In 1999, I was convicted of filing false statements on my law office tax return. One year in federal prison and two years of probation followed. After all sentences were served the IRS determined that there were no false statements and that no tax was ever due. However, I am forever a convicted felon whose law practice was destroyed, who cannot vote in many states, who cannot own or possess a firearm and who cannot volunteer in a school. There are many other restrictions for convicted felons.
My law practice successfully represented farmers with complaints against the federal government and others with problems with the IRS. After the IRS charged one of my clients with kidnapping a federal agent which carried a mandatory life sentence, I obtained an acquittal by the jury after twenty minutes of deliberation of the charge of impeding a federal officer. The Department of Justice lawyer told me that I did not know who I was messing with. Thereafter I was investigated for years without finding any wrongdoing. The IRS and/or the Department of Justice subpoenaed my tax returns and all of our records. Court testimony confirms that the IRS agent was instructed to ask no questions and neither seek or accept any attempt to explain deductions contained in the returns.
Although I knew the IRS/DOJ had my returns, there had been no audit. I had no idea they were questioning anything until I was indicted for allegedly filing false statements on my returns. No allegation of concealment of income or including deductions that had not been paid – the indictment simply disagreed with my deductions.
A conviction for filing a false statement on one’s tax return does not require proof that taxes were evaded or even owed. The IRS/DOJ indictment claimed twenty-six separate instances of false statements over four years. After days of testimony alleging that the deductions were improper, the court dismissed twenty-three claims as so clearly wrong that no reasonable juror could come to the conclusion that any of them were false. Unfortunately, the court refused to advise the jury of how outrageous the first twenty-three claims were. The jury without instruction regarding the tax law was to consider the remaining three deductions and not speculate as to why they were not to consider the other “evidence” presented. I was convicted and sent to prison for a year without an opportunity to prosecute an appeal while outside of prison.
Despite the filing of multiple briefs from prison, the appeals court clerk dismissed my appeal for failure to prosecute. I immediately filed a motion to reinstate the appeal and allow it to be heard. That motion lies in the basement of the court of appeals and the court has not acted on the motion. I have been advised that the court will never act on it.
After I had served the one year sentence in federal prison, I was threatened by the trial court judge with being returned to prison if I did not immediately agree that taxes were owed and either pay or make arrangements to pay “all taxes due and owing.” I refused and demanded that proper procedures of assessment with the opportunity to appeal the assessment be followed. Immediately prior to a scheduled hearing to send me back to prison, the IRS and Department of Justice finally agreed to issue the assessment. At the very first level of appeal, the IRS Appeals officer was incredulous and demanded to know the real complaint about my returns. The poor IRS agents indicated that they had spent hundreds of hours trying to justify the tax, however, there was no rational justification for tax being due. The appeals officer ruled that my deductions were proper and that no tax was ever due and owing.
While I have proof of the decision, the IRS has refused to give me a copy of the ruling which I understand is required by the rules. I am a convicted felon and an ex-convict. My professional career and public reputation were destroyed. In 2012 it was shocking to see the Senate Majority Leader stand on the floor of the Senate and falsely assure the public that a candidate for president of the United States (Romney) had not paid taxes for ten years. It is equally shocking to now hear Mr. Romney himself assure us that there is good reason to believe Mr. Trump’s tax returns contain a bombshell. It should not surprise me that no one with an agenda (political?) would condemn the slanderous comments. The degree of conspiracy/complicity shown against me and the ease of obtaining a conviction is frightening. Considering the slash and burn nature of today’s political campaigns where “facts” can be made up or grossly exaggerated, Mr. Trump and all others should be hesitant to release tax returns.
I have never considered myself a tax expert, however, tax outcomes can be reasonably predicted with careful research. The so-called bombshell of a mid-nineties tax return showing hundreds of millions of dollars of tax loss is in no way illegal if the losses can be proven. Mr. Trump has addressed the dire need for tax law reform. It has been said that the tax law now amounts to over 76,000 pages! Who can reasonably be expected to know the tax law? I fear that a corrupt IRS and/or the Department of Justice can easily coerce conduct by threatening or in fact pursuing criminal punishment for any taxpaying citizen. We may not like the manners that Mr. Trump sometimes displays. In fact, some of the things he says can be downright hurtful. However, upon careful examination, he appears to be authentic and means what he says. He appears to speak the truth.