Judge Orders a Web Site Selling
Tax-Evasion Advice to Close
By DAVID CAY JOHNSTON
Published: August 30, 2007
A Web site that sells materials stating that
individuals can legally stop paying taxes has been
shut on the order of a federal judge.
Judge Thomas J. McAvoy, a senior judge in the
Northern District of New York who issued the order
on Aug. 9, wrote that the First Amendment did not
protect the two organizations that operate the Web
site, or their founder, because the site incited
criminal conduct. Judge McAvoy ruled that some
people who went to the Web site stopped paying
taxes, causing the government harm.
Judge McAvoy also ordered that the names, addresses,
telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and Social
Security numbers of every person who received
materials on how to stop paying taxes be turned over
to the government.
This information would make it easy for the Internal
Revenue Service to identify people who followed the
illegal advice and for the Justice Department to
prosecute them for tax crimes.
The civil court order is one of at least 245
permanent injunctions obtained by federal
prospectors that prohibit individuals and
organizations that deny the legitimacy of the tax
laws or who sell tax evasion schemes from marketing
Robert L. Schulz of Queensbury, N.Y., the founder of
both organizations behind the Web site — the We The
People Foundation for Constitutional Education and
the We The People Congress — posted the court order
at the Web site givemeliberty.org, and closed the
rest of the site even though he said yesterday that
the order did not specify that he do so. He also
said he had filed an appeal with the United States
Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
His organization rose to prominence with a series of
full-page newspaper ads, starting in 2001, asserting
that the government tricks people into paying taxes.
The ads solicited donations, which it said were
Judge McAvoy, quoting from a declaration that Mr.
Schulz sent to the court, said that Mr. Schulz wrote
that he started “operation stop withholding” as “a
national campaign to instruct company officials,
workers and independent contractors on how to
legally stop wage withholding.”
In a 25-page decision, the judge wrote that
“undisputed evidence” established that Mr. Schulz
and his organizations “knew, or had reason to know,
that their statements were false.”
He said that because Mr. Schulz was taking $20
payments for a package of materials that supposedly
showed how to legally stop paying taxes, the Web
site could be shut down as commercial speech that
urged criminal conduct.
Even if the Web site was not commercial in nature,
Judge McAvoy said, it could be shut because people
who followed the advice at the Web site engaged in
“The First Amendment does not protect speech that
incites imminent lawless action,” the judge wrote,
citing a 1969 Supreme Court decision.
Because Mr. Schulz and his organization “are not
merely advocating, but have gone the extra step in
instructing others how to engage in illegal activity
and have supplied the means to do so” the judge
added, “their speech may be enjoined.”