‘I refuse to pay my federal income tax,’ says Westchester resident, who wants to spend his day in court with the IRS
By Dan Murphy
The Internal Revenue Service, IRS, has always been regarded by Americans as the least popular government agency. Mark Twain said it best when he joked, “What’s the difference between a taxidermist and a tax collector?” The taxidermist leaves the skin.
As April 15th approaches and we all prepare to file our federal income taxes, we sat down with longtime Westchester resident Tony Futia. Futia, 86, is a longtime resident of North White Plains in the town of North Castle. He served our country in the Navy and worked for 45 years in the town of North Castle and served on the school board of Valhalla.
But Tony Futia will not file his federal tax return on April 15, or at any time this year. In fact, he hasn’t filed a federal return since 2014 and has undertaken the ultimate protest against the IRS by refusing to pay his federal income tax based on his belief and the belief of his organization called We The People say there is no law requiring most US citizens in all 50 states to pay their federal income tax.
“There is no federal statute or law that requires Americans to pay federal income taxes. When you file or sign a W-4, you do so voluntarily. Only federal employees must file and pay federal income taxes. For the rest of us, there’s no law that requires us to do that,” said Futia, who waited until his wife Martye died in 2013 before taking on the taxman.
Futia transferred most of his assets to his children and stopped filing a 1040 in seven years. The IRS sends me notices of overdue taxes, now at $88,000 for 2014 and 2017, but has taken no further action. Futia’s main source of income is her pension from North Castle, which the IRS cannot seize.
Futia and We The People want their day in court arguing that the 16th Amendment to the US Constitution, ratified in 1913, does not require every American to pay federal income tax. The amendment establishes “the right of Congress to impose a federal income tax.” Prior to 1913, there was no federal income tax in the United States.
The 16th Amendment does not say, impose a federal income tax on every US citizen. It is this ambiguity, and the fact that Congress has never passed a law requiring everyone to pay federal income tax, that Futia and We the People have been asking the IRS and the courts to address for over 20 years old.
Futia wants that day in court against the IRS to make that argument. But he has to wait for the IRS, or the US Department of Justice, to file a criminal case against him for tax evasion. “If I sue the IRS for what I believe to be their illegal actions, I will lose, because the federal courts always side with the IRS and cite lower court decisions. But if the IRS comes after me, I have the right to seek a jury trial, and we can bring it out in the open. I have a First Amendment right to be heard,” Futia said.
When most of us file our federal taxes, the IRS looks at what you agreed to pay and audits you if their number doesn’t match your numbers. Most IRS challenges come in the form of underpayment by those who filed a return.
But for those like Futia who haven’t filed any returns, the IRS really doesn’t know how to proceed. “A lot of us don’t file every year, but I do it on principle. The IRS doesn’t want people to know that, and I challenge the people of Westchester to imagine if you found out that you paid your federal income taxes for all those years and didn’t have to?
“Show me the law that requires me to file a tax return and I’ll do it. I’ll give anyone $10,000 if they can show me a law that requires me to pay my federal taxes on the income,” said Futia, who knows he could go to jail if convicted, but still refuses to pay. I’m willing to take that risk for my children and grandchildren.
And if Futia is somehow “made famous” by what he does, it could lead to more attention from the IRS. Famous Americans who get into trouble with the taxman are prominently audited and prosecuted. Just ask Martha Stewart, Willie Nelson and now Hunter Biden.
Several IRS agents have also joined the We The People movement and agree with Futia that federal income tax is not mandatory for most Americans. Joe Banister, was an IRS investigator who quit and wrote a book, Investigation of the Federal income tax, and won in court against the IRS.
Other IRS agents also resigned and refused to give evidence in protest, but lost in court and spent time in jail, underscoring the danger of fighting the IRS. That’s why most people, companies, and the media don’t want to report or support what Futia and We the People want a discussion on. The slogan “Don’t mess with the IRS” has been followed by millions of Americans for over 100 years.
A logical question to Futia and We the People’s argument is how would we finance our government without an income tax paid by all? Their response is that most education costs are paid for through property taxes. Our roads and bridges are paid for by gas and property taxes, and most of the federal government is not funded by our income tax. In fact, we borrow trillions to run the federal government, so many of the programs that you might enjoy are paid for by future generations out of the federal debt, which now stands at $30 trillion, which they will have to pay.
“Federal income tax revenue collected only pays for federal employee benefits and pensions and federal debt payments,” Futia said.
The other legal argument that Futia and We the People want to make is that the costs of running the federal government should not be paid for through a federal income tax, but by apportioning the costs equally among the states, in the hope that unnecessary spending by the federal government could be found, reduced and halted.
“There’s no law that says the average American citizen has to pay income tax. Most people don’t want to hear about it. They want to live their lives, pay their taxes, and be on their own. But I think a lot of people we wonder where my tax money goes and how much of it is an unnecessary expense.
Twenty years ago, We the People had thousands of members. They placed full-page ads in the NY Times and USA Today, and held events at the National Press Club, televised on C-Span. Then, several roadblocks were placed in their way by the IRS, according to Bob Schulz, founder of We the People Foundation. “By the end of 2002, we had collected thousands of signatures and presented four petitions to the government. The people have a right to answers to our legitimate questions. We never got any answers and in 2003 the IRS summoned our organization’s records and mine,” said Schultz, who had previously gone on a hunger strike to try to bring the cause to light.
Over the next 15 years, the IRS roadblocks seemed to work. There has been little written about the constitutionality of the federal income tax, and We the People has slowed down. But now Futia and We the People are making a comeback, with events to schedule.
In 2007, Futia petitioned the town of North Castle to stop withholding federal income tax from his wages. This request was refused. In 2022, Futia responded to the North Castle Town Board of Trustees, “I have learned of the unconscionable practices of the IRS of harassing, abusing and silencing many accomplished American scholars…and a growing number of people wonder why they should fund a government that violates their rights and then refuses to be held accountable.
With Futia and Schulz in their 80s, now is the time for a showdown with Uncle Sam and the IRS. and Futia believes he has the right to be heard in court based on the last ten words of the First Amendment which gives every citizen the right to be heard “and to seek redress from the government for grievances.” “We have that right, and I challenge the people of Westchester and our elected officials to learn more about it and educate you.”
Futia and We the People will run an announcement next week in our newspapers and online at YonkersTimes.com with more details about the $10,000 reward.
There are many more details regarding Futia and We the People’s arguments, which can be found at We The People of New York, Inc. 2458 Ridge Road, Queensberry, NY 12804. (518)361-8153.