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The United States government sought an injunction requiring Robert Schulz and his nonprofit organizations dedicated to "'institutionalizing' citizen vigilance and governmental accountability" to remove information promoting the non-payment of income taxes from the organizations' websites www.givemeliberty.org, www.wethepeoplecongress.org, and www.wethepeoplefoundation.org.
The websites provided information suggesting that the federal income tax is voluntary, that the Sixteenth Amendment was not properly ratified, and that citizens should choose not to pay taxes. The websites provided, among other things, a set of materials called a "Tax Termination Package" (offered for free but with a suggested donation) that provided step-by-step instructions on how to avoid paying taxes.
The United States sued Schulz and the organizations, alleging that their behavior breached the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). Specifically, the U.S. alleged that defendants made false or fraudulent statements regarding tax benefits in connection with the sale of a plan or arrangement in violation of 26 USC § 6700, and knowingly prepared a document which would result in understatement of another person's tax liability in violation of IRC § 6701. The U.S. relied on the court's power to grant an injunction under IRC § 7408 to restrain behavior that breaches the above provisions.
Defendants claimed that the publication was protected by the First Amendment. They also claimed that the government had failed to show how the publications breached the tests set out in the cited provisions of the IRC.
On August 9, 2007, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York granted the government's motion for summary judgment, accepting that information helping people to evade income tax did not merit First Amendment protection. The court issued an injunction ordering defendants to remove "all tax-fraud scheme promotional materials, false commercial speech concerning the internal revenue laws, and speech likely to incite others imminently to violate the internal revenue laws” from their websites. The judge did not call for the websites to be taken off the Internet.
The injunction also required defendants to reveal the names, e-mail addresses, social security numbers, and other personal information of people who obtained their information packs to the Intenral Revenue Service . On the defendants' motion, the court later stayed this part of the injunction pending appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
On February 22, 2008, the Second Circuit affirmed the District Court's decision and ordered defendants to provide the requested information about the individuals who received the tax packets.
NY Times: Judge Orders a Web Site Selling Tax-Evasion Advice to Close
Online Liability Blog: Mess with the IRS? Online or Offline, First Amendment Protections are not Unlimited
We the People Foundation: Primary Legal Documents in IRS's 6700 Civil Lawsuit Against We The People (contains comprehensive collection of court documents from the case)
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