The IRS refused to answer her questions

by Vin Suprynowicz
Las Vegas Review Journal, Las Vegas, Nevada


A "federal jury Friday found FedEx pilot Vernice Kuglin not guilty of evading income taxes on $920,000," reported Shirley Downing of the daily Memphis Commercial Appeal on Aug. 9.

"I think it is safe to assume the IRS will attempt civil collection, but she is not guilty of tax evasion," said a defense attorney.

Ms. Kuglin, 58, was charged with six counts of tax evasion that could have meant up to 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines, Downing reported. The government accused her of filing false W-4 forms for the period from 1996 to 2001.

"Kuglin, a pilot for FedEx since 1985, said she had paid taxes like anyone else for most of her life," the Commercial Appeal reported. "But about 10 or 11 years ago, she began to question the federal tax system. She began to read court documents, legal opinions and the federal tax code.

"She said she found what she felt were contradictions. She wanted to know where in the federal tax code it said she was liable for taxes. Kuglin wrote the Internal Revenue Service twice in 1995 with questions but said she didn't get a response."

Ms. Kuglin had asked the IRS in writing whether the payment of taxes was "voluntary" or by "voluntary compliance." The IRS refused to answer her letters.

"Defense attorney Larry Becraft of Huntsville, Ala., said Kuglin decided mandatory payment of income taxes 'did not apply to her.' "

She filed "exempt" on her W-4 forms, which means she got to take home nearly all of her paycheck.

"A highly trained and educated federal prosecutor in Memphis was unable to convince 12 American citizens that Vernice Kuglin was required to pay federal income taxes," reports Carl Worden of Sierra Times ( "He was clearly unable to produce a single section of the Tax Code to that end, and the jury was unanimous in clearing Kuglin of all charges against her. ...

"Jurors tend not to be very sympathetic with tax scofflaws, since each one of them is also a taxpayer and they understandably feel resentment towards anyone not paying 'their fair share,' " Mr. Worden concludes. "So in order for this federal jury to completely vindicate Kuglin, the government's failure to prove their case against her had to have been clear and unequivocal."

After the verdict, Mr. Becraft told the Commercial Appeal that the federal tax code is a confusing conglomeration that "at best is a walking due process violation."

The government never attempted to document his client's liability for the tax?

"They did it by means of a special agent who took the stand and went through the 1040 instruction booklet," Mr. Becraft explained. But the instruction booklet only tells a "taxpayer" what he or she should do, of course -- it never defines who is subject to the tax.

How did Ms. Kuglin come to be educated about the true nature of the income tax -- well-read enough that she named the Pollock and Brushaber Supreme Court cases when interviewed on the Fox News Network's "Hannity & Combs" later that week?

"Vernice started one night in '92. She was watching TV and the Libertarian convention was on. That got her interested in attending Libertarian Party conventions, where she started learning some stuff about taxes ... . She got a copy of the (federal tax) code and she drew certain conclusions," Mr. Becraft explains.

"And by the fall of '95 after she'd been not filing for several years but been subject to withholding, she wrote two letters to the IRS, in which she asked what is the statute that makes (her) liable to file an income tax return and what statute makes (her) liable to file a form 1040.

"She wrote (but) there was no answer. So she wrote again in November, she said if you don't answer I'm going to draw my own conclusions, so right after that, for 1995, she filed exempt with her employer. ...

So: Are other tax resisters any safer today?

"The only thing a jury decides in a criminal case is the guilt or innocence of the accused," Mr. Becraft replies. "This verdict simply means that Vernice is not guilty of tax evasion for those years, nothing more nor less than that."

I spoke to Ms. Kuglin on Aug. 17.

"I was very nervous, I had butterflies in my stomach," she said. "Then during the cross examination, when I tried to answer a question, as soon as I started to talk about the letters I had sent, the U.S. would interrupt my answer and go to a sidebar. Talking to them later, at least one juror changed his opinion, because he wondered what they didn't want them to know.

"I ended up with some really awesome attorneys. We had a really fair trial. ... I just told my story. I believe that the judge gave very good jury instructions, and Larry differentiated for them between the civil aspects of it and the `criminal willfulness.' I think the two letters I sent were very powerful."

Letters containing questions that have still not been answered?

"No they have not, and as Larry said in closing, had the IRS answered my questions in August and September of 1995 when I asked them, we would not be in court. They have not answered them and they cannot answer them. I believe no American is liable for the income tax. There is nothing that would make an American citizen liable for the individual income tax."

Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Review-Journal and author of the books "Send in the Waco Killers" and "The Ballad of Carl Drega." His Web site is


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