Brown says he won't pay, town will
Concord Monitor | July 22, 2007
Throughout his standoff with federal authorities, tax protester Ed Brown has proudly insisted he had always paid his local property taxes. It was only with the federal government, he said, that he had a problem.
In a brief interview Tuesday, Brown said he has no intention of ever paying his property tax bill because the town said it would not provide emergency services to his home during a music festival he held last weekend.
"The town has violated the contract," Brown said. "They offered no protection to the land or us. They'll pay. They'll pay."
Brown, who with his wife, Elaine, was sentenced earlier this year to five years in prison for crimes related to their unwillingness to pay federal income taxes, has not paid Plainfield a $7,055 tax bill due July 1, according to town records. Brown's 103-acre hilltop parcel with a house on Center of Town Road is assessed at more than $572,000.
"I don't think anybody in the town expected he would," Plainfield Town Administrator Steve Halleran said. "There's no reason a guy who doesn't own his house and is going to prison would pay town taxes."
Though the Browns have said recently that they believe in local taxes, this is not the first time they stopped paying Plainfield. From 1999 to 2003, the Browns refused to pay the school portion of their property taxes, until tax liens threatened the deeds to their home and business, according to newspaper accounts and the Plainfield tax collector. In February 2003, Brown told the Connecticut Valley Spectator that their nonpayment was an act of civil disobedience against a school system that was indoctrinating children in "Communism, humanism, bigtime, homosexuality and cultural-political engineering," in violation of the constitution.
Four months later, the Browns paid their back taxes in order to avoid a violent confrontation with officials, Ed Brown told the Spectator.
About 10 percent of Plainfield's 1,200 taxpayers have yet to pay their first installment, Halleran said. (The second payment is due in December.)
Halleran, citing the potential threat posed by the Browns and their supporters, some of whom are armed, said town police and fire personnel are unlikely to respond to calls for service there in the future.
In March, police and ambulance units responded to a 911 call from the home reporting a medical emergency involving a man Ed Brown would identify only as a friend with cancer. The police also responded when Ed Brown asked them to escort a Fox News crew from the property in January.
The Browns maintain that there is no law requiring anyone pay federal income tax, and they were convicted on charges stemming from the failure to pay taxes on about $1.9 million in income from Elaine Brown's now-defunct dental practice.
If the Browns continue to refuse to pay town taxes, they will add on to about $3 million in fines and back taxes they already owe to the federal government.
The town places a lien on a property if taxes are not paid after a year and assesses penalties of up to 18 percent, Halleran said. After three years, the town can take the property.
Of course, things would work differently with the Browns. Their land will first go to the federal government, Halleran said, and the government will likely sell it to recoup the back taxes, interest and fees. Marshals have already seized the West Lebanon commercial property that housed Elaine Brown's practice.
Tax bills were sent to Plainfield residents on June 1, along with an envelope in which residents could mail checks.
When an employee Town Hall opened the envelope from the Browns, they found, in lieu of a check, a handwritten letter and a set of documents purporting to establish the Browns as "stewards" of the residential property, owned by the "Lord."
"Nay! Nay! The land . . . at 401 Center of Town Road, Plainfield, New Hampshire, and all that is in and upon it, including the Lords bodies, are in the kingdom of heaven, belonging to the Lord, have been claimed by him, and thus can be claimed by no man, nor can any man have beneficial interest in it," the unsigned letter reads. "Stand down and away from the Lords land and the bodies of the Lord. So it is written. So it is done."
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