The Gospel According to St. William, or
Can I Get an, "Amen," Brother

By: Bill E. Branscum
Copyright 2001

Before you first sit down with a person who has been victimized by a con artist specializing in investment/tax shelter fraud, you need to understand that these people have spent/lost a fortune pursuing a nonexistent "Grail," represented to hold the secrets of financial prosperity that everyone assures them exists. The people have been indoctrinated (usually at significant expense) to believe things that you are going to find hard believe.

In dealing with your Client, bear in mind that tax protests are typically considered to be "patriotic." It was, after all, a group tax protesters that staged the great "Tea Party" in Boston. In addition to the patriotic appeal, in many cases, these pitchmen capitalize upon religious convictions. In all cases, bear in mind that the wife may have been pushed to go along with things in spite of her intuitions. The effect on the marriage when it all blows up can be disastrous.

There is also a good bit of fear and paranoia involved in some of these cases. For example, I have had Clients who attended seminars where nabobs proclaimed that the New World Order established the Federal Reserve in 1910, during a secret meeting on Jekyll Island, attended by a cartel of international bankers, as a means of controlling governments and benefiting the wealthy at the common man's expense.

The whole story is laid out in, The Creature from Jekyll Island, a cult classic if ever there was one, promoted by those who market it as being second in significance only to the Bible. Written by G. Edward Griffin, a masterful proponent of conspiracy theory, this book promises to provide a "complete report on the secrets of the international monetary system" and encourages everyone to believe that, "You don't have to be dumb to be a Christian or a good Catholic." I trust that you share my profound sense of relief.

By the time they come to you, Clients usually realize, and are prepared to believe, that they made some bad choices. They may accept that, but they usually haven't lost faith in that elusive Grail. I have had Clients take money salvaged from one scam, and dump it into another one equally as ridiculous.

Welcome to Brother Branscum's Holy Rolling Salvation Show.

I take my text from 2 Peter 1: 20,

"Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation." And so it is for the Tax Code.

No matter what your Client was told, they cannot refuse to pay taxes or "opt out," and the vast majority of "clever" tax strategies are ludicrous shams. Many of them actually result in the embezzlement of the funds involved.

First, I want to address the "you can legally refuse to file/pay" nonsense. Then we will talk about the promotion of these programs and the consequences.

I. Refusal to Pay - "If you're gonna be stupid, you better be tough."

If "stupid" seems like a harsh word, consider for a moment that we are talking about people who fully believe that they are going to walk into a federal court and convince a judge that the tax code is unconstitutional. The links below take you to pages debunking the common arguments, and citing cases accordingly, but what these people actually need is simple, common sense.

A federal judge would sooner agree that you can legally kill presidents on the first Thursday of the month, than abolish the Country's source of revenue. We could do without a few Presidents, but without revenue, the whole Country goes down the tubes. The ludicrous arguments that follow have been cited so many times it defies belief, in spite of the fact that no judge anywhere has ever found them persuasive. As you will see, judges have grown so tired of this "tax protester" rhetoric that they respond with sarcasm and sanctions - not to mention the penalties, interest and jail time that the IRS demands.

Global Prosperity, or Institute of Global Prosperity, which has also been known by a number of other names, is a prime example of those who market and promote ludicrous "tax secrets" to those who pay to attend their seminars. Their credibility relies upon people like Bill Benson, author of The Law That Never Was, and Judge Rizzo, who claims to have somehow refined Benson's balderdash. Here is the published statement of one of their true believers, David Starkey.

II. Table of Offenses - "Bringin 'em home to Jesus."

Assuming that you can persuade your potential Client to abandon the nonsense that these scam artists preach, they should understand that all these tax related "secrets" are a scam - once that sinks in, they immediately start wondering how much trouble they face.

If not, if they are still arguing after reading the facts and cases presented above, you have wasted enough of your valuable time. "When intellectuals argue with drunks or morons, bystanders cannot tell who is whom."

The Table of Offenses that follows is limited to the exposure your Client will be most likely to face - assuming the best case scenario. Never assume the best case scenario. For example, if your Client engaged in these activities to conceal assets in anticipation of a bankruptcy filing, or in an attempt to launder money, there are a litany of other issues to contend with.

Make sure, absolutely sure, that your Client is advised that dealing with their own exposure/liability issues is the first priority. They need to hire an attorney with experience in the IRS mitigation process, and nothing you could possibly do would be more valuable than steering them in the right direction.

Click here for: Table of Offenses

III. Sharing the Gospel - Martyrdom and the unGreat Commission

Most of these tax scams provide for some sort of reward for those true believers who preach their gospel, and some actually require promotional participation as a condition of involvement or advancement. Your Client will believe, and vehemently argue, that their activities are lawful and, in fact, protected under the First Amendment. Perhaps that sounds reasonable, but the Courts see it differently.

Click here for: The unGospel and Martyrdom

III. The Disciples Unmasked

Irwin Schiff, Bill Benson, Robbie Struckman, Lynn Meredith, Devy Kidd, Bill Drexler, Thurston Bell, . . . these people are much like some kind of latter day Jim Jones, but with a wicked twist. They know they are peddling poison, but they keep right on encouraging people to "drink the Kool Aid," assuring them it's totally safe, while denying the existence of all the rotting corpses of their "true believers" reeking in the background.

I have investigated most of these people for various clients. I'll post some highlights as time permits.


Finally, I take my text from Matthew 22:21,

"Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's . . ."

The bitter truth is, no judge is ever going to endorse a scheme that was orchestrated to eliminate revenue (tax evasion) or thwart the will of the court (Asset Protection Sham Trusts). Anyone willing to entertain the notion that some fast talking clown has managed to concoct a scheme that "hamstring's" the judge in their efforts to dispense justice, and effectively frustrates the court's intent to promote equity, needs to be wearing a tinfoil hat.

See also: Complex Desultory Philippic


I welcome your comments, questions and suggestions.

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