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“We must reject…  …the broad contention submitted in behalf of the government that all receipts ─ everything that comes in ─ are income…”. United States Supreme Court, So. Pacific v. Lowe, 247 U.S. 330, (1918)

As the April 15th deadline approaches for Americans to line up for shearing by the political class, this writer returns once again to contemplating the criminal rights of spring. Book banning and witness tampering are today’s topics, the former a long tradition among powerful public figures who fear justice, the second more often associated with Mafia dons, also powerful public figures who fear justice but with weaker grammar and flashier suits.

Forcing a witness to change sworn testimony is the crime of witness tampering. What you write on a tax return signed under penalties of perjury is “sworn testimony” by any measure.

On February 26th, 2007, in Michigan’s Eastern District Court, a team of U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Attorneys and Federal District Court Judge Nancy G. Edmunds conspired to commit the crime of witness tampering against legal researcher and author Peter Hendrickson. Hendrickson is by no means the first income tax scholar to be sued by the U.S. government, but his case is unique, in that he is not accused of any crime, but is being sued civilly for the return of money refunded to him. The IRS is saying in effect, “Oh, darn, we messed up and now we need the court to tell this guy he owes us money even though we told him he doesn’t.”

Judge Edmunds granted the DOJ summary judgment in their lawsuit to force Mr. Hendrickson to change his testimony. Having refunded Mr. Hendrickson's payments, government needs the court to provide a pretext for claiming Hendrickson owed income taxes in 2002 and 2003. However, forcing someone to change sworn testimony is a crime even when a judge orders it. Asking a court to order such an act is like asking a police officer to steal your neighbor’s car for you because you know it would be a crime for you to steal it yourself.

Though there are still motions before the court, judge Edmunds apparently has agreed to steal the car. And not only did she agree that the DOJ can compel Hendrickson to change his testimony and dictate to him what it should be, she did so without the formality of a trial.

Official Treasury Department Certificates of Assessment show Hendrickson owes no taxes for the years in question. Nowhere in the complaint does the DOJ present evidence that Hendrickson owes anything or that his testimony is false. They have no such evidence. With Judge Edmund’s help, they don’t need evidence.

But the lawsuit isn’t really about Mr. Hendrickson’s taxes, which wouldn’t pay for a week’s work by the team of lawyers working to get them, it’s about his book. In three previous lawsuits the DOJ has tried and failed to suppress Mr. Hendrickson’s book, Cracking the Code ─ the Fascinating Truth about Taxation in America. The DOJ’s desperate, and now criminal, efforts to silence Mr. Hendrickson are because of what he reveals in that book.

In Cracking the Code Hendrickson shows that the application of the income tax is far more limited than most Americans believe. He demonstrates how key terms in the code such as “wages,” “employer,” “employee,” “trade or business” and “self-employment” are specifically defined to limit the income tax to certain federally privileged activities. Unaware of the special definitions, most Americans give the words their common meaning and mistakenly pay taxes they do not owe.

If what the book says is true, neither the IRS nor the U.S. government want it to become a best seller. From all indications other than the lawsuit against Hendrickson, however, the IRS itself acknowledges that what the book says is exactly true.

Despite a carefully inaccurate summary of Cracking the Code on its web site, the IRS continues to send full refunds ─ Social Security and Medicare ‘contributions’ included ─ to all who file accurate returns based on what they learn in Cracking the Code.

Hendrickson’s web site,, shows copies of refund checks, credits and corrected account statements amounting to over $1.7 million received by his readers since the book was first published in 2003. This amount, which the IRS says is a mere fraction of what it has returned to readers of Hendrickson’s book so far, continues to grow every week.

Hendrickson doesn’t sell or offer any advice other than his book. He maintains that income tax law is legitimate and in complete harmony with the U.S. Constitution. In the opening line in the forward to his book he says this: “Let’s get this said loud and clear right at the outset: IF YOU HAVE TAXABLE INCOME, YOU ARE SUBJECT TO THE INCOME TAX.” 

He goes on to show, however, that peculiarities, complexities and outright deceptions disbursed throughout nearly four million words of the Internal Revenue Code have lead many who do not have “taxable income” to believe and report that they do.

I recommend the book if only because there are powerful people who would prefer you didn’t read it.