Nevada Public Radio Listen Live

"Here and Now"
Facebook Twitter Follow Nevada Public Radio

Support Nevada Public Radio
April 13, 2004

ARCHIVE: Irwin Schiff


INTRO: Former Libertarian Presidential Candidate and author Irwin Schiff hasn't paid taxes for more than a quarter century. He's preached the anti-tax message to thousands of others. But today, in Las Vegas, he'll be arraigned for tax fraud. From Nevada Public Radio, Ky Plaskon reports.

PLASKON: Just off the Las Vegas Strip is a baby blue house converted into offices for Freedom Books. A sign out front preaches, "Why pay taxes if no law says you have to?" It attracts customers like this tall man in shorts and slicked-back hair.

ANONYMOUS: Why do something that you aren't required to do, especially if it causes you any kind of anxiety or anguish.

PLASKON: This gentleman, who won't reveal his name, now has a different kind of anxiety: The IRS has slapped a lien on his house. He's come TO THIS NO-TAX MECCA for advice. It comes in the form of a 14-page paper booklet at a cost of 95-dollar written by self-proclaimed authority on taxes, Irwin Schiff. Inside the office, Schiff sits behind a paper-strewn mahogany desk and describes how his tax advice business works.

SCHIFF: What I do is I explain the law, I sell the law, let the people figure it out on their own. They don't have to buy my books, let them buy the internal revenue code, but it would take them a long time to ferret out the information.

PLASKON: He's not an attorney - but after studying the tax code for 30 years argues that the word "income" only applies to corporate profits, not individuals. He used to not file taxes at all, but after being convicted and sent to prison for that in the early 80s he's a changed man. Now he dutifully files income taxes, but fills out all the lines on the 1040 form with a zero. The 76-year-old has written a half-dozen books on anti-tax theories, how taxes and social security are hoaxes and making the case for how they are destroying America. Up until a year ago, he promoted them on his own Las Vegas radio show.

RADIO SHOW: Did you know there is no law requiring you to pay income taxes? It's true . . . Ask the nation's leading authority . . . Irwin Schiff . . . I know it is hard to believe but there is no law requiring you to pay income taxes. . . .

PLASKON: But last year, the IRS caught wind of ads from Schiff on the Michael Savage and Bill O'Reilley shows.

SCHIFF: They must have gone ballistic when they heard my adds on these national shows saying you know you don't have to pay income taxes, get my book.

PLASKON: Schiff and two associates were raided by the IRS and a federal grand jury eventually returned a 33 count indictment charging them with conspiracy, and aiding and assisting in filing almost 5 thousand fraudulent tax returns. Schiff was also charged with tax evasion for not reporting any income for a number of years despite millions of dollars in business receipts. He says he'll plead guilty if and only if the US attorney will show him a law that people who earn income must pay taxes. University of Nevada Las Vegas law professor Steve Johnson says it wont be the first time judges have heard and dismissed Schiff's no-tax arguments.

JOHNSON: The courts have used language when describing his arguments like, frivolous, spurious, blatant nonsense, unworthy of extended discussion and nothing but arrogant sophistry.

PLASKON: The Department of Justice is trying to zip the lips of more anti-tax promoters these days. It began a new initiative in 2001 and since then has taken some 73 tax schemers to court. If Schiff is convicted, he faces 43 years in prison and millions in fines.

For NPR News, I'm Ky Plaskon in Las Vegas

See discussion rules.


Apr 4, 2009 | Drug Donation Program
Nevada lawmakers are debating the creation of a program that would help cancer patients get expensive prescription drugs for less.

Mar 13, 2009 | Budget Wrangling
As state lawmakers wrestle with Nevada's multi-billion-dollar budget deficit, there are several plans afoot aimed at softening the next economic bust.

Mar 2, 2009 | Autism
The cost of treating children with autism can be $24,000 to $40,000 per child per year according to the Autism Coalition of Nevada. A bill before the Nevada Legislature aims to help families pay for the care.

Feb 16, 2007 | Chinese New Year
This weekend marks a celebration of Chinese New Year. KNPR's Rick Andrews reports on how the holiday is being celebrated by the valley's growing Asian community.

Dec 7, 2006 | Food and Beverage
The economy of scale for food and beverage operations in Las Vegas means any edge in efficiency is real money. Rick Andrews reports on a software product scoring with food and beverage managers looking at the bottom line...and what you're likely to order.

Nov 15, 2006 | Global Gaming Expo
The Global Gaming Expo trade show and conference got underway Tuesday in Las Vegas. Vendors showcase their latest wares including new slot machines.

Nov 1, 2006 | Stardust Memories
When it opened in 1958 the Stardust was the world's largest hotel. Now, after more than 48 years, it's closed.

Sep 27, 2006 | Nevada Northern Railway
The 'Nevada Northern' is celebrating its centenial anniversary. News 88.9's Rick Andrews went on a tour of the museum with executive director Mark Bassett.

Jun 30, 2006 | Standing Up for Ringo
Congresswoman Shelley Berkley tells the story of how she saw the Beatles in Las Vegas in August 1964.

Jun 29, 2006 | Sports Supplements
From fortified cereals to energy drinks to serious sports nutrition, people are willing to spend lots money to supplement their diets. Rick Andrews reports on the business of sports supplements.

May 25, 2006 | Love
Wednesday Cirque du Soleil provided a glimpse of their much anticipated show based on the music of the Beatles. Flo Rogers reports on Love.

May 24, 2006 | Telecommunications
A Senate telecommunications bill currently being considered includes provisions on most everything, but some worry that controversial measures will derail the entire package.

May 16, 2006 | Nanotech
Universities across the country are spending millions to expand nano technology research...manipulating molecules 10,000 times smaller than a human hair. Rick Andrews reports on nano research at UNLV.

Apr 24, 2006 | Earthscope
Hualapai Mountain Park, near Kingman, has been chosen by the National Science Foundation to be home to a seismic monitoring station. Gillian Ferris Kohl reports.

Apr 18, 2006 | Anatomical Donation for Science
In the second of two reports exploring innovative medical facilities in the Valley, Rick Andrews visits the Medical Education and Research Institute of Nevada in Henderson.

Apr 12, 2006 | Immigration Reform Stalled
Immigration legislation in the U.S. Senate is at a standstill. Many in the Republican Party blame Nevada Democrat, Senator Harry Reid for the impasse. Jill Morrison reports from Capitol Hill.

Apr 1, 2006 | New Plans for Nellis
The first of April brings news that a large piece of military land in Las Vegas may be redeveloped.

Mar 28, 2006 | Test Site Worker Compensation
Senator Harry Reid is trying to get compensation for Test Site workers who were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation, but never compensated.

Feb 27, 2006 | StoryCorps - Alice Keys
Alice Keys has been active in the African American community for decades and known through her association with the Moulin Rouge Casino. Here's her recollection of meeting one of the great African Americans of the last century.

Feb 21, 2006 | StoryCorps - Alan Morel and Mike Genoshe
When close friends interview each other, the stories are often more intimate and revealing than talking to a reporter. A case in point is Alan Morel and Mike Genoshe talking about their hopes for their adopted son.

Web hosting facilities provided by Switch.