Irwin A. Schiff doesn't want to BE President. He wants to RUN for President.
And if the Las Vegas-based income tax-resister who hopes to be Libertarian Party candidate for
President in 1996 had his way the IRS would be running, too? for its life.
When Schiff asks New Hampshire Libertarians for their support during a luncheon address in Concord
today, he'll do so by telling them why the federal income tax is illegal, a contention he substantiates with
references to wording on the 1040A income tax form.
Schiff acted on these beliefs by not filing tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service, which landed
him in federal prison for four years and cost him his business and marriage.
The time he served in Danbury and three other federal prisons intensified, rather than discouraged, his
battle stance. Schiff writes books, makes speeches, and spars on radio talk shows, a man driven by the
conviction that government illegally extorts income taxes from the people, and gets away with it
because federal judges and prosecuting attorneys are corrupt.
Schiff isn't the only Libertarian vying to be the party's Presidential nominee. Harry Browne, an
investment adviser in Tennessee is running, as are Rick Tompkins and Douglas Ohmen, the two who will
not be at the state convention today.
Browne's message is more traditional Libertarian than Schiff s. "The principal theme of my talk on
Sunday," he said last week will be Americans now want a Libertarian society. Libertarians are now the
mainstream. We have won the educational battle. Now we have to win the political battle."
Browne, 62, says, "If you ask people?store clerks, barbers, taxi divers, anyone?whether they want
more government, less government, or what we have now?at least seven out of ten will say they want
less. Their reasons and hopes may be different from ours in some ways, but they want to move in the
same direction ... The desire for less government isn't a passing fad."
Stiffs major crusade is persuading the public that federal income tax filing is not compulsory. He cites
the IRS commissioner's message on page three of 1040A form which begins, "Thank you for making
this nation's tax system the most effective system of voluntary compliance in the world." Schiff says the
operative word is "voluntary."
Schiff offers $5,000 to anyone who can cite a law that says income taxes have to be filed and paid. He
says he's made that offer for years and nobody has found such a citation.
Schiff, who holds a degree in economics, says the word voluntary is used for a reason. "Voluntary" says
the IRS may give the information to the Department of Justice and other federal agencies, as provided by
law. So, when you give information to the government you can tell them it's okay to use this information
against you? Could the government REQUIRE you to do that? No. The only way is to voluntarily do it."
Schiff said you don't have to go far to witness the implications of the IRS providing information to law
enforcement agencies. Newspaper files substantiate that a Chester couple was convicted last spring in
U.S. District Court. District of New Hampshire, of evading more than $100.000 in income taxes. Stuart
and Kathie (Schneider) Tulchinsky had participated in a tax protest by throwing income tax forms into
Boston Harbor. The couple also owned a Nashua store that sold drug paraphernalia. Their attorney,
William A.Cohan of California, said the case set a precedent, at least in New Hampshire, that the IRS may
serve as an information gathering agency for other federal agencies such as the Justice Department.
Schiff wants the party to adopt a new platform that includes "pledging ourselves to help expose the
illegal, unconstitutional, and tyrannical manner by which the federal government has been extorting
income taxes from the American public....so that those Americans who want to pay it may do so, but
those who do not wish to pay it will not be illegally prosecuted or otherwise harassed for not having done
"On Sunday," he said, "I will probably criticize Harry Browne because he talks about abolishing the
income tax, and that's a dishonest, hypocritical approach because there is no income tax to abolish."
"I don't tell people not to pay," he said several times during the interview. "I just tell them there is no
Schiff also wants the party platform to demand that the Federal Reserve Board be abolished; declare
paper money worthless because the constitution only permits authorization of gold and silver coin; end
foreign aid because it is not authorized in the constitution, and remove the immunity from civil suit and
criminal prosecution that federal judges now enjoy.
In a telephone interview, Browne said his goal as President would be to strip government of all its
powers except the "absolute defense of the country, nothing to do with bringing peace to Bosnia or
"And I would disentangle us from all foreign treaties and peace-keeping operations. NAFTA and GATT
serve no purpose at all. You don't tear down other people's protectionist barriers by treaty, you do so by
tearing down your own."
Libertarians generally agree on the principle that the least government is the best government In recent
interviews New Hampshire Libertarians deeded their own more specific reasons for becoming
members of the party.
"For me, the central principles are designing a society where fraud and force are not allowed," said
Miriam B. Luce, whose run for governor attracted enough voters to assure ballot status for the
"The major issue for the Libertarians is convincing the electorate that the Republicans are not getting
the job done, in New Hampshire or anywhere," said Luce who was appointed to the state liquor
commission by Republican Governor Merrill.
"Their rhetoric is closer to what the Libertarians are looking for than the Democrats', but their
performance falls short," she said.
Steven Winter, an American Airlines pilot who lives in Newbury, is a supporter of Harry Browne. "There
are people who are not happy with the two major parties," he said last week. "Whether the Libertarian
Party will be the party that picks up that disaffection and runs with it, I don't know. We are going to have
to field a very exciting candidate who can get media attention. We have a good message. We just need
to get the message out."