Can you be convicted of conspiracy if you openly declare the government's tax laws to be illegal and refuse to pay? Apparently so.
Al Thompson, 58, one of the nation's most notorious tax avoiders was convicted Friday on all but one of 14 tax charges he'd faced after failing to withhold taxes from his workers' pay more than fours ago.
Thompson, who acted as his own attorney in the case, was the owner of a now-defunct small manufacturing company in California, the New York Times reported. The company, Cencal Aviation Products, made flight bags and other accessories for pilots.
He has been in custody since November and was jailed three prior times for violating civil orders to cooperate with state auditors and file federal tax returns, the Times reported.
His conviction is yet another blow to the “tax honesty movement,” made up of several groups who believe Americans are tricked into paying taxes. Some claim there is no law on the books that authorizes the collection of taxes.
Thompson was convicted of filing a false tax return, false claims against the government and willful failure to withhold and pay taxes, the Times reported.
He was acquitted in the jury trial of conspiring with Joseph Banister, a former Internal Revenue Service criminal investigator, to defeat the tax laws. Mr. Banister, a certified public accountant in San Jose, Calif., who tells clients no law requires them to pay taxes, asked to be tried separately in June, the Times reported.
Thompson told jurors that he did not see how they could convict him of conspiracy. The government contends that the tax revenue lost as a result of Thompson's crusade amounts to $256,000.