From 1966 through 1976 Kenneth
L. Thomas, a Field Engineer employed by IBM, filed his tax
returns. He subsequently stopped, claiming that he had no
tax liability and the government finally caught on –
they indicted him on March 19, 1984 and charged Thomas with
willfully failing to file tax returns for the tax years 1979,
1980, and 1981.
Note that they could not charge Thomas with 1977 and 1978
due to the 5 year statute of limitations, and they could not
charge him with failure to file for tax years 1982 and 1983
because it was not yet too late to file those. A superseding
indictment filed October 1, 1984, retained these three charges
and added four more: failing to file tax returns for 1982
and 1983, and willfully filing false certificates asking his
employer to cease all withholding on the ground that he was
“exempt" from taxation.
The trial began on January 15, 1985. Thomas argued that he
did not need to file tax returns because the Sixteenth Amendment
was not part of the Constitution. Thomas insisted that it
was not properly ratified, citing as his authority the argument
of W. Benson & M. Beckman, The Law That Never Was
The jury convicted Thomas on all counts. The district court
sentenced Thomas to a total of four years' imprisonment and
fined him $22,000. Thomas filed an appeal.
On April 17, 1986, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals published
an Opinion by Judge Easterbrook in which he stated:
“Benson and Beckman did not discover anything;
they rediscovered something that Secretary Knox considered
“Thomas insists that because the states did not
approve exactly the same text, the amendment did not go
into effect. Secretary Knox considered this argument. The
Solicitor of the Department of State drew up a list of the
errors in the instruments and -- taking into account both
the triviality of the deviations and the treatment of earlier
amendments that had experienced more substantial problems
-- advised the Secretary that he was authorized to declare
the amendment adopted. The Secretary did so.”
“Although Thomas urges us to take the view of
several state courts that only agreement on the literal
text may make a legal document effective, the Supreme Court
follows the "enrolled bill rule." If a legislative
document is authenticated in regular form by the appropriate
officials, the court treats that document as properly adopted.
Secretary Knox declared that enough states had ratified
the sixteenth amendment. The Secretary's decision is not
transparently defective. We need not decide when, if ever,
such a decision may be reviewed in order to know that Secretary
Knox's decision is now beyond review.”
This Opinion, recorded as; United States Of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v. Kenneth L. Thomas, Defendant-Appellant, Case No. 85-2120,
United States Court Of Appeals For The Seventh Circuit, 788
F.2d 1250, is appended to this report for your review as Exhibit.
In reviewing this case, note that the 7th Circuit Court of
Appeals was fully aware of Benson, his book in general, and
the Sixteenth Amendment related issues in particular. They
specifically referenced these, stated that the entire issue
is now “beyond review,” and explained why.
Also note that, although some of Thomas’ convictions
(Counts One through Three) were reversed, they were reversed
under 18 USC §3162(a)(2) due to “speedy trial”
issues. Benson’s 16th Amendment related issues were
disposed of outright as irrelevant.
Rather than expect your Clients to accept your
word for it, you can let them read the Decision, Order and
Appendix for themselves. See Exhibit.
questions and suggestions.