The Regime's Relentless Persecution of Phil Hart

“Mr. Hart, do you contest the legitimacy of the federal government of the United States of America?”

That question was posed to former Idaho State Representative Phil Hart a few minutes into his February 3 federal bankruptcy hearing. By asking that question, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Newman transmuted the proceeding into a heresy trial.

“No, I do not,” replied Hart – a good and sufficient answer that was ignored by the Inquisitor.

Exhibit 36 in the hearing was a book entitled “Constitutional Income: Do You Have Any?” which Hart published in 2001. 

Newman read an excerpt from page 300 of Hart’s book in which the author complained that the political system of the United States, which was “originally intended to be a citizen/public servant relationship,” has degenerated into “a bureaucrat/master or licensee/slave relationship.”

“Do you believe that individuals in the United States are essentially in a slave relationship with the government?” inquired Newman. Unsatisfied with Hart’s reply, Newman proceeded to page 90 of the book, which referred to the New Testament principle that “godly government” was established “to reward good and punish evil.”

“Our duty to submit to godly authority has a qualifier attached to it,” Hart pointed out in that passage, writing from the perspective of an Evangelical Christian. “When authority ceases to be godly, then we cease to have a duty to submit to it.”

“Does this accurately reflect your views?” asked Newman, prompting an objection from Hart’s defense attorney, Charles MacFarland, that the investigation of Hart’s religious opinions, which to an extent are shared “with a majority of mainstream Americans,” was improper. After Judge Terry Meyers overruled the objection, Newman continued.

“The bottom line of this is that when authority ceases to be godly, we cease to have a duty to submit to it,” the prosecutor asserted. “Does that accurately reflect your view?” More specifically, “As it relates to the IRS or the State of Idaho attempting to collect back taxes by levying or seizing your property or the property held in the name of the Sarah Elizabeth Hart Trust, do you think that the authority of the IRS had ceased to be godly, and that you had no duty to submit to it?”

Newman is a religious man. If he is at all a reflective man it might have occurred to him that he was literally playing the Pharisee by posing to Hart the same question that the Pharisees had presented to Jesus.

Furthermore, Newman belongs to a denomination, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,  whose 19th-century leaders deliberately and systematically violated federal anti-bigamy laws out of devotion to a religious practice – “plural marriage” – that I regard as entirely repellent, but that they considered sublime and ennobling. Because of their principled refusal to submit to what they regarded (correctly) as unjust and unconstitutional laws, the corporation over which they presided was taken into receivership, its assets were seized, and the church itself slated for liquidation.

In the face of the prohibitive advantage enjoyed by a government determined to do objective evil, the leaders of that church adjusted their convictions and submitted to that government’s putative authority (eventually, following a “decent interval” of continued covert disobedience).

In answering Newman’s question, Hart could honestly have said that the IRS never “ceased to be godly,” because it was a diabolical criminal syndicate from its inception. Instead, he pointed to the uncontested legal record demonstrating that he, like the 19th-century leaders of Newman’s church, had complied in the face of the prohibitive destructive power wielded by the Regime that rules us.

“The record in the District Court case, and the record in the bankruptcy court case, really speaks for itself,” Hart pointed out. “I have paid probably close to $200,000 to the IRS in the last ten or twelve years. I have submitted all kinds of records and complied with all kinds of requests. So I think that record speaks as to the actions that I have taken.”

Inquisitor Newman was not mollified by that response.

“I’m not asking about what you had to pay, but whether you believed that you were excused or somehow no longer obligated,” he persisted, tacitly claiming jurisdiction over Hart’s unspoken thoughts and imputed motives.

Exploiting unusual leeway offered by Judge Meyers, Newman referred to a passage on page 91 of Hart’s book:

“When the government takes one-third or more of a man’s yearly earnings, using as its authority to do so a law that is many thousands of pages long and so complicated that virtually no one can understand it, is the government doing good? Or is the government doing evil?”

“The point of that sentence was to make the assertion that government was doing evil in relation to taxation – is that correct?” demanded the Inquisitor. Hart replied by pointing out that former Treasury Secretary John Snow had called the tax code “incomprehensible.”

Implacably searching for evidence of thoughtcrime, Inquisitor Newman referred to page 172 of Hart’s book, in which the author quite sensibly observed that “The feudal system has crept back into our land, but only because of the ignorance of our people. If enough Americans are willing to study the law and take action, we could defeat this feudal system using only paper bullets.”Asked by Newman to justify this seditious statement, Hart pointed out that the signers of the Declaration of Independence – including his own ancestor, John Hart – believed that they were acting to throw off a feudal system.

“I think I’m infected with his political philosophy,” Hart conceded.

Evincing exasperation begotten by the knowledge that the witness was making a fool of him, Inquisitor Newman flung an accusation disguised as a question at Hart, without even pretending to lay a foundation for it:“Do you believe that federal government employees have the ability, or the right, to murder American citizens as long as that employee has punched the time clock that morning and will stay on duty?”

Once again, if Hart could have honestly answered that question in the affirmative, citing the immunity from prosecution extended to FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi after he murdered Vicki Weaver during a 1992 siege that occurred roughly 70 miles from the courtroom where he was being interrogated. But the purpose of that question, of course, was to accuse, not to solicit an honest answer.

“Your Honor, I don’t think I understand the question,” objected Hart’s bemused defense attorney.“Neither do I,” observed Judge Meyers, whose patience with the federal attorney was finally exhausted.

“Mr. Newman, I’ve already advised defense counsel that I’m going to deal with relevance issues later,” Meyer told the federal prosecutor. “But this has become so attenuated from the issue at hand … that I’m going to need something from you that establishes that I should continue to belabor it this afternoon as opposed to moving on to more material aspects of the case.”

At this point, Newman tried to convince Judge Meyers that scrutinizing Hart’s political views, and inquiring into his unspoken opinions regarding hypothetical questions, was justified in order to establish his supposed “intent to defraud” the IRS by concealing assets in his bankruptcy. This was an elaborate exercise in question-begging: The federal government was trying to use Hart’s political opinions as evidence that such concealment had occurred, despite a detailed factual record demonstrating that the opposite was true.

“Part of that intent [to conceal] is evidenced by his views that taxation is improper [and] illegal,” Newman declared, “and to the extent he believes that the government is evil, that he is not obligated….”

“As the court that will be the ultimate fact-finder, it seems to me that, as Mr. Hart said, actions speak louder than words,” Judge Meyer pointed out.

Objecting to Newman’s line of questioning, defense attorney McFarland briefly summarized Hart’s actions in relation to the IRS.“From 2003 on he has dealt with the IRS forthrightly, and as Mr. Hart will testify, the IRS has not dealt with him forthrightly,” McFarland told the judge. “They disallowed all of his deductions for his business because he wouldn’t reveal who he sold this book to. So this is – excuse the term – I think this is a political witch hunt.”

Like his philosophical progenitors inSoviet Russia and Nazi Germany, Newman not only sought to criminalize Hart’s political views, but also to misconstrue them in order to appeal to the prejudices of the ruling class.

In the book from which Newman (or more likely a federal research drone) scoured up a few supposedly scandalous quotes, Hart makes it very clear that he does not oppose the income tax in principle, nor does he focus exclusively on the manifest iniquity of the IRS.

“I believe Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes was right when he said `Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society,” wrote Hart two pages into the Introduction of his book, a passage carefully avoided by Newman. “Furthermore, I also believe that a balanced income tax is a desirable tax, and should be a part of the revenue collection apparatus of the federal government…. The original theory behind the income tax is good…. In the vernacular of the day, it was a tax on `accumulated wealth,’” rather than a direct, un-apportioned tax on wages and income.

Hart even directed criticism away from the agency that was tormenting him even then and has not relented in the decade-and-a-half since: “Congress has intentionally written the Internal Revenue Code to be deceptive while at the same time refusing to answer our questions on the matter. Don’t blame the IRS, it is Congress that has the power to levy and collect taxes. Congress is the villain.”

People of goodwill might disagree with Hart’s opinions (especially those who understand that taxation of any kind is theft, and correctly perceive the IRS to be an artifact of unalloyed evil). Newman’s encapsulation of Hart’s view – namely, that he regards taxation as “illegal and improper” – was a lie.

Although the State-aligned media will routinely berate Hart for being a “tax protester” (as if that description is truly pejorative to anyone who understands American history), or a “tax cheat” (an expression that connotes a moral delinquency on the part of someone trying to protect honestly earned wealth from the designs of government-sanctioned robbers), Hart does not refuse to pay taxes, nor does he encourage others to do so.

After conducting detailed primary-source research into the origins of the Income Tax amendment, its legislative history, and the early court cases dealing with it, Hart came to the conclusion that it has been deliberately misconstrued as a tax on earnings, rather than “accumulated wealth.” It is true that during the late 1990s, Hart – a registered civil engineer who earned an MBA at the Wharton School – withheld his tax payments while pursuing a constitutional challenge to the federal income tax. This was necessary in order for him to gain standing to sue the government. After the Supreme Court denied him a hearing in 2004, Hart filed the necessary returns.

In the midst of his legal challenge, Hart published his research findings in his much-discussed book, which immediately came to the attention of the Regime’s extortion specialists.

“I read your book `Constitutional Income: Do You Have Any?'” Hart was notified in a letter from IRS agent Barbara Parks announcing that the terrorist clique employing her was beginning an “investigation” of the book. The purpose of that inquiry, she continued, was “to determine whether or not your statements are commercial speech and whether this activity causes harm to the government.” With the help of the Center for Individual Rights, Hart successfully sued the IRS to interdict the agency’s demand that he turn over the names of everybody who had purchased his book. Four years later, the IRS retaliated against Hart by issuing a final audit report denying all of his business deductions for eight years, hitting him with an additional tax liability of roughly $125,000. When he protested his treatment to the IRS, an official with the agency gloatingly explained: “When you don’t give us everything we ask for, you get all of your deductions denied.”

“During [my] four-year audit, I provided the IRS with all my canceled checks, receipts, invoices and so on — boxes worth,” Hart recounted to me. “Yet these deductions were denied solely for political reasons.”

The late Paul J. Desfosses, a Certified Public Accountant and retired U.S. Treasury Agent,confirmed and elaborated upon Hart’s conclusion that he has been targeted for retaliation by the IRS “for failing to `snitch’ on and provide the names of those citizens who might have dared to buy and read [his] book with its critical history and assessment of Federal Income Tax Law.”

“While assigned to the Internal Revenue Service Idaho District, I was a National Treasury Employees Union Official and I routinely acted as the Union Steward in situations involving IRS employees who had been ordered to commit reprehensible and often felony criminal actions by their IRS managers or other IRS top officials,” Desfosses testified. The agency “collected and compiled huge lists of citizens who were then targeted for audit and harassment for having bought and read a book such as Representative Hart’s,” or because they were perceived to be “a `threat’ to the Federal Government’s power” by IRS supervisors.

Despite the fact that Hart’s book was not a contested asset in the bankruptcy, or materially relevant to any controversy involving such assets, the US government did its formidable best to make it the centerpiece of its case. For at least six hours on the first day of his trial, and more than two hours on the second, Hart was interrogated not only about his financial affairs but his political and religious views. Three attorneys who had represented him in his dealings with the IRS were subpoenaed to testify against their client.

Hart has conceded that roughly sixty percent of the contrived $586,000 tax liability imposed by the IRS cannot be discharged through bankruptcy. The purpose of the federal government’s spurious lawsuit against Hart was three-fold. First, the IRS wants to make it impossible for him to discharge any of the remaining “debt.” The second objective was to deprive him of the ability to find a home to replace the one that was seized through a tax auction conducted by the IRS’s Property Appraisal and Liquidation Specialists (PALS), a section of that organ of state terrorism devoted strictly to acts of dispossession.

The third, and most insidious, objective being pursued by Newman on behalf of the people who slop his trough and hold his leash, was to create a legal record that could be used in a future criminal case – most likely for “perjury” and “obstruction.” This was made clear by the repeated and specific questions about perjury posed by the prosecutor in interrogating Hart’s defense attorneys. None of them offered any evidence of perjury on the part of the defendant, but as the IRS’s behavior demonstrates – and Newman’s courtroom tactics confirm – the Regime is quite capable of prolonging its pursuit of Hart despite the absence of evidence that he has committed an actual offense.

Resolution of the government’s vindictive bankruptcy fraud suit remains elusive. Final arguments before U.S. Judge Myers will be submitted in writing after the trial transcript becomes available, which means a verdict won’t be rendered for several months.

“This has been going on for a decade and a half now,” Hart pointed out to me. “According to the best estimate I’ve seen, the government has probably spent about four million dollars by dragging me through the courts.”

Given that the resources of the Regime are as bottomless as its reservoir of malice, it’s likely that Hart will never see an end to official persecution while he remains within his mortal coil.