The Other Tax Revolt

While TV screens have been filled with images of a small plane that flew into an IRS building in Austin, computer screens of antitax crusaders have also been especially active today. Many representatives of groups like Fair Tax or the National Taxpayers Union Foundation are here at the CPAC conference in D.C., which also marks Day One of an Online Tax Revolt, an interactive march on Washington where any tax-reform crusader can pick an avatar and start marching.

Joseph Stack, the pilot of the plane, apparently left a long Web screed attacking the IRS before torching his house and then flying into the IRS offices: "Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let's try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well."

The tax-reform groups here at the conference who spoke with NEWSWEEK say that violence is not the answer, but that something does need to be done.

Ken Hoagland, author of The Fair Tax Solution and campaign chairman of the online tax revolt says of Stack "we have to say how wrong that is, but we also understand some people are being driven to extremes." His organization is calling for lower taxes and what he describes as a more fair tax structure. "The answer is not to crash planes into the IRS and kill innocents, but to take the problem to D.C." His online campaign offers people 15 different avatar choices, "there is a selection, African-American, women, men, different professions" all of whom represent Americans who are fed up with the tax system and want to take action.

Debra Arab of Fair Tax says "we believe that we need taxes for fire departments and schools and roads, but we don't like the way they are being collected." Her organization wants a consumption tax, taxes on new items purchased, but not on salary. "You get to keep what you earn" says Arab. As for taking matters to extremes like Stack, "That's not the way to do it." Jeff Dircksen of the National Taxpayers Union Foundation says "we don't advocate engaging in violence, he was an extremist. Most people are not dealing with audits or other issues, simply with the burden of filing and paying taxes, which is something we are working to simplify." As for Stack, "He was in a bad situation and made a poor life choice. It's best to resolve issues before they escalate to that kind of action."