The New York Times
November 27, 2003
Mistrial Is Declared in Tax Withholding Case
By DAVID CAY JOHNSTON
Jurors in Fort Worth failed to reach a verdict Tuesday in the trial
of a Texas businessman who has not withheld taxes from his workers'
paychecks since 2000, the second significant setback in four months
for the federal government in tax cases.
The defendant, Richard M. Simkanin, 59, who says he is a citizen of
the Republic of Texas and not of the United States, was returned to
jail, where he has been held since July, until a new trial begins in
Federal District Court.
The jury deliberated for eight hours, sending out nine notes asking
questions, before Judge John McBryde declared a mistrial.
In August, Vernice Kuglin, 58, a FedEx pilot, was acquitted on six
counts of tax evasion. She testified that she wrote letters asking
the Internal Revenue Service what law required her to pay taxes. Her
lawyer said the letters, which were not answered, showed that Ms.
Kuglin lacked criminal intent.
The acquittal does not excuse the taxes owed by Ms. Kuglin, which the
I.R.S. is trying to collect.
Mr. Simkanin made similar arguments when he testified at his one-day
trial on Monday. Before he stopped withholding taxes from workers at
his Arrow Custom Plastics in Bedford, Tex., Mr. Simkanin obtained
written opinions from a lawyer and a certified public accountant that
he was not required to withhold, his lawyer, Arch D. McColl 3rd of
"He sincerely believes he does not have to withhold," Mr. McColl
said, citing a Supreme Court standard for acquittal of tax evasion.
The accountant's opinion was written by Wayne Paul, the brother of
United States Representative Ron Paul, a Texas Republican who
contends that requiring record keeping for tax purposes violates the
13th Amendment, which prohibits slavery.
Mr. Simkanin had been a prominent figure in the so-called tax honesty
movement, which asserts that most Americans have been tricked into
Mr. Simkanin, who has no prior arrest record, is being held because
of threats an informant said he made to kill federal judges. Mr.
McColl said a disbarred lawyer was the source of the comments, which
he called fabrications.