More than 150,000 people filed bogus tax returns last year, reflecting the apparent proliferation of tax evasion and refund schemes that have been promoted for decades by antigovernment ideologues and their allies.
In papers filed to support a suit brought against a Florida accountant, the Internal Revenue Service said that the 152,000 Americans filed unsupported returns claiming they owed no taxes or were owed refunds, The New York Times reported.
The IRS also said 1,500 businesses had stopped withholding taxes from their employee checks, as required by law, or filed returns showing zero income.
The returns used various bogus tax protest arguments, including the ideas that income taxes are voluntary; that only foreign corporations are taxable; and that blacks are eligible for $43,209 apiece as a reparation for slavery.
The Florida suit was brought against Douglas Rosile, who allegedly helped 174 clients evade some $29 million in taxes. One of his clients is the actor Wesley Snipes, who filed an amended return listing zero income and asking for a $7.4 million refund. Snipes' original return reported $19.3 million in income.
There was no record of legal action against Snipes.
But there was legal action against alleged tax protesters elsewhere. In Oregon, for instance, a federal jury convicted six members of the Christian Patriot Association of helping 900 people hide $186 million in assets from the IRS. And in California, long-time tax protester Lynne Meredith was indicted on similar charges. She is also accused of personally earning $6.2 million and paying no taxes.