Friday, April 22, 2011

Shakedown Nation

True story: Harold & Maude are a forty-something couple with two teenaged kids. Both are educated, both work in IT, both are fairly sophisticated, financially speaking. 

The Road to Hell, by Paul Stevenson.
Back in 2003, they bought a vacation condo, in Mono County, California—you know, where Mammoth Lake and the Mammoth ski resort are located, right next to Yosemite National Park. They bought the condo in mid 2003, then flipped it later that same year—they closed escrow the first week of 2004, with every t crossed, with every i dotted. 

They went on with their lives: Work, vacations, kids, school, job, carpool—same-old-same-old, just like millions of other ordinary citizens. 

Then one day in March of this year, they get a letter—a pretty frightening letter, actually. 

It was from the Department of Finance of Mono County, informing them—in bold and capitalized letters—that they owed a “DELINQUENT AND UNSECURED PROPERTY TAX”. 

The letter went on to inform them that they owed—in bold, italicized, underlined and oversized lettering (I’m not kidding)—$845.99

Guess the letter had to put the figure in bold, italicized, underlined and oversized lettering so as to make it really clear how much was owed—and to whom!

Be advised, a lien has been filed, said the letter in conclusion—in oversized bold lettering. Since they no longer owned the property, Harold and Maude weren’t sure what the county had put a lien on—if not their former vacation condo, then their current home? Their children? Their souls? Who knows—just that something had a lien on it—so you better pay up, buster! Now! 

Or rather, Now!

Lucky Harold and Maude are pack rats—they had all the documentation of the purchase and sale of the vacation condo. After all, they had sold the condo over seven years before

But when they dug up all the paperwork, they saw that the sale had been done properly and without error. Everything in order, no missing documentation—all taxes paid—escrow closed properly: Everything legit to the last dot. I saw all those documents myself—everything was copacetic. 

So they called the Mono County Finance Department—

—and got quite the surprise. 

Turns out that in August 2005—18 months after they closed escrow on the sale of the property—the Mono County tax assessor filed an “adjustment” on the property value of the vacation condo they no longer owned. 

Based on this “adjustment”, they were found to owe $430 for the seven months that they owned the condo back in 2003. What’s more, since they failed to pay it, they now owed an additional $415 in “penalties and late fees”. 

The U.S. Constitution, if you’re curious, is very clear on the issue of retroactive taxation. Article 1, Section 9, Clause 3 states:
No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.
Furthermore, Article 1, Section 10, Clause 1 reaffirms the prohibition on ex post facto laws—including ex post facto taxes

But an ex post facto “adjustment”? Well, the Constitution seems pretty vague about an adjustment—or at least that’s what the California Revenue and Taxation Code seems to think, and would have us all believe. 

According to California’s Tax Code (5.15(b)):
An error or an omission described in subdivision (a) which involves the exercise of an assessor's judgment as to value may be corrected only if it is placed on the current roll or roll being prepared, or is otherwise corrected, within four years after July 1 of the assessment year for which the base year value was first established. [emphasis added]
So in other words, an “adjustment” can be made four years after the tax was assessed. 

The California Tax Code covers itself two paragraphs later, claiming in 5.15(d):
If a correction authorized by subdivision (a) or (b) reduces the base year value, appropriate cancellations or refunds of tax shall be granted in accordance with this division. If the correction increases the base year value, appropriate escape assessments shall be imposed in accordance with this division.
Oh, great: So if four years ago the tax assessor made a mistake and charged you too much, you get a refund. That would seem to balance things out, Karmically speaking, now wouldn’t it?

Question: How often do the tax assessors give out a refund? And then how often do the tax assessors—as in the case of Harold and Maude—claim that they are owed more taxes? 

Maybe it’s just the natural born cynic in me, but I’m guessing refunds are rare—more taxes the norm. 

Harold and Maude argued over the phone that they were no longer owners of the condo—they hadn’t been the owners when the tax assessor retroactively “adjusted” the tax. So why should they be made to pay for something after the fact? Patent bullshit. 

Nevertheless, Mono County insisted—and it turned out, they had filed a claim which appeared on Harold and Maude’s credit report. 

Since their credit was perfect—and since they had sold the condo in 2003—neither had really paid attention to the notice on their credit report. They simply assumed it was a mistake—because after all, they had sold the property, and the only way to close escrow on a property in California is if all taxes on it have been paid beforehand. 

They were now getting an education. 

They argued with the county, back and forth and back and forth, and in the end, Harold and Maude made a cold hard calculation, and then decided to do the rational thing: 

They paid the “adjustment”. 

Of course the “adjustment” wasn’t right or fair. But from Harold and Maude’s point of view—that is, from the point of view of a couple of ordinary people who just want to get on with their lives—it made complete sense: They paid the “adjustment” because it was less costly than paying the lawyers to fight this bullshit. 

After all, saying “Hello” to a decent attorney costs $5,000. Taking this all the way could easily run $15,000 or $20,000. And of course, there was no certainty of winning: The judge might simply cite California’s tax code—which so casually goes around the Consitution—and leave it at that. 

What then, appeal the decision? Another twenty-thirty-forty grand in legal fees—and even if against these impossible odds you actually wind up winning, what do you get? 

A waiver on an $845 shakedown?

They realized it was easier to simply pay the “adjustment” and put it behind them—which they did. 

But the question for all of us should be, How often is this sort of shakedown happening? Because it is a shakedown—there’s really no other way to look at it. 

How many counties and municipalities and States are doing what Mono County did—acting no better than thugs? Especially now, after they got themselves in the nightmare fiscal situation most of them are in—how many are retroactively charging taxes, fees, levies, and then going after innocent citizens they are supposed to serve with threatening letters and the real possibility of a legal nightmare? How many counties and States are using the threat of damaged credit reports to squeeze out a few miserable more bits of money from the people—laws and Constitution and basic morality and decency be damned?

My guess is, A lot. 

Is this how a government of the people, by the people, for the people is supposed to work? By using the law to extort the citizenry? By retroactively charging them “fees” and “adjustments” that are obviously unfair, immoral, and flat-out un-Constitutional?

The word “un-Constitutional” gets tossed around a lot—but here is a case where it is literally un-Constitutional. The Constitution says so right in its first Article! “No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.”

But like so much of American life, these Constitutional guarantees don’t mean squat if the leadership is willing to overlook them, or run roughshod over them—as California clearly is. 

I don’t blame Harold and Maude for acquiescing—they’ve got two kids they’re about to send to college: They can’t afford to bleed themselves dry over an $845 nuisance. 

But then where do we draw the line? When will we draw the line? At random “security checks”? At invasive, needless and pointless gropings at the airport? At government-sponsored torture of foreign citizens? At government-sponsored torture of American citizens? At illegal imprisonment of dissenters born on American soil? At the assassination by the government of its own people? Because this is all happening in the United States today. . . . 

. . . which actually makes me realize: A little shakedown is no big deal, in the grand scheme of things. In the grand scheme of things, America is fucked—Harold and Maude’s little story of legal graft is just one more bit of gravel on that road to hell. 

And we’re all going along on that ride. Tell me when it gets hot enough for ya. 

If you found this piece worthwhile, then check out my debate with Nicole Foss, “Stoneleigh vs. Lira”. Or else check out, “Hyperinflation In America”, my presentation about what to do if and when the dollar collapses.


  1. Gonzalo, you are but a single step from True Enlightenment (:-).

    Once you grasp the essential nature of EVERYTHING that government does is a form of shakedown or racket, all with a monopoly on the use of force and the interpretation of the laws that it itself passes, you will understand, even sympathize with, agorism/anarcho-capitalism/anarchism.

  2. By the way, I am from California, and I don't understand this situation. Prop 13 back in the 1970s mandated a max 2% (or thereabouts) annual increase in property taxes. So I don't understand how this sort of adjustment is even possible. Can you explain more about the background?

  3. When I was a kid in the 60s and 70s this was the greatest country in the world and everyone pretty much new it. They listened to our music, try to dress like us and be American about things.

    Back then we were a good honest moral country that still resonated with chivalric ideals of faith in God, honor on earth and scorn of greed and crunning.

    As the blindfolds are removed and we witness the scale of the looting that has and continues to be done one can only feel sadden.

  4. You can't fight City Hall... You can't fight the Fed... And you can't fight the acronym soup of government agencies fucking with us - DHS, CIA, DOE, etc. You will lose.

    But there is one way to win: Turn your back on the system as much as you can. It's Gandhi-esque in its nonviolence. It's also highly effective.

    Don't take out a mortgage, pay cash. Cut up your credit cards. Bank offshore. Grow and can as much of your own food as possible. Don't watch TV. Don't vote. Get off the grid and go solar. Give up your citizenship and move to a country that treats you better or at least leaves you alone. Try Chile, Paraguay or Singapore.

    There are a million and one things you can do to ignore the kleptocracy by simply not participating.

    I refuse to go through the nuclear x-ray backscatters at airports, not because I even necessarily believe that they cause cancer or am worried about images of my junk being viewed by DHS neanderthals... I do it just to fuck with them. Just to throw a little sand in their gears, just to slow them down and make their day a little worse.

    I always show up early and I'm always polite. I am always as leisurely and slow as possible taking my computer out, shoes and belt off, etc. I completely ignore them when they tell me to hurry up.

    I put my items in as many bins as possible (usually 5 or 6), wait until I get to the very front of the line and at the very last possible second inform DHS that I want to "opt out."

    When you opt out, you can't touch your bins on the other side. That means some DHS flunky has to carry my 6 bins to the pat down area. I make him fully explain every time what the procedure is and I politely ask questions. Then when they start patting me down, I say "mmmm... nice... I like that." Always polite, never threatening.

    If I can fuck with their day, even just a little bit, that's what I'm going to do. If I can make them hate their job just a little bit, that's my goal.

  5. The property assessor in the County where I live, just decided that since everyone in our condo building does not have a sheltered parking space then they are taxable.
    Extra $225 per year.
    No one had ever pay this tax before in the county.
    We don't have a tax problem, we have a spending problem.
    Nothing will change until the dollar collapses.

  6. I used to live in California and the same thing happened to me when I sold one of my investment properties. Two years later I received a tax bill that totaled $1,240 from the Riverside County Tax Assessors office. It was the same situation...I had documentation that the taxes had been paid. The $1,240 included fines that doubled the taxes that were due.

    I offered to pay the taxes minus the fines since I didn't receive any notice before that two years that I owed the taxes. Why should I pay the fines when the tax assessors weren't doing their job of notifying me? The Tax Assessors office refused to reduce the fines stating it was my responsibility to have made sure the taxes had been paid.

    So what did I do? I told them to go pound sand for the total amount of $1,240. I luckily didn't own the property in my personal name. I had put it in an entity for protection purposes. To protect me personally from situations exactly like this. I don't own anything in my personal name, even my primary residence. Reason being is that we live in a country with a corrupt government.

    Lesson to learn is for everyone to cover their ASSets!

    What a sad situation to have to fear our government...

  7. expect a lot of audits this

  8. I don't think it was anymore "moral" back in the 60's and 70's, go take a look at your history books it was just as corrupt then too (Gulf of Tonkin incident as one example).

    I just think we’re finally waking up.

  9. rahbii-
    That was back in 2005...still no audit. The Tax Assessors and IRS are two different departments of the government.

  10. Take out the adjuster, I don't see a problem here.

  11. Gonzalo,
    The Corp USA and all the subsidiaries ie The State of _______, USA are private businesses functioning outside the Constitution of the United States of America, a Republic. They are not bound by the Republic's rules. These corporations make their own rules just like any private corporation.

  12. I'm to the point with the way things are that I would tell Mono county to go to h*** and file a lien and ding my credit. What good is credit going to be when the US Dollar fails anyway? Who is going to care?

  13. GL, on a separate but parallel note, I am in CA, and the city here is so greedy that they continue to approve new tract home development just blocks away from tens (possibly hundreds) of foreclosures. The new construction is increasing the inventory of homes, which is putting more downward pressure on home prices. Why would they do this if it is hurting homeowners? Because they want the taxes and fees associated with this new construction, regardless if it financially destroys families. They need those fees and taxes to continue to grow government in order to pay for fat salaries and unsustainable pensions, its that simple. And all of this while they lay off more police officers and cut core services. It truly is disgusting.


  14. The only way you can settle account is on Income tax day. If the Federal Govt will not defend the constitution then it does not matter how you get even on your taxes be it state of local. They can rob from you, then you have to under report and screw them back. That is how you fight them with an undercover war that they do not realize is happening. They will make crooks out of us all.

  15. GL ... you're getting a little hung up on one local situation. Harold and Maude can fight that problem - it will just cost them time and effort to do it. But at least they have the paperwork.

    YEAH ... of course local cities, state agencies - and all the other bloodsuckers in the system - will be nickle and diming us to death. They're all INSOLVENT. One major traffic ticket in California now costs you anywhere from $300-$500, and that's not even for egregious offence. Parking tickets are going up, parking meters cost more. Sure ... the average citizen is getting sucked dry.

    I hate to say it - but that's gonna' be life as usual for quite a while. We're a bankrupt nation.

    By the way - have you ever noticed that NONE of these petty bureaucracies ever comes to the conclusion that they should just shut down. Permanently. Fire the employees. Nail the doors shut and call it quits. Somehow all these parasites seem to think they should keep existing. But truth is that we just cannot afford all this extra government infrastructure - city, state and federal.


  16. I presently live in California, and the DMV tried to shake me down over some registration fees.
    My registration fees were due on the 9-September 2010 and totaled $416.00
    I went to the local DMV office, which to me resembled a correctional center, I stood in line outside for an hour & 40 minutes, then made it inside to collect a numbered ticket, which afforded me the opportunity to wait several more hours in the company of sweaty Latino’s, soccer mums, and every other miscreant the USA has to offer.
    When my chance arrived, I paid my $416 registration fees, and left.
    So one month later I receive this letter from Sacramento informing me I owe $675.
    How could this be I say to myself? Actually I thought “What the Fuck” Are these Wankers seriously trying to get another $259 out of me!!
    So I phone the DMV hotline: 916-657-8101 and to my surprise I get to listen to music for what seems like eternity.
    When I do finally get through to Shenequa who is clearly from the South, and is having a bad day, she explains that they did not receive payment confirmation from the local DMV until 7-October; hence it was recorded as delinquent/unpaid thus incurring extra fees.

    I told Shenainai that as far as I was concerned it was paid to the DMV and I was going to pay no more.
    Well Sir, she replied, your registration will be suspended if you do not pay.
    I replied, it took the DMV 29 days to receive confirmation that I had paid my $416 registration fees, but only 2 days to send out your letter warning me that more fees were owed.
    I ask to speak with someone who is having a better day, and has some degree of common sense.
    Surely, there must be one working at the DMV?
    I am then transferred to Nancy, she seems nice, and is sympathetic; she agrees that the extra fees are not warranted, but cannot unequivocally state that I will not be forced to pay them.
    The warning on the DMV letter states:
    “The department may pursue the amount through formal collection action and/or civil action which may negatively affect your credit record. In addition, failure to pay the amount shown may result in revocation of your registration and your authority to operate this vehicle in California”
    Basically translated means: We are going to fuck your credit record, and stop you from driving this vehicle to work, therefore we have you held to ransom, so just pay up..NOW
    I received confirmation that the fees were not due, but it took a long time, they were hoping that I would give in.

    And they wonder why California is bankrupt……..And America is Fucked.

  17. Our US ceased to be a democracy or a republic long ago. It is a dictatorship of the rich and crooked, pure and simple. Our Founding Fathers are turning over in their grave. It has gotten so bad, that we now have a "President" that was born in Kenya, a vowed socialist, mentored by the previous head of the communist party in the US, and as crooked as any president we have ever had. Virtually all of the "judges" in this country are crooks, on the take, and only answer to themselves and the rich crooks that appointed them. Our "Congress" is a complete joke, and the local politicians line their pockets with money from the crooks.

  18. @Victor - you forgot to mention the chivalric ideal of segregation.

    @Andy S - are non-sweaty Latino’s also miscreants or is it the fact that they perspire that makes them miscreants? Like, would Gonzalo Lira be considered a miscreant if he would sweat?
    And was the lady from the South (which I am sure is relevant) named Shenequa or Shenainai? I couldn't keep track. Or did you not really care about her name (unlike Nancy - obviously from the North (which I am sure is relevant))?

  19. Doug, Unfortunately GL would be considered a miscreant if he was sat next to me for a long period of time, and stank. Same goes for my mother, brother, sister, or whoever cannot be bothered to take a shower and apply some deoderant.

    As for Shenequa or Shenainai, they could have been called Squirrel Pipkin for all i care, the fact remains that they are not there to serve the people who pay to keep them employed.
    And she did not care two shits that i was being scammed by the DMV she works for.

    And for the record, Nancy was in fact from Florida originally, as is so typical of Americans, she just loved my British accent, and spilled the beans on her own ancestoral past.

  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

  21. Oh Andy, this could be a fun flame war, but I don't want to detract from the real issue here, ie GL needs to get back to writing about hyperinflation and leave the local politics drama alone.
    BTW, while I don't really speak English (being born in the US), I generally do understand it. I'm not sure "miscreant" means what you think it does.

    And a quick follow up to Victor: I'm really just busting your chops but mean no offense. Your comments reminded me of an old Daily Show segment, which I have now looked up for your enjoyment:

  22. The US government (fed, local and state) today is unconstitutional. So just deal with it and enjoy the "free" country that you live in and that makes you to "feel" safe. There is absolutely nothing you can do about it anyways (sheep)....

  23. This reminds me back when I used to drive a motor vehicle.As most of us know that as a car ages,the tabs decline commensurately with the year i.e. Year 2000 car $300.00 dollar tabs , tabs for 2001 $270.00.

    Anyways they were trying to get new construction for an extended Monorail system when I lived in Seattle,to pay for this I found out a very nasty surprise when I went to renew my tabs 2006,the price of my tabs increased for the first time in my short life.

    Totally blew me away,enraged is the only solid word to describe my angst.

    Anyways today I don't have a Cellphone,Car,Home,...... Job:( Non Participation seems to be the only way to actually defer financial liability amongst other things.

    I would really like to fly again , but as a previous commenter stated enough is enough. I have a Passport and would like to use it someday,but alas the situation has deteriorated with such speed just in the last six months that I actually think I might not ever fly again for the rest of my life.

    Anyways I'm optimistic and think we collectively will assert our true power by understanding the nature of the system , and taking steps to minimize that exposure.

  24. There is more behind this article than what appears at the surface. Property tax and income tax are shakedowns we routinely pay, because we always have--as our fathers and grandfathers before us.

    But our great grandfathers didn't, and wouldn't.

    In the coming collapse, people will begin to abandon the money as debt system, because the trade-off Gonzo describes, and the logic of paying the shakedown versus the headache of lawyering up--all that bullshit will be a thing of the past.

    The key is knowing when to abandon the system, and in the world we live in, we will chose to do so only when the cost of obeying the system outweighs the cost of abandoning it.

    That time is coming soon, where the cost of obeying the system will be cost-prohibitive in any self-preservation sense.

  25. Eight years after the first time I lived in California, I was turned down for a credit card. Turned out, even though my tax return had been prepared by an accountant, there was a $20 late fee I had never been notified of that was now up to $100 in interest and further penalties. They had filed a tax lein and now I couldn't get any credit. I called an attorney and was told it would cost $1500 to fight the $100 penalty, so I paid it. That was a big mistake, as I still couldn't get any credit for another SIX years.

    Big insolvent states like California and New York do this all the time when people die and the estates just pay it off, rather than fight it.

    It doesn't matter the cost, you have to fight these things tooth and nail to clear your good name. The next time they filed a tax lein (yes, again!), in error it turned out, I fought it, won and they removed the lien.

    The only other alternative is to take yourself completely off the financial grid, deal in cash only and basically drop out of this corrupt system.

  26. When people have nothing to lose, revolution ensues. Many in this country are reaching that point-no job, no home, no hope, no trust in our "leaders". At that point, what is happening in the Middle East, may very well happen here.

  27. This is just the beginning.
    As the heat gets ratcheted up, the frogs will either sit or be a jumpin'.
    By jumpin' we mean go into the underground economy more and more.

  28. Doug, Not sure how Americans perceive the word "Miscreant" but where I come from it means:

    1. A wrongdoer or Villain
    2. Evil or Villainous
    3. A person without moral scruples
    4. A person whose behavior deviates from what is acceptable.

    The above is a fairly accurate description of your typical DMV clientele.

    Americans are linguistic vandals.

  29. If you think state and local shakedowns - er, taxes - are bad, you ain't seen nuthin' yet. The Fair Tax, the heavily promoted central bank plan to prop up the fiat dollar, will make state and local tax shakedowns look like the Pillow Pets.

    There is so much anti-tax tax sentiment in the country some of its promoters aren't even calling it the Fair Tax any more. Its new moniker? "The Freedom Bill."

    Translation - it will be the final nail in the coffin of what little is left of personal and economic freedom in America.

  30. The word government for Americans is not defined as bloodsucking parasites. Bending over for the Idiots Representing Satan {Federal Reserve} & the crackwhore Congress doesn't change the Truth. When all the "good" braindeadgoy TAXPAYERS watched the Talmudic Terrorists MASSMURDER the Davidians @ the HIGH NOON HOLOCAUST 19 April 1993 & then Blow UP the Murrah Building in OKC {95}& The Murder John John, and then MASSMURDER 3000 people on 9/11, well YOU GOY now live in JEWTOPIA, Enjoy. [Dollar is not defined as Federal Reserve Note]...For the Record.{90% of Jews don't have to be. SEE : Facts are Facts by Ben Freedman}

  31. The only legitimate way we can fight back is by purchasing gold and silver and taking down their fiat dollar currency.

    Crash JP Morgue, Charge Silver!

  32. Evidently no one reading this blog is at all familiar with the U.S. Constitution. While I agree that the story presented is an unconscionable shakedown by Mono County in California, it is in no way impacted by the cited excerpt from the U.S. Constitution -- this refers only to what the U.S. Congress can do and in no way restricts what the State of California can do by way of ex post facto assessments.

    There are way more critical violations of the U.S. Constitution being committed every day by the Bush/Obama administration than California ever dreamed of. Oh, and by the way, Gonzalo, is everyone you know named Harold and Maude? I generally love your stuff, but don't get too carried away. The private sector (in conjunction with the government they purchased) is doing far worse things to us all on a very regular basis.

  33. @Doug & Andy: Thanks for the vocabulary lesson, I always thought "miscreant" meant "a member of Congress".

    PS - What the hell ever happened to the rest of "The Trooper"??????!!!!!!!!!!!!

  34. I'm in BC and the same dirty tricks have reared their ugly head here. Fascist-Flights-of-Fancy. I've retreated to my corner as best I can. All that remains is to sell the car and walk. Not another nickel outta me.
    Ever since the late 70's 'Sunday Shopping' most if not all of these illegitimate agencies need desperately to be shut down, laid off, and locked up, for sure.

  35. I'm unfamiliar with California law, but, could it be possible to advertise for fellow victims and file a class action against the municipality? The object being to make it unprofitable and politically unaceptable for this practice to continue. Getting refunds would be gravy.

  36. It does appear that more and more segments of government are functioning like mafias. Many here have suggested a lower profile; that may save you, but leaves other victims. If most folks lower their profile, the mafias would likely find more overt ways to extract loot. If municipalities piss off citizens enough, citizens might push for disincorporation. Then we mightbe able to live with volunteer fire depts, sheriff's volunteer posses, home and community schools funded by parents and charity, and a lot less officials.

  37. A certain Anonymous said:

    "While I agree that the story presented is an unconscionable shakedown by Mono County in California, it is in no way impacted by the cited excerpt from the U.S. Constitution -- this refers only to what the U.S. Congress can do and in no way restricts what the State of California can do by way of ex post facto assessments."

    The intent of the 14th Amendment (the so-called Privileges or Immunites Clause) was to compel state governments to grant the same rights and immunities that were granted federally by the U.S. Constitution.

    Legal scholars disagree about the precise meaning of the Privileges or Immunities Clause, although there are some aspects that are less controversial than others. William Van Alstyne has characterized the coverage of the Privileges or Immunities Clause this way:

    "Each [citizen] was given the same constitutional immunity from abridging acts of state government as each was already recognized to possess from abridgment by Congress. What was previously forbidden only to Congress to do was, by the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment, made equally forbidden to any state."

    When a state ex post facto tax case finaly gets to the U.S. Supreme Court, who knows what they might decide. After all, they already gutted much of the 14th Amendment’s protections way back in 1873, in the Slaughter-House Cases, 83 U.S. 36.

  38. Another story to make your blood boil, it appears this agent was motivated by envy:

  39. It's simple. Stop cooperating. People like Harold and Maude ruin it for us all. Get yourself in a defensive position: Get out of debt. Get out of real estate and then just stop doing what you're told. If we all do it together there's no way that government can win. Government exists only because we let it. (collectively, tacitly). But that's where they get you. "Professionals" like Harold and Maude don't want to rock the boat because it would disrupt their cushy life and that's more important to them than solving the problem. They're whiners. They deserve to be ripped off. They and people like them are part of the problem, maybe even the whole problem.

    You don't have to pay taxes if you don't want to. Ask any politician. Taxes are voluntary. Taxes must be voluntary or they violate the 14th amendment against slavery. My money represents my labor. If I'm forced to give up my money by the government then they're forcing me to work for them against my will. Isn't that slavery? The govt. can't mandate taxes and they will not throw you in jail for refusing to pay. It's a bluff. If you cheat, that is lie about how much you owe that's another story. That's fraud, an indictable offense.

    If you don't like being oppressed, stop cooperating with your oppressors. Stop cooperating. Stop cooperating. Stop co-operating!!!

  40. Duh, voting in America is all about choosing the person who promises to cut your taxes the most. After 30 or 40 years of that there's bound to be some payback.

    As Andy pointed out, human goodness closely correlates to wearing deoderant, not cutting taxes. You folks have hoisted your own petard.

  41. Most people have payroll taxes so are forced to pay those. On your property I guess you can refuse to pay, but they will actually take action against you for that.

    It's always nice to talk about taxes being voluntary but in actual practical affect most people don't have a choice. You usually file to get a refund, not to pay taxes in the first place.

  42. I love the IRS - here's why.

    Few people realize that you only have a duty to pay your income tax. There is no legal obligation to file or to claim refunds. You only have to pay.

    Because I've known this and done this most of my life I don't really give a damn about the panic deadline each year. (April 15th is for suckers)

    I've been audited twice in my life - the 1st time they claimed I owed them $47,000 - when the audit was complete I wrote them a check for $430.

    The second time they came after me - in 2009 for 2002 tax year - they claimed I owed them $1.2M (futures and options trading)

    After about 40 hours of record retrieval and $1500 in tax attorney fees - the IRS now owes me about $78,000 in income deductions I can take in $3k chunks for the next 26 years.

    In real terms - they gave me $28,000 I didn't really care about. But OK - I'll take it.

    Then yesterday the assholes auto-dialer called me and told me I must call them today. They want to collect $600 in taxes for a winning lottery ticket in 2007. I'm 99.9% certain I've already paid this money.

    But in the process, the IRS ass-clown has to admit to me that should I file 2007,8 and 9 returns and they will have to refund close to $10,000 - so net net of their "collection call" is going to cost them over $9000.

    I love it when the IRS calls - it always ends up putting US dollars in my hand. But what to do with them?

    I bought a 24 pack of toilet paper at Sam's club last month and that should last me for a while.

  43. How do you PAY taxes without filing a return? Do you just use IRS materials to calculate what you owe, write a check and mail it in? Do you put your SS number on the check?

    When will you pay your 2011 taxes? By the end of 2011, or by April 15, 2012? If you don't pay by April 15, 2012, do you add on late fees?

    I commend you for finding a way to pay without having to sign under penalty of perjury, etc.

  44. @Brainworms - Sounds good but too bad you are full of shit. I know people who are in jail for not paying. They have guns and will use them if necessary.

  45. The law does not belong to lawyers. If I was Harold/Maude, I would have barraged that municipality with a whole host of accusations, demands, and bills of my own... and I wouldn't need any ex-post-defacto whatever to depend on, either. Whatever human being mailed that bill and accompanying letter out to Harold and Maude can be held personally accountable for multiple human rights violations.

    ... but only if Harold and Maude bother to figure out what their rights are and how the law works.

    It's like America WANTS to destroy itself.

  46. The solution is the jury pool. Start dragging some big wigs out into the street and cut their heads off and get acquitted by 'their peers' will go a long way. It is our duty to be defiant to a corrupt gov't. Once the jury pools are set, it is just a matter of time before those in power get the fact that we just beat them at their own game.

  47. What used to be reasonable registration 'fees' and traffic 'fines' have long ago become TAXES, hiding in plain sight, as federal and state agency-cabals previously built their bureacracies, but they now fight desparately to preserve their fiefdoms as their view of the fatal consequences of the 100 year credit-collapse slowly comes into focus.

  48. The solution is simple and can best be summarized in the words of Scar as spoken to Simba (The Lion King): "run away and never return". In other words, get the hell out out (of the country) before they bleed you to the point where you're too weakened to do anything, except to act as a human bio-battery in sustaining the machine (The Matrix).

  49. Wow.

    The cash flow coming in to the IRS from quarterly payments, FICA, unemployment insurance, and Medicare must be dropping like a rock. The sign of desperation? We are being encouraged in the comments in this very popular blog to not file for our federal tax refunds.

    Things must be much worse than we think. I'm glad I have lots of popcorn for the upcoming show.

  50. In the past, those wild and crazy Americans turned their domiciles into ATM machines to fuel the budget deficits of their 'entitlied with expectations' lifestyles.....Today, we have the government bureaucrats assuming that the assets of tax payers are their own personal ATMs.

    Tax payer's houses are the perfect money making machines for the bureaucrats. Tax payers are chained to their houses because of the need for shelter, sentimentality, and the lack of liquidity and the fact that most owe more than they can sell it for.

    Expect higher property taxes each year as values of property goes down in an attempt to fund state and municipal government entitlements. The docile, distracted, demoralized, debt addicts of America will endure this for many years - so methinks.

  51. I was charged for a $20,000 state income tax bill for the year after moving out of California. Ultimately, I didn't end up paying, but it took weeks of sending documents and waiting on hold with the tax board before the issue was resolved. Guilty until proved innocent.

    Now it will be a cold day in Hell before I consider moving back.

  52. That's it Harold and Maude...get back in your box...and yield/behave.
    If you don't then the ......County government is coming after you. Failing that the .....State is coming. Failing that ....the US Fed is ready and waiting.
    Typical of the the BIG BROTHER approach. "We have a very big stick and we're not afraid to use it". "Do what we expect all citizens to do". Conform & obey.
    "You may be a US citizen, but that doesnt mean you deserve to be treated with any respect or dignity or have any rights or privileges". Oh and btw "we can tax your ass to hell" if and when we need to. Besides we need to keep all our staff fully employed to justify the budget deficits and growing debts.
    They just make a rod for their own back...the govt. that is.
    What goes around comes around.... when the shoe is on the other when those same staff working the various governmental agencies are laid off and then are faced with the very same issues that the rest of the population faces.
    Fragmentation of society and mistreatment of its citizens at this level leads to social unrest. Expect more of the same in the desperate days/weeks/months/years ahead.

  53. The ex post facto prohibition usually doesn't apply to taxes. Justice Holmes, IIRC, correctly is frequently quoted bt the government in these cases. That said, there are a lot of other problems with a post- sale re-assessement, but $900 is in that range of more-trouble-than-it costs-to-pay.

    BTW, I researched the EPF topic heavily back in 1993 while I was trying to get onto law review and it's a very complicated area where the only simple prohibitive rule is when EPF laws criminalize past behavior. Civil liability is relatively easy for governments to retroactively authorize - key areas are environmental clean-up and workplace saftey.

    - MinnItMan

  54. A bureaucrat woke up one day with nothin’ much to do
    He tried to put his street clothes on but couldn’t find his shoe
    The night before he tied one on now cobwebs filled his head
    By afternoon he called in sick and then went back to bed
    The next day he felt shaky but he made it off to work
    And voted to increase his pay and take another perk
    Although the people cried out loud and told him what to do
    Instead of tryin’ to cut the cost he increased revenue
    Yippee Yi Yo Yippee Yi Yeah
    Tax hikes are on the way and he said, tax’em tax’em tax’em
    Though it breaks their back some
    Tax’em where they run where they hide
    In winters freezin’ weather if we can’t tax their sweater
    We’ll try to tax the hair off their hide
    My Congressman just voted yes to increase foreign aid
    Although our nations infrastructure’s worn and torn and frayed
    While veterans and nations son’s become the unemployed
    Since NAFTA passed those aliens will gladly fill the void
    Yippee Yi Yo Yippee Yi Yeah
    Vengeance is on the way I say……
    We hang’um hang’um hang’um till their toes are danglin’
    Stretch those traitors necks hang’um high
    Before they up and bust us lets use old fashion justice
    Go out and get a rope and hang’um high
    My Senator just voted yes to pass the "Brady Bill"
    He thinks if he can take my gun it’s him who won’t be killed
    He doesn’t give a hang about the crime he helps create
    As long as bribes keep comin’ in American’s can wait
    Yippee Yi Yo Yippee Yahweh
    Vengeance is on the way it’s time we hang’um hang’um hang’um
    Till their toes are danglin’
    Stretch those traitors necks hang’um high
    Before they up and bust us let’s use old fashion justice
    Go out and get a rope and hang’um high
    Check ‘em out size ‘em up look ‘em up find ‘em out
    If they’re in vote ‘em out if they’re out hunt’em down
    Drag’em into the court every traitorous one
    Use your vote like a rope hang’um high
    hang’um high, Yeah!

  55. I told my husband the other day that everything is a mafia-like shakedown. Very Chicago politics these day. You want to do business, you gotta pay. And suddenly I'm noticing an increase in reality shows featuring mafia wives. Lindsay Lohan is to play a mafia daughter in her next role if she gets out of da joint. Predictive program abound.

  56. I own apartments in Ft Worth TX. I get shaken down all the time, for a lot more money than Harold & Maude. In Ft Worth, kangaroo courts run by non-judges ignore all of corporate law to raise funds for the city. The US is devolving...

  57. There is no way out. Get yourself and your financial assets out of the USA as soon as possible...while you still can, the doors are closing.
    I liquidated all of my property and permanently moved to Singapore. Was still able to legally transfer all of my financial assets, cash and gold over here and convert to Singapore dollars.
    I'm afraid my mother country is in a downward death spiral; my chief concern is the future of my grandchildren, they will be amongst the first generation to have to endure a much lower standard of living than their parents.
    Singapore may be a bit authoratative,which is no problem for law abiding folks, the cost of living is a bit high, but they are financially solvent with a robust economy. All in all a wonderful place to live
    The USA is a "Brave New World" brother.

  58. Well Canada is far from being utopian... but boy am I glad I live here and not in the US.

    A friend, who recently returned from visiting his daughter & son-in-law in California, told me he "couldn't believe how bad things are down there".

    I'm beginning to wonder if the walls & fences that Homeland Security wants along the borders will ultimately be to stop people from fleeing, not entering, the US.

  59. This is WHY States and countries are and Will fall to the waste side,ever ask your self "How many laws,Federal or State are written to instill our RIGHTS??? They make laws to take away never grant.Sheep wake up!! Besides the couple had another option NOT PAYING IT and saying NO! What it is going to ruin their credit?If everyone quits reacting to their fear cards GAME OVER! State = CHECK MATE

  60. @Anonymous Canadian: i think it will be a long long time before we are trying to bust through fences to get to Tijuana and Juarez. Maybe Canada should start building a wall along it's own southern border if you think US citizens will flee on foot. justsayin'

  61. Our forefathers picked up guns and fought to the death because of the same BS we're dealing with now. REVOLUTION!!!

  62. I live in California and renewed my driver's license last year. They held it up until I paid some random late fee from over 10years ago that I already paid. It was only about $50 so I paid it and went on my way, but it was total bullshit.

  63. Oh, I've been more than "fed up" for decades. And I've done something about it many times, though I'm not about to explain in any public forum what that means.

    The first thing people need to understand is the nature of reality and the nature of [their own] consciousness. Near the top of that list they need to learn to reliably perform the most important single process of consciousness - the ability to distinguish real ("existent") from fiction ("non-existent"). I can assure you, 99.999% of humans cannot perform this crucial process of consciousness worth a damn.

    For example, how many people understand that no "government", "corporation" or "organization" exists? And this is true even though the very most fundamental law correctly identifies all organizations as "fictitious entities". Well, a "fictitious" entity is obviously not a real entity, no more than SantaClaus or the ToothFairy fictions are real. The very law at the basis of government admits "all this is totally bogus". This is part of the reason principles like "consent of the governed" arise, because the so-called "organizations" that "govern" man do not exist. What does exist is the human who claims he "acts on behalf of government", which is equivalent to saying he "acts on behalf of nothing" (or a lie).

    Humans need to get real, understand the nature of reality, understand that nature of consciousness (at least the fundamentals), and start acting on their understanding. If humans did get real, wake up and learn to perform valid conscious processes, virtually every government worker today would be gunned down for egregious crimes against humanity. And the argument "it isn't my fault because the government told me to do it" would be clearly understood by everyone to be 100% bogus. Everyone would understand that "any act that is not ethical on behalf of a real, living, breathing human being is not ethical on behalf of a zero/nothing/fiction".

    What are the most destructive forces on earth today? Answer:

    predators DBA governments
    predators DBA corporations
    predators DBA central banks

    Well, predators deserve to be treated like predators... either locked in cages or exterminated. This applies to the above predators even more than wild animals, for they cause vastly more damage.

    Unfortunately, humans have been brainwashed by the predators-that-be and predator-class to invest all their time, effort and resources into moaning, groaning, bitching and voting about the endless abuses of the predators... which does nothing except waste the time, effort and resources of those who know something needs to be done.

    Humans need to forget words and return to actions. Humans need to walk the walk, not talk the talk. Talk has achieved nothing, and will continue to achieve nothing. No predator has ever voluntarily stopped his destruction because somebody talked to them, and they never will.

  64. I'm not sure if someone has already made this comment because I don't have the time to read all of the comments, but I definitely would have paid that $800 in pennies, delivered in a very dramatic fashion directly to the office of whichever asshole is in charge.

  65. A Visual Representation Of This Entire Blog-

  66. My city government is threatening to condemn my house, apply a $6500 vacant house fee, and subsequent inspection and permit fees, because I'm not paying CenterPoint Energy to keep the gas on in the summer.

    I'm calling for revolution.

  67. Judging by the comments on this thread so far, I'm surprised the USA is holding together at all. It's difficult to see how the country will avoid a collapse in its tax base. You would think that Congress would be taking emergency action to put in place a flat tax policy, for both individuals and corporations, as a last-ditch effort to stabilize the income of the Government.

    I hope we maintain some civility and compassion in our society - as we go forwards into an uncertain future. It appears to be unavoidable that there will be major cutbacks in Gov't support for all kinds of social services.


  68. my eyes narrowed while reading this

    how in satan's bleeding, maggot-infested anus is it productive to hinder legitimate human beings like that?


    i don't know

    and i don't expect you to know, either

    j.j., pittsburgh

  69. Hi Gonzalo,
    The California state Franchise Tax Board (California's IRS) shook me down for $1400 on my 2009 tax return. My CPA independently received
    another expert opinion on the supposed tax owed, and it was agreed that the tax was not owed. Nonetheless, I paid up, because it would cost at least $10,000 to pursue the matter and the Franchise tax board sent me a impending lien notice to lien "real estate, bank accounts, etc. within 30 days". After writing out the check, I moved: myself, bank accounts, business and brokerage accounts to Nevada. Simple and effective.

  70. PeteCA,
    Major cutbacks in social services have already begun - and not just in California.

    A rural county in Georgia recently delivered the bad news to its EMS staff - no more overtime and the elimination of some supervisor positions. The entire staff resigned in protest. The county now contracts for EMS services from a neighboring county, significantly reducing its 911 response time.

    Because of rising crime and a decimated city budget, last week the US Army began patrolling the streets of Columbus, Georgia. This is not the National Guard, which is under the civil authority of state governors, but the US Army, under the federal authority of military commanders.

    In theory at least, police are trained to protect and serve. The military is trained to subjugate and control.

    The slide is already under way. It will continue. It will not be pretty.

    K Smith

  71. OT: Looks like Ackerman is now a hyperinflationist:

  72. Government thugs are going to continue to shake us down until we grow some cojones and make it clear that we will accept their plundering no longer. Hope that day comes soon!

  73. Gonzalo: What are you talking about, injustice...? Come on, give me a mother fucking break.... It's every man for himself bro... Your forecast of hyper inflation is here and now.... Check it out... It's all over... Done... You know that... We don't need to get all jacked out of shape because our illusions crashed into reality... Take it easy man... Nice couple with two nice kids doing everything right, seeking and getting your approval, and then getting ripped off... I know a couple just like that and they were murdered along with their two kids in Mexico by the Federales... Please, you've had it too easy bro... You ain't seen nothing.... Yet...

  74. I haven't had time to read all the comments, but the part about Article 1, Section 9 clause 3 applies only to Congress. Someone may have brought this up already. Having said that I think the rest of your comments are spot on.

  75. Great to live in Mono County, California. One of my dream country to go with.


  76. Just got my tax assessment for 3 pieces of raw land I own in Costilla County, Colorado. Assessments went up 50%, 50%, and 30% since last year's valuation. Government is out of control, "Shakedown Nation" is an appropriate label.

  77. You people in CA watch out or get out. HAARP can cause an earthquake along your coastline (followed by a tsunami) just like it did with Japan. Since,according,to,HAARP,the two-day operation was under the supervision of the US Army and Navy, it must have been ordered or condoned by their Commander-in-Chief! Get out quick before He takes a dislike to CA! - JDoN


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