LYNNLEY BROWNING
The New York Times
April 10, 2008

If you think paying taxes is unfair, illegal or unconstitutional, then watch out — the Justice Department is after you.

Just as the Internal Revenue Service is getting into its perennial tax-season tough talk, Justice Department officials weighed in Tuesday with a vow to ramp up efforts against “tax defiers.”

A tax defier is not a wealthy individual who buys a sophisticated tax shelter in a fraudulent effort to shield legitimate income from taxes. Nor is a defier a taxpayer who has a difference of opinion with the I.R.S. over deductions, or one who challenges specific tax policies enacted by Congress.

A tax defier, according to a Justice Department statement, is someone who “seeks to deny and defy the fundamental validity of the tax laws.”

“The tax defier is someone who rejects the legal foundation of the tax system, despite decades of legal precedent upholding the system’s constitutional and statutory validity, and who takes specific and concrete action to violate the law,” the department’s statement said.

Such people were once more commonly known as tax protesters. A spokesman for Justice said Tuesday that the department official who announced the new program, Nathan J. Hochman, the assistant attorney general for the tax division, “is calling them defiers because he feels ‘protesters’ implies constitutionally protected rights.”

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