Tax Attack

The Right Targets the IRS [An excerpt from a longer article]

By Abby Scher

This article is from the March/April 1997 issue of Dollars and Sense: The Magazine of Economic Justice available at

This article is from the March/April 1997 issue of Dollars & Sense magazine.

issue 210 cover

You can't get Irwin to stop talking. Believe me. And try to ask him a question! You have to interrupt him, and then he cries, "Let me finish the point!" Irwin Schiff is a crusader. Irwin Schiff is the Western tax resisters' guru. Irwin Schiff has the answers.

Schiff believes so strongly that no law requires him to pay federal income taxes that he has gone to jail for his cause. He calls Pete Rose and Leona Helmsley fellow political prisoners who the Internal Revenue Service targeted to scare other Americans into paying their taxes. On his weekly radio show, broadcast out of Las Vegas, and to all who will listen, he has offered $5000 to anyone who finds a federal statute that says people have to pay income taxes.

But while Schiff, 68, may be one of the more colorful, and right-wing tax rebels, he has lots of company. Not only among the corporate and monied classes who, as a matter of course, exploit tax loopholes and fund Washington D.C. think tanks to promote federal tax cuts. More moderate anti-tax sentiment led voters in five states to approve referenda limiting tax hikes last November; only two states passed such referenda during the elections that elevated the Republicans to Congressional power in 1994. And in a recent poll, Americans ranked taxes as the top economic problem facing the country—a year ago it ranked third.

Anti-tax sentiment is a persistent fact in American politics. But as conservatism has become more mainstream, so have the far right's efforts to junk the federal income tax and dismantle the IRS entirely.

Abby Scher is co-editor of Dollars & Sense

end of article