As happens every few months, I find myself at a crossroads. Rebecca and I spent a few months traveling around, visiting people, riding our bicycles, and ultimately ended up in Portland, Oregon. Now we’re starting to get settled; we live in an awesome house with an even more awesome backyard full of edible delights, our roommates are awesome, and we’re both spending hours every day reading, writing, and bettering ourselves.
Getting adjusted back to life not on the road was a little difficult, but we finally feel as though we’re coming to the end of the transition. This hasn’t been the first time we’ve had to re-adjust, but in my opinion it has been the hardest. Still, the life we are living now even if it’s not on the road is pretty damn awesome.
Really, the only thing in my life that hasn’t been awesome for the past few months was the fact that I had to make monthly payments to the IRS. I ran a dispensary for three years, and rules for dispensaries (since they are illegal federally) are different than most other businesses. In the year 2010, I made a gross salary of around $30,000; at the end of the year I owed $12,000 in taxes. This is why Rebecca and I couldn’t go to South America, because we are attempting to pay off this debt. We get assessed interest and late fees every month; even though we pay it by each month’s due date, it was technically due in 2011. At the rate we’re going, it will take us decades to pay off.
For the past few months I’ve been able to push this mostly out of my head. From time to time I’m forced to think about it or have a conversation concerning the IRS and I get angry all over again, but in the end I accept it (with a plan in place that I’m unable to discuss in such a public forum). Then last Monday came and along with it a call from the IRS informing Rebecca (they didn’t have my contact information) that we are being audited for that same year, 2010.
First we got in touch with our old accountant, the one we fired in 2011 because of the horrible job he did on our tax return. He told us he wanted thousands of dollars before even considering taking on our audit. This was right after admitting he had forgotten to make the amendments we asked him to make two years ago. Needless to say, I told him to have a nice day. After that, we called our current CPA, the one we are paying to do last year’s taxes. She informed us that she had been intimidated by the feds. That they had made threats to CPA’s, promising arrest if they helped any federally illegal business- she quit. The other CPA’s we contacted told us that it would be expensive to hire them, and the end result is with a doubt, more debt (potentially in the six digits). That’s right, I could owe over $100,000 on a $30,000 salary.
So, here we are trying to figure out what the fuck to do. If we had ten to twenty thousand dollars, we could probably hire a lawyer and get out of most of it, since it is completely and obviously biased. The lawyer’s we’ve spoken with, who won’t charge us tens of thousands of dollars will not take our case because “you can’t take on the IRS.” Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of money for the lawyers who will. Even if we did though, the IRS could then hand our files over to the DEA and use our tax returns as proof that we manufactured and distributed large amounts of marijuana. So far, every dispensary owner and/or caregiver who has had to go to court for this has not been able to use the fact that marijuana is legal in their state as a defense.
Our backs are up against the wall and we are outnumbered and outgunned. It is obvious to everyone involved that the federal government is losing power and resulting to the only thing a rabid, dying dog knows- violence. That’s right, even though they aren’t laying a physical hand on me, what they are doing to me and my family is without a doubt an act of violence. When the mafia goes to a business and gives them an option – they can either pay a fee every month or have their business burned down – they get arrested for all sorts of different crimes. However, when our federal government does it, even though the vast majority of the country knows that they are even more corrupt and insane than any mafia that ever existed; most people shrug their shoulders and deal with it.
For decades the feds told everyone that marijuana was a dangerous, addicting drug that was done by blacks and Mexicans and made them crazy. The 60’s arrived and people started seeing through these lies, so the government changed tactics and began sending people to prison for long periods of time over very small amounts of the plant. When states started making it legal and millions of people began using the medicine, the government started going after store owners, not by arresting them, but by taking all their money and product. When this produced the opposite effect it was intended for – when thousands of new dispensaries started opening up in a dozen states – they turned to threats. They threatened landlords, banks, investors, contractors, lawyers, even state officials. The result is that no dispensary has a bank account (the easier for the DEA to rob them); they pay a much higher rent than anyone else would have to, and something as simple as building a room in a dispensary becomes an expensive hassle due to the fact thatcontractors charge three times their usual rate because it’s a risk to work with you. Not to mention the credit card processors (if you can find one) who charge five times the rate regular businesses are charged. Still, the number of dispensaries, patients, and legal state grows and now it looks like marijuana will be legal for recreational use in Colorado and Washington State starting soon. This makes it unstoppable, which makes the control freaks that run our lives pull out their hair, so now they’re using the IRS.
My first meeting with the IRS, a consultation, won’t happen until November 1st. None of the CPA’s we’ve spoken to seem to be sure of how long the process will last, only that it’s going to be bad for us. We will come out of this owing more money than we have ever even made and will have two choices- pay or not. If I were to listen to 99% of people, I would pay. I would have to shake off the fact that I’m being denied freedom and I would go out and get a job, paying a little bit every month for the rest of my life because they haven’t even gone over our returns for 2011 yet. Then there’s the other option- resist! This is what I plan to do.
When I speak of not paying the IRS, of how I would rather go to prison or live in exile for the rest of my life, most people – even the ‘liberal’ ones – tell me that I’m crazy, that there has to be a better solution, that it would be hard to pay off but it’s the same thing as a mortgage. It’s just one of those things we have to do in order to enjoy the freedoms that we take for granted. To them I say, you are all fucking insane. We need to recognize this for what it is, the terrorism of the US government, and we need to act in accordance. Let’s be clear- I am not promoting any form of violence in return to the violence they are raining down on us. I’m saying that more and more of us need to resist, it’s the only way the final leg of this empire will give out. Based on what most of us see and read every day, it seems like the US Empire isn’t losing any power, and that the government is as strong as ever, but this is very far from the truth. Read something besides the mainstream corporate newspapers, talk to people who are in the street fighting or resisting in other ways, and you’ll see that this fight is almost over, we’ve already won; we just need you to join.
The consequences are not always pretty, especially in a case like mine that won’t draw any media attention or result in thousands of people protesting outside the audit, but what else can we do? The IRS can demand my records and there’s nothing I can do, they can and have gone into my bank account and there’s nothing I can do, they can take part of my paycheck and any possessions that I have and there’s nothing that I can do. They can put me in a cage and I have no say. The one thing they can’t control, the one victory I have over them, is control over how I react and how I feel and live my life. This audit can destroy me, it can take every last drop of resistance and revolution out of my bones, it can turn me into a sheep- making an invisible CEO millions and bringing home hardly anything just so I can pay back some loan to a government that I refuse to recognize – or it can make me stronger.
I’m asking for help and I don’t mean in the form of lawyers or financial contributions, but rather in the form of action. Read about what is happening to me, read about the thousands of other people who are going through the same thing, educate yourself and then act. Whether the act is refusing to pay your taxes or your mortgage, growing your own food, or educating others- do something. We are alive only once and it’s for such a short time; it’s a tragedy to waste your one chance pointlessly toiling away your hours for some invalid, invisible abuser.
Normally I like to recommend an article or two about a specific incident. Today however, I would like to turn everyone on to one of my new heros. Check out this man’s blog. Please!