Court Rules Tax Protester Can’t Sell His Book of Tax Advice

A federal appeals court has ruled that a well-known tax protester cannot sell his book, "The Federal Mafia," because it encourages people to commit fraud.

Irwin Schiff, 76, of Las Vegas, who authored the book and owns a book store, may be able to sell a new version of the book if he removes the parts that push his tax evasion products and services, the New York Times reported Tuesday. Anyone but Schiff and two of his associates can sell the $38 book, the court ruled.

Schiff has gone to federal prison twice for tax crimes. He was indicted in March for helping more than 3,600 people try to avoid $56 million in taxes by reporting zero income on tax returns. Schiff calls the strategy a legal way to escape taxes, but the courts have rejected that claim, the Times reported.

Under law, the government is allowed to ban commercial speech if it encourages people to commit crimes. The U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco contended that the book was a central part of Schiff’s marketing of tax-evasion schemes, therefore making it commercial in nature.

"The defendants have been selling products that help their customers engage in illegal activity," the decision said.

Allen Lichtenstein, an attorney who represented booksellers, publishers, the ACLU and other groups that supported Schiff, said he believes the book can be sold if the false commercial speech is removed and the book contains only "unorthodox tax theories."

Schiff told the Times that demand for his tax advice has not slackened. "I just finished meeting with this elderly couple—the guy has emphysema—who owe no taxes, but the government is trying to make them pay," he said, adding that he kept only half his usual fee in that case.

You may like these other stories...

Here's a CPA who truly walks the walk. On March 15, Frank Ryan, CPA, departed San Diego, California, with plans to be in Ocean City, Maryland, by July 2 to teach a course at the Maryland Association of CPAs’ (MACPA...
When Theodore J. Flynn first joined the Massachusetts Society of CPAs (MSCPA) in 1970, it was a different world and a different profession.  The "Big Eight" were still headquartered in Boston. Vietnam War...
Accountant Rickey Charles Goodrich had it a little too good. Many bean counters would kill to serve as financial guru to the likes of Pearl Jam. Goodrich was hired in 2005, and the following year, he became the CFO of Curtis...

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Jul 16
Hand off work to others with finesse and success. Kristen Rampe, CPA will share how to ensure delegated work is properly handled from start to finish in this content-rich one hour webinar.
Jul 17
This webcast will cover the preparation of the statement of cash flows and focus on accounting and disclosure policies for other important issues described below.
Jul 23
We can’t deny a great divide exists between the expectations and workplace needs of Baby Boomers and Millennials. To create thriving organizational performance, we need to shift the way in which we groom future leaders.
Jul 24
In this presentation Excel expert David Ringstrom, CPA revisits the Excel feature you should be using, but probably aren't. The Table feature offers the ability to both boost the integrity of your spreadsheets, but reduce maintenance as well.