brown. And, as DMA pointed out, this is probably not going to be an isolated incident. After all, there's that case of the guy who bull-dozed his house rather than give it up to a bank-IRS effort to seize it. And that reported the day after the Stack-attack.


[A little rebellion, every now and then, is a good thing. -- President Thomas Jefferson (D-VA)]

Posted by: Chuck Pelto | Feb 22, 2010 4:10:04 PM

BTW, do we know for a fact that Stark thought his family was in the house? They had moved into a motel and he may have never intended to burn them in the home... only destroy it. Stupid and vile act either way but more understandable if he wanted to prevent it being seized for instance.

Posted by: Roland the Headless Accountant | Feb 22, 2010 3:59:01 PM

I've had my own problems with the IRS, and it's perfectly reasonable to resent bureaucrats who combine incompetence with hubris. I also had a problem with another organization that was bad enough that I contemplated violence, though not suicide. I never even moved to the planning stage, however, because I could not think of any way to punish the guilty while not accidentally punishing the innocent. One can rail at the IRS all day long but still must realize that there are plenty of decent folks who work for the IRS, even if you could only count the computer repairmen and security guards; however you can count more than that. I know personally several people who were astonished and pleased by kind, courteous and solicitous IRS agents. As usual, all generalizations are partly false no matter how true 'in general.'

David Rogers above makes a most excellent point--no criminal sees himself as the bad guy. There's always a justification, no matter how tortured the logic. In addition, the current idea that nobody can understand anything they haven't personally experienced is bushwah. I have no trouble understanding the 9/11 terrorists, or this Stack terrorist, or the Unabomber etc. I understand; I just disagree and condemn both the feeling and the logic behind the act. "To understand all is to forgive all" is crapola of the worst sort. I am perfectly aware that many Nazis were kind to their own children and there were once heroes who might've jumped in a river to drag out a drowning child who went on to become Gulag guards. People are a mixture of good and evil, and even those who have done terrible evils still have those seeds of good in them, and will likely have people who like and love them despite it all.

I fear that habit is as good an explanation as anything for Stack's actions, not to mention Osama bin Laden's. Once you get set on a pattern of thought and repeat it over and over it's actually painful to break out of it--it's extremely hard to do it, ask any smoker you like. Once you've run over the same paths over and over so that the neurons go twice as fast through the limestone-smooth grooves you've plowed into your mind, your pet hate becomes more real than reality. Science hasn't demonstrated it yet, but I reckon soon enough that we'll learn that you really can drive yourself insane if you try hard enough.

Stack was obviously reasonably intelligent, and that holds its own trap. It's painful to be smarter than average and yet be passed over for some doofus who can't string two words together without a grammar checker, and can't make a decision about wiping his...nose...without an interdepartmental meeting, but who did play JV tennis in high school and therefore is a 'team player.' It's easy to get into a resentful mindset, to see insults where none are intended, to in short become paranoid and despairing. Which adds yet another dimension to your mental deterioration.

The long and the short is, Stack started fouling up years ago by entertaining and then embracing his resentments--until he finally managed to justify his terrorist act. HE is altogether to blame for his own and Vernon Hunter's deaths. Who he picked for his pet hate is irrelevant.

Posted by: Jim Wilson | Feb 22, 2010 3:43:29 PM

Shannon Love is not factually correct.

Stack's wife and child were not in the house when he set it on fire. They were in a hotel and he almost certainly knew that, as has been reported everywhere. He specifically did not try to kill them.

Posted by: someguy | Feb 22, 2010 3:03:40 PM

I agree with everything Shannon said. Very reasoned and logical. How does his daughter calling him a hero have any merit as to whether his actions were justified or not? It is reasonable to assume that she shares the anti-government views of her own father. That might be why she lives in Norway.

For DMA, it seems odd that if you had the benefit of your mother being an IRS auditor and your being "always VERY careful to do everything as correct as possible" that you would have had such an extreme dispute with them. My wife had a significant tax case against her that was recently resolved after five years, and the IRS couldn't have been more accommodating and helpful. The fact that you have a beef with them doesn't justify in any way what this crackpot did. And society doesn't give a crap what his reasons were, he killed an innocent person. Period. He lost any ounce of sympathy because of his actions. Oh, and 50% of the people you know may have had an IRS dispute, but I bet you 100% of them didn't kill anyone to make a point.

Posted by: da Hawk | Feb 22, 2010 2:59:54 PM

I thought Joe Stack's best point was that it is tyrannical to force people to sign documents they can't (and have no hope of) understanding.

No one understands the tax code, the IRS makes mistakes routinely. Put two different IRS officers on the same audit, and you'll get two very different results, because the system is complex and opaque beyond human comprehension.

Posted by: Benjamin | Feb 22, 2010 2:58:34 PM

An earlier comment on TaxProf made me recognize the Marxist angle of Stack's argument.

Sec 1706 resulted in many employers defensively requiring that independent contractors join "contract houses."

Aside from the taxman's take, in exchange for the protection offered the capitalist, those contract houses took an additional chunk of -- here's the Marxist angle -- "surplus value" from the worker.

As Instapundit points out, outside of those on the establishment left trying to exploit this as fodder against the TeaParties, many on the Left see Stack's argument. I can see why.

For a laugh, wouldn't it be great for the hard left to find common ground with the TeaPartiers to the dismay of the liberal establishment?

Posted by: edh | Feb 22, 2010 2:47:37 PM


Hey Shannon--what a bunch of propaganda YOU are promoting. Stack's daughter called him a "hero"

That was the daughter from his first marriage and she has restracted that statement.

He attempted to murder his second ex-wife and her 12 year old daughter by another marriage. Stark's marriage to that woman had just failed and she got the house so he set fire/fire-bomb off while the two of them were inside asleep.

Stark is no way unique. There are dozens if not hundreds of cases just like this every year and the psychological profile is always exactly the same. These people make of habit of failing obligations and irresponsibility. People like Stark leave a trail of broken relationships, fraudulent businesses and lawsuit in their wake. They eventually lash out violently at the individual or institution that finally brings them to account. They always have a sob story because that's how they see themselves: hapless victims of fate who are never responsible for anything bad that happens to them.

Get your facts straight. This was an evil, self-absorbed man who struck at the individuals, even a child, who he believed had wronged him...

... and you my friend are his dupe.

Posted by: Shannon Love | Feb 22, 2010 2:26:24 PM

1. There is no way that the "flat tax" would have any impact whatsoever on the issue. In fact, the issue is a good example of how a "flat tax" does not address 99.99% of the complexity in the tax law.

2. One can wonder why someone angry about a law enacted by Congress would take it out on the IRS. See "Taxes and Anger," for a discussion of how Stack, like most Americans, has been duped by the Congress into thinking the IRS is responsible for what Congress has done with the tax law.

Posted by: Jim Maule | Feb 22, 2010 1:44:15 PM

Hey Shannon--what a bunch of propaganda YOU are promoting. Stack's daughter called him a "hero"

when a person feels compelled to kill himself (and 2 others), society should be asking "why?" and should also listen to the answer. This won't be an isolated incident.
About 50% of the people I know in the US have had an issue with the IRS. My personal issue took over 10 years to resolve and was 100% IRS' fault. They stole YEARS of my life with their rudeness, arrogance and refusal to pay attention to their own rules. I lived with over $100,000 of "taxes owed" for that entire time. They seized everything they could get their hands on. The IRS tried to ruin my life. But, instead, they taught me to NOT value money and materialistic things. Oh--and BTW, my mother was an IRS auditor through out most of my life. I was always VERY careful to do everything as correct as possible--I had a healthy amount of fear of the IRS. Even she was disgusted by the IRS' actions in my case.

Posted by: DMA | Feb 22, 2010 1:34:40 PM

As someone who's been on the wrong side of the IRS, there is no doubt that IRS collection agents can be a$$holes. I owned a small business that didn't make its payroll taxes (my fault); I came forward voluntarily and was on a repayment plan, having paid off more than half the debt, when my collection agent called my landlord and told them she was thinking about seizing my business. Guess who had his lease cancelled? That IRS agent put me out of business, resulting in my losing all of my cap investment in the business infrastructure/leasehold improvements (several hundred thousand $$). Guess what? The IRS was only able to collect about half of the remaining debt (the personally-liable part). The IRS agent not only screwed me, she screwed the government! Yes, what Stack did is wrong, and no, murder is not the answer... but I understand. The IRS agent's comment to me was that she was doing me a favor by shutting me down. That 'favor' cost me my life's savings, and it took me several years after I lost the business to repay the debt since I no longer had the tremendous cash flow. Only in the past year or two have I been able to start saving again... just in time to have a cushion in the bank when I was laid off! Thankfully I've found employment and am doing okay.

Re the ex-agent's comment above, many people do believe that McVeigh had a legitimate beef about how the ATF murdered people whose alleged crime was the nonpayment of a $200 tax. Most of us don't believe, again, that murder is the answer. By the same token, we don't have a problem with shooting back. The ATF agents who got shot the day the Davidian compound was assaulted, who came in shooting and who refused the Davidian's offer of surrender, deserved what they got. I understand that ATF has a hard job and often deals with scum (just like the IRS), but that is no excuse for treating everyone like scum. If the IRS had come into my home shooting I probably would have shot back too, and would probably have been killed. But if they're going to kill you anyway....

Posted by: IRS_Sux | Feb 22, 2010 1:13:20 PM

Just a point: Stark's rant wasn't intended to accurately describe his reasons for acting.

It was intended to create a story in which Stark was not a vicious, self-centered killer but rather a heroic everyman pushed to edge by a cruel government and to disguise Stark's life long utterly self-centered and sociopathic behavior. Therefore, it shouldn't be surprising that Stark picked real issues that resonate with sane people. His rant has something in it for everyone because he wanted everyone to feel sorry for him and believe he acted with some justification.

Don't fall for it. Don't forget that Stark didn't begin his attempted mass murder at the IRS. He began by trying to burn alive his ex-wife and her 12 year old daughter. Then he targeted the specific IRS office and the specific individuals who'd handled his case.

Why try to kill a child if you're really upset at the government? Why target low level drones at the IRS if your mad at the politicians who made the tax law? For that matter, why target a small satellite office when the IRS has large office complex on the South side of Austin?

No, Stark acted purely from a desire for personal vengeance. He struck at the people he knew personally whom he believed had individually wronged him. His rant is just window dressing because his enormous ego wouldn't t let himself go down in history as just another selfishly motivated spree killer. He wanted to be somebody that made a grand statement in the good fight.

It's sad to see that to some extent he has succeeded.

Posted by: Shannon Love | Feb 22, 2010 1:08:03 PM

I understand that Mr. Terranova (New Earth?) is emotionally disturbed by the criminal attack on his former co-workers.

Certainly, Stack's criminal attack is abhorent.

But his repellant actions have no bearing whatsoever on the logic or lack thereof of his complaints.

Those elements must be independently analyzed. Failure to engage the the rational mind will inevitably lead to foolish mistakes.

Posted by: David Rogers | Feb 22, 2010 12:55:17 PM


Methinks you doth protest too much. The IRS and the tax code hurt people badly, daily. SS 1706 is just one example of dozens, even hundreds of provisions that punish people. The fact that he went off the deep end and committed a crime doesn't lessen the validity of his complaint. Using the one to tarnish the other just weakens the pro-IRS argument.

Posted by: Ed | Feb 22, 2010 12:54:19 PM

Actually, I've never heard anyone say that the Branch Davidian compound was handled correctly. Other than Elian Gonzalez, it was the ugliest blot on Janet Reno's blot-filled career.

George Clooney and Russell Crowe are raging jerks, but it doesn't stop me from loving their movies. Cultivate the ability to separate the man from the argument and you'll live a happier life.

Posted by: Jonathan | Feb 22, 2010 12:47:03 PM

I'd say he might have had a legitimate beef about 1706, but he alluded to a prior incident in his "manifesto" about trying to abuse the tax-free status of religious denominations to avoid paying taxes at all. I'd really like to see somebody dig into the details on that one--I suspect it would reveal a lot about him and his way of thinking.

Posted by: Big D | Feb 22, 2010 12:46:42 PM

I was one of those affected by companies abusing the independent contractor provisions of the tax law oddly enough mostly in 1986 itself. I am one of those who fully supported the concept around 1706, but only because companies were abusing the safe haven provisions to an extreme. Section 1706 may have hurt thousands of employees and contractors, but it helped magnitudes more enjoy the benefits owed them as employees. (Among other things, we were not longer forced to work insane hours under threat of losing our jobs. Moreover, in the vast majority of situations, there wasn't a sliver of difference in work expected/performed between employees and contractors and given the ease of getting rid of contractors, the abuse was getting out-of-control.)

Posted by: Joe | Feb 22, 2010 12:42:31 PM

TO: Pete Terranova
RE: Gee....

As an ex-IRS Revenue Officer, Stack's rant revealed signs that he was likely an illegal tax protester. -- Pete Terranova

....what was your first clue?

Mine was the smoldering crash site.

Then I read his 'profanity-laced' closing comments. And as I read them, I realized he had a point.

The IRS has become an onerous burden and a waste of national treasure and productivity in tying up hundreds of thousands of people in careers that are nothing more than legalized tax evasion and back-biting.

A simple flat-tax system would move more productivity into different fields.

RE: Branch Davidians & McVeigh

McVeigh had a beef. And a legitimate one against the US government's massacre of the Davidians. And it WAS a government-exercised massacre of men, women and children. Not unlike the Ludlow massacre in Colorado (see the Colorado Coalfield War) in the early 1900s.

But McVeigh, like Stack, chose the wrong technique for addressing the wrong. After all, as it is 'written', "'Vengeance is Mine', says the Lord."


[There is always death and taxes; however death doesn't get worse every year.]

Posted by: Chuck Pelto | Feb 22, 2010 12:39:08 PM

"I doubt anyone would have said that Timothy McVeigh had a legitimate beef about the mis-handling of the Branch Davidian Compound; I don't know why anyone would say Stack had a legitimate beef about 1706."

Because every working American has been screwed by the IRS at one point or another. We never forget when some halfwit IRS flunky who couldn't find a job in the private sector demands back taxes, interest and penalties for his idiotic interpretation of the code over an actual tax lawyer's, then dares us to fight at double the cost in time and money of just paying them off to go away. Even if--as it was in my case--it was just a couple hundred dollars. What we remember is the feeling of anger and powerlessness in dealing with an incompetent, but powerful, bureaucracy.

As long as IRS continues to hire the idiots and rejects (and it always will), people will hate the IRS. That's why this guy's insanity gets traction.

p.s. Nothing in that loony's rant said anything about tax protesting. You read that in, because you just can't admit to yourself that you made a living screwing honest, hard-working Americans on a daily basis. You tell yourself they were all cheats to make it feel better. Whatever works.

Posted by: Some Guy | Feb 22, 2010 12:37:08 PM

Pete, you poor thing... do you still have a soul?

Posted by: joshlbetts | Feb 22, 2010 12:34:59 PM

Well, then, let me be the first to say it:

Timothy McVeigh had a legitimate beef about the mis-handling of the Branch Davidian Compound.

That surely doesn't excuse McVeigh's actions. Horrible people can still be correct sometimes - I don't have to disagree with everything they say.

Posted by: Michael Chaney | Feb 22, 2010 12:02:13 PM

As an ex-IRS Revenue Officer, Stack's rant revealed signs that he was likely an illegal tax protester. Stack may have been a software engineer subject to 1706 rules, but he didn't want to pay less tax; he didn't want to pay any tax at all. He just used 1706 as leverage for his pathetic arguments, like protesters do when they declare themselves as not subject to income tax. Instead of challenging 1706 in the courts - where the IRS loses quite often - or work to change the law through legislation, Stack opted for the path of destruction and murder. I doubt anyone would have said that Timothy McVeigh had a legitimate beef about the mis-handling of the Branch Davidian Compound; I don't know why anyone would say Stack had a legitimate beef about 1706.

Posted by: Pete Terranova | Feb 22, 2010 5:03:53 AM