The OMB and/or NPRA non Arguments
By: Bill E. Branscum
Copyrights 2000, 2001 & 2002

Some tax protesters argue that taxpayers are not required to file tax returns because of the National Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980, 44 U.S.C. § 3501, et seq. ("PRA"). The PRA was enacted to limit federal agencies' information requests that burden the public. The "public protection" provision of the PRA provides that no person shall be subject to any penalty for failing to maintain or provide information to any agency if the information collection request involved does not display a current control number assigned by the Office of Management and Budget [OMB] Director. 44 U.S.C. § 3512.

Advocates of this contention claim that they cannot be penalized for failing to file Form 1040, because the instructions and regulations associated with the Form 1040 do not display any OMB control number.

The Law: The courts have uniformly rejected this argument on different grounds. Some courts have simply noted that the PRA applies to the forms themselves, not to the instruction booklets, and because the Form 1040 does have a control number, there is no PRA violation.

Other courts have held that Congress created the duty to file returns in section 6012(a) and "Congress did not enact the PRA’s public protection provision to allow OMB to abrogate any duty imposed by Congress." United States v. Neff, 954 F.2d 698, 699 (11th Cir. 1992).

Relevant Case Law:

United States v. Wunder, 919 F.2d 34 (6th Cir. 1990) – the court rejected Wunder’s claim of a PRA violation, affirming his conviction for failing to file a return.

Salberg v. United States, 969 F.2d 379 (7th Cir. 1992) – the court affirmed Salberg’s conviction for tax evasion and failing to file a return, rejecting his claims under the PRA.

United States v. Holden, 963 F.2d 1114 (8th Cir.), cert. denied, 506 U.S. 958 (1992) – the court affirmed Holden’s conviction for failing to file a return and rejected his contention that he should have been acquitted because tax instruction booklets fail to comply with the PRA.

United States v. Hicks, 947 F.2d 1356, 1359 (9th Cir. 1991) – the court affirmed Hicks’ conviction for failing to file a return, finding that the requirement to provide information is required by law, not by the IRS. “This is a legislative command, not an administrative request. The PRA was not meant to provide criminals with an all-purpose escape hatch.”

Lonsdale v. United States, 919 F.2d 1440, 1445 (10th Cir. 1990) – the court found that the PRA “is inapplicable to ‘information collection request’ forms issued during an investigation against an individual to determine his or her tax liability.”

Once I have time to link all the foregoing cases and post them to this site for your review, you will note that these cases tend to have a common thread. The appeals are filed pro se; no self respecting lawyer would walk into a federal court and make these ridiculous arguments.

I welcome your comments, questions and suggestions.

© Copyright 2002 - Bill E. Branscum. All Rights Reserved.