Irwin Schiff, an anti-tax author who has urged thousands of Americans to pay no taxes, was indicted by a federal grand jury Wednesday on tax evasion and conspiracy to defraud the United States.
According to the New York Times, the indictment handed up in Las Vegas also charges Schiff with preparing at least 4,950 returns that fraudulently listed zero income, failing to report $3.7 million in sales at his bookstore from 1997 through 2002 and using offshore accounts and an illegal "Christian Patriot Association" bank in Oregon to hide income and assets. If convicted, Schiff, who is 76, also faces $3.25 million in fines and up to 43 years in prison.
Schiff, a convicted tax evader, is the author of "The Federal Mafia: How It Illegally Imposes and Unlawfully Collects Income Taxes." He lectures extensively, encouraging taxpayers to report zero income.
Two of Schiff's associates were also charged. His former girlfriend, Cindy Neun, was charged with conspiracy, failure to file her tax returns, Social Security disability fraud and theft of government property. Lawrence Cohen, an employee of Schiff's bookstore, Freedom Books, was charged with conspiracy, preparing fraudulent tax returns and tax evasion.
"I have no income," Schiff told the New York Times. "I have filed my tax returns and reported zero income because I have no income in the constitutional sense. The government has fraudulently gotten an indictment and the claim that I owe taxes is false. The indictment is a fraud and I will file a motion to dismiss."
Schiff's psychiatrist has determined that Schiff suffers from paranoid delusions and believes that only he can interpret tax laws. "No jury can convict me," Schiff said. "I say I am America's leading expert on the income tax. Everyone knows I believe no law requires me to pay taxes, so there is no willful intent to commit a crime. And if I am wrong, then I am delusional, in which case I am not willful. So they can't legally convict me of tax evasion or any other crime that requires willful intent."
The IRS warned taxpayers not to fall for schemes to cheat the IRS. "You may wind up in federal prison, said Eileen J. O'Connor, the assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department's tax division. "In the end, you will still owe taxes, and you may also owe interest and penalties."