The Journal: News of the Churches of God  

U.S. Supreme Court dockets church member's
challenge of the IRS and income tax

by Dixon Cartwright

The Supreme Court of the United States announced on Sept. 11, 2012, that it will consider hearing the case of a Church of God member who believes the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. income tax are "applied unconstitutionally" and therefore illegal.

Jeffrey T. Maehr says he felt challenged by the law on IRS taxation back in 2002. So he wrote the IRS seeking clarification.

That started it all for the church member and resident of Pagosa Springs, Colo. The folks at the IRS would not give a straight answer to any of his questions, he says. They would send him form letters or just ignore his questions, he told The Journal in an interview in September 2012.

Dr. Maehr, a 59-year-old chiropractor who left his practice several years ago to begin what he calls a health-and-wellness service, was flabbergasted by what he saw as the IRS's lack of communication.

Because of it he decided to study everything he could about that government bureau and the income tax: their history and the laws and court decisions that have defined them for the last century.

Incredibly, in his journey through seven courtrooms in seven states, he has acted pro se; that is, without benefit of legal counsel. In his arguments before the highest court in the land, he intends to do the same.

If the court hears the case, Donald Verrilli, U.S. solicitor general, or an assistant will represent the United States and the IRS. Jeffrey Thomas Maehr, petitioner, will represent himself.

Phone interview

The rest of this article is based on a telephone interview with this writer on Sept. 20, 2012. In it Dr. Maehr speaks from Pagosa Springs with the writer in Big Sandy, Texas. The interview is edited for length and clarity.

10 years now

The Journal: Does it look like you might be able to argue your case before the Supreme Court? Can you give us a little information about that?

Jeffrey Maehr: It essentially started about 10 years ago. You know, we're expected to know the law, and obviously from a biblical standpoint we've all been studying law and all that kind of thing.

But secularwise I didn't know diddly about anything.

I just wanted to know a little bit more when I was challenged on a few things. So I started digging.

The Journal: So what kind of questions were you asking?

Dr. Maehr: I started sending letters to the IRS asking them to show me, to prove to me, various things. I asked very simple, straightforward questions: Can you show me the law here, can you show me what this means, what's this definition mean?

They just ignored my questions. They would send form letters, but those did not answer my questions.

That seems kind of strange, I thought, and I just kept digging. This was 2003, and the last time I filed a 1040 form was for 2002.

I kept up communication with the IRS, but it was one-sided. I've sent probably a thousand pages of documents to them over the past 10 years, asking them to answer for me the simplest of questions.

They just kept ignoring my questions and sending me their form letters.

Go to the courts

The Journal: So what eventually happened?

Dr. Maehr: Finally they said: Look, if you want any answers you're going to have to get them through the courts. We will not answer any more of your questions.

They tried to get my private financial documents, but it's fairly easy to stop them from doing that. But then they sent summonses demanding records on me to my businesses, my mortgage company, my banks, the vendors that I worked with through my health company.

In my cases in those seven courts, I referred to the Supreme Court cases from the late 1800s on what the courts originally defined as income and related challenges having to do with the way they're taxing people. That is, is it a direct or an indirect tax?

There are only two forms of taxation that are constitutional: direct and indirect. Direct taxes are to be apportioned according to the census. Direct taxes cannot be avoided but must be constitutionally applied.

Indirect taxes are taxes that can be avoided by choosing not to become involved in a taxable activity, like buying alcohol or tobacco that is so taxed. Indirect taxes could be thought of as fees or privileges.

So in 2008 I filed, in seven different federal courts in seven states--mostly for the practice--motions to quash the IRS's efforts to summons my records, and in doing so I provided the various courts with a plethora of information--all ignored.

There is a principle called default. If the IRS does not respond, does not answer the affidavit that contains your statements of beliefs and truths, then your assumptions in your affidavit are deemed to be accepted as true in law. You can't just ignore challenges.

I put that in the original documents I sent to the IRS. I said if I don't hear back from you, if you don't show me what the law is, then I will presume that what I'm stating here is true.

I stated, based on my own study and research, that I truly believed I am not personally, by law or by the U.S. Constitution, required to file a 1040 form.

So I put all that in there and the courts completely ignored it. I was challenging the standing of the IRS to be bringing those summonses.

The issue of standing

The Journal: Can you elaborate on standing?

Dr. Maehr: Standing is the first issue that they by law are supposed to prove on the record, and there wasn't anything in the record on it. Standing just refers to the IRS's right or lack of the right to challenge somebody before a court or to even be in the court doing what they are doing.

In my case, and the case of many millions of others, there is no means to defend yourself in routine IRS procedures.

So the courts completely ignored the question of standing and just gave the IRS their wins in all the courts, all seven of them. The courts by law are required to prove standing, but they didn't.

Deficiency notices

The Journal: So then what happened?

Dr. Maehr: It was maybe a year later I received deficiency notices in the mail for four years that I hadn't filed: ’03, ’04, ’05 and ’06. They wanted me to pay something like $140,000.

The only recourse I had was to take it to the U.S. Tax Court, and I did that.

Again, the court completely ignored all the evidence, everything, and ignored the issue of standing.

The IRS and their attorneys brought up past cases where the court has stated that, well, that's a frivolous argument. They said it is frivolous to argue that wages and salaries are not income.

Over and over, not just in my cases but down through the last hundred years, the government and the courts have ruled that any challenges to the tax laws are frivolous. They love saying something is frivolous.

When the U.S. Tax Court denied my position, I took my case to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver, and they basically did the same thing. They completely ignored everything. They ignored standing and ignored the case law, the substance of it.

So that opened the door to the U.S. Supreme Court. I filed with them on the 6th of September. That's when I mailed them the letter.

Then I got a letter on the 15th stating that my case went onto the docket for review.

Just what did that mean?

The Journal: Were you surprised?

Dr. Maehr: I wasn't quite sure what that meant, so I called the court on the 17th and asked them what does that actually mean. Does that mean they're going to look at my case and see if they're going to take it, or will they hear it?

He told me--I have it recorded--he said that, quote, the justices will review it, and, quote, it has been accepted for conference and review by the justices.

I then asked: "So it has been accepted, basically?"

He answered: "Yes, sir!"

Since they take only about 1 percent of the cases that they receive, I was kind of shocked--and pleased.

On to Washington

The Journal: So you and your lawyer will go to Washington?

Dr. Maehr: Well, what the court clerk told me turned out to be false. It turns out my initial question on whether the case was actually going to be heard was not true, but that they will now read the case and consider taking it.

I challenged him--the same guy who told me the previous info--on what he had told me, and he stated, "I'd never tell you that."

Okay, so what's going on here? He stated he had other things to attend to and ended the call. So they still have to formally accept the case.

The Journal: So if they take it then you and your lawyer will go to Washington?

No lawyer. It's pro se, which means I'm on my own, with no attorney. When I wrote up my case for the court, it was like I was in court arguing the case, opening statement, the evidence, closing statement.

The bulk of the standing cases I referred to in my written statement are Supreme Court cases ruled on a long time ago.

The questions I am bringing up have never been properly adjudicated. Even when they're using the frivolous label, where the courts themselves have said arguments are frivolous, there has never been any evidence presented to demonstrate the presumption of frivolousness.

They just simply presume and state that it's frivolous.

In effect they're saying, well, everybody knows dot dot dot. Everybody knows that if you make wages that's income.

That's an empty argument, as courts have ruled and even as congressional testimony has verified.

Why is this happening?

The Journal: Why do you think the highest court in the land might hear your case?

Dr. Maehr: I know the court likes to consider how something affects the population at large. If it's something they think is just somebody's pet peeve, they don't take those.

But if it affects a lot of people, if it's a significant issue, then the court has stated it will consider at least some of those cases.

I used the argument that this case affects every man, woman and child in America.

Four interested justices

The Journal: I read that for the court to agree to put a case on the docket there must be at least four justices who are in favor of hearing it.

Dr. Maehr: That's interesting. I'm new to all of this as far as the Supreme Court goes.

Tax protester?

The Journal: On a philosophical note, do you consider yourself a tax protester?

Dr. Maehr: I consider myself an illegal-tax protester, not a tax protester, because I pay sales taxes in my business. I pay a lot of taxes when I buy stuff. I'm not claiming that government does not have authority to tax. They certainly do.

What about the 16th Amendment?

The Journal: Didn't the 16th Amendment to the Constitution back in 1913 establish the legality of the income tax? It states, and I quote:

"The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration."

Dr. Maehr: No, that did not establish the income tax as we have it today. That's one of the questions in this case because the 16th Amendment, as the Supreme Court ruled in the Brushaber case, did not authorize any new form of taxation.

There was never an intent for Congress to declare that wages and salaries are income and taxable. That's the whole question: What is income? I'm arguing that income is something very specific and is not wages and salaries.

Here's an example. You put $100 in the bank, you get some interest. That interest is legal income.

Wages, on the other hand, are something you receive in a fair trade. You trade your labor for your wages. There is no increase, no quote profit unquote, no legally defined income.

How did it happen?

The Journal: So if Congress didn't authorize the way income tax is calculated and levied today, and it's not in the Constitution, how did it happen?

Dr. Maehr: Well, it started essentially regarding the war [the Civil War]. The income tax is a fairly new thing. We went 150 years without an income tax, and the government had plenty of money. It was supposed to be only for a few years and then be canceled.

But, unbeknownst to all, they didn't really cancel it. They just played this smoke-and-mirrors game and juggled things around and began doing things that were never intended and were never legally implemented, and the people didn't notice.

The Journal: Who are they?

Dr. Maehr: The government. In 1913 the IRS came into existence and the Federal Reserve came into existence.

The Journal: Who brought them into existence?

Dr. Maehr: The government.

The Journal: Who's the government? Who are we talking about? The executive branch, the Congress?

Dr. Maehr: Yeah, the Congress, the federal government.

Congress did it

The Journal: So Congress, even though it had originally said you can't do this, Congress itself did do it?

Dr. Maehr: Yeah.

The Journal: So Congress passed a law saying there's an income tax as we know it today?

Dr. Maehr: Not as we know it today but originally as a tax on wealth, which most Americans did not have.

The history of the IRS is convoluted. It kind of morphed around. The IRS and the Federal Reserve were both brought into existence because they work for each other.

Spending money

The Journal: The IRS is government and the Federal Reserve is private, right?

Dr. Maehr: Well, that's another question in the case. The IRS declared in one of their own cases that they denied they were an agency of the U.S. government. We, then, need to ask: What are they lawfully?

The Federal Reserve is a private corporate entity, although it's under the Federal Reserve Act, which is basically an illegal thing for Congress to have done because Congress is the one that has authority to coin money and to make the value of it and they cannot delegate that.

Part of the fraud is because the government--Congress--wanted to be able to spend money without the American people knowing where it was coming from.

They can do that through fiat currency [paper money not convertible into intrinsically valuable metal specie] because they're doing it to this day, printing trillions of dollars.

Ronald Reagan commissioned what's called the Grace Commission. He said he wanted to find out where all this tax money was going.

The commission's conclusion was that every single penny of tax money collected from Americans was going to pay the interest on the national debt.

That was it. It's not paying for roads. It's not paying for a school. It's not paying for anything. It's paying the greedy private cartel known as the Federal Reserve. It's paying the interest that we shouldn't have to be paying.

The entire national debt doesn't exist as a legitimate debt. We could just walk away from it, as Ron Paul has stated.

How do you stay out of prison?

The Journal: I've read of tax protesters going to court, or being hauled in for nonpayment or evasion, including two church members very recently here in Big Sandy. They're in prison now.

A man and his wife were sent to separate prisons in separate states for, I think it was, three to five years. But I think they used a different approach from yours. They declared they were sovereign individuals and not really citizens of the United States.

So many people you hear about have tried to reform the system or argue that income tax is illegal or point out all kinds of problems, and they've ended up in prison. How have you stayed out of prison?

Paper trails to you

Dr. Maehr: Well, because of the paper trail that I've created. I'm a really big believer in being totally transparent and open and showing good faith every step of the way.

Because of the at least 1,000 pages of documents I've sent them by certified mail over the past 10 years, it's an impossibility for them to criminally go after me. That's because they could never prove willful failure to file. One of the elements of what is defined as willful failure to file is that you knew you had a lawful duty and you didn't do it.

Well, I don't believe I have a lawful duty, and I've made that extremely clear.

Another tangent is a lot of times these people, so-called tax protesters, are doing it in good faith and they do have a leg to stand on, so to speak, but they're still trying to play the IRS game, like they'll file 1040s. They still have their foot in the IRS's door. That's why the IRS can go after them. They are trying to play another game but are still under the IRS rules.

The people you mentioned probably had too many tentacles still stuck in the system and they probably didn't create a paper trail that was long enough.

Why didn't the IRS bring me into court and show me the law that I'm violating?

Well, because there isn't any. There is no law at all--even in the Internal Revenue Code--that makes most of us liable, personally liable, to file a 1040 form.

I might add too that regarding not being a quote United States unquote citizen has legal merit when you delve into the definition of a United States--with United States in quotes--citizen vs. a state citizen, and what the 14th Amendment did to all of us state citizens.

Maybe we can talk about that some other time.

But people still go to jail

The Journal: I understand what you're saying. I've read about proceedings in other courts where somebody made convincing-sounding arguments, but the judge and/or jury just said it's frivolous and they threw him in jail anyway. The merits of the case didn't seem to make any difference.

But you've somehow been able to avoid that because of your paper trail?

Dr. Maehr: The paper trail and just willing, I guess, to go to the nth degree.

It's been a monumental amount of work, but it isn't all me because there are other cases, and the research I've tapped into.

Case histories

The Journal: Other cases?

Dr. Maehr: Like Joe Banister. He was acquitted by a jury. Vernice Kuglin. She was a FedEx pilot. In fact, Joe Banister was an ex–IRS special agent. He put people in jail, but now he educates and defends them.

The Journal: Kind of like Paul when he was Saul?

Dr. Maehr: While Joe Banister was an IRS special agent, he was similarly challenged as I was, and he did a two-year study on his own time. After two years he put a 90-plus-page document together and brought it to his superiors and said, hey, I think we've got a problem here.

Their reaction? They just said we want your resignation. They didn't pay any attention to his legal proof or arguments.

Tom Cryer is another one. He died recently. He won a year or two ago.

These guys are just saying show me the law. Vernice Kuglin sent a letter every year to the IRS stating I want to follow the law. I want to do my duty. I want to pay my fair share. Just show me the law.

No answers, and they went after her.

What's a jury to do?

The Journal: What if a jury believes there is something deficient in the law itself? Do members of a jury have recourse?

Dr. Maehr: Good question. That gets us into jury nullification, where the jury can be the judge of the law, yes, but also of the law itself.

They can say it might be the law but the law is bad, or we don't like it, or they might say government's misusing the law and we're going to find the defendant not guilty. Once that happens, it's done, and the jury is entirely within its legal rights to make that decision.

When God says My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge, boy, that is such an understatement whether we're talking about jury nullification or other aspects of what we're discussing here.

What about Romans 13?

The Journal: You quote the Bible about My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. What about Romans 13: "For there is no power but of God. The powers that be are ordained of God. Whoever resists the power resists the ordinance of God. They who resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works but to the evil"?

Paul is represented in the epistle to the Romans as going on to say: "For he"--the governmental authority--"is God's minister to you for good. For he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject. Because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God's ministers attending continually to this very thing."

These words ascribed to the apostle Paul could reasonably be taken to mean that God is in some real sense personally directing the IRS and you don't have any business bucking that system.

Dr. Maehr: Yeah, I think that the best articles I've seen on that topic are by Chuck Baldwin. Google Chuck Baldwin Romans 13. His responses on that would be better than I'm able to give.

Was Hitler ordained of God?

The Journal: Yes, but for this particular interview and article, how would you, Jeff Maehr, answer that in a couple of sentences or two or three paragraphs?

Dr. Maehr: I would say that, if we take Romans 13 the way we have been taking it, then we're stating that Hitler was ordained of God.

Christ Himself fought the system, the authorities. Paul did. My answer would be that since we can't take Romans 13 as it's written--I couldn't possibly do that for a second--what Paul's talking about are benevolent powers.

Paul's not saying that we have to submit to horrendous, illegal, unconstitutional authorities. We must submit only to benevolent powers.

The Journal: Yet Romans 13:1 plainly implies that every soul should be subject to the higher powers because there are no powers that be that are not ordained of God.

Right of the first night

Dr. Maehr: Well, that would be like if they went back to the doctrine of jus primae noctis.

What if the powers that be say that, when somebody's going to get married, the leader, the ruler of the area, has the right to take the bride into his bed before the bride and groom consummate their marriage? Now, would the church say that's of God?

The Journal: No, the church would not say that. But Paul said that. I'm just saying that's what Paul is represented as saying. I'm concluding that you can't necessarily take literally every saying that is attributed to Paul.

Dr. Maehr: Yeah, well, get those articles from Chuck Baldwin. He explains this very well, and I would add this: The people are the masters in our republic, and the government is the servant.

Paul dealt with true sovereign powers they were subject to. Christ stated that a servant--our government--is not above his master, the people.

We've just forgotten that God made us the sovereigns, under Him, and we are to obey the laws of the land, the true laws which we created, not all the pharisaical laws of control the servants created to rule over us.

What if Dr. Maehr wins?

The Journal: What are the implications if you win? What would that do to the country? Sounds like it would throw a monkey wrench into the works of government, businesses, individuals, everything and everyone. Would freedom--or chaos--ring?

Dr. Maehr: Ideally speaking, the IRS could disappear. Ideally speaking, the fraudulent activities of the IRS for the past 99 years would be exposed and there would suddenly be a huge awakening of people who realize the corruption that the government's been involved in.

You know, I'm taking a pie-in-the-sky, altruistic approach here. I'm like David and I have one rock, and this is certainly a giant I'm up against, but I believe God can take them down.

My questions are valid and the case law I'm citing is valid, but I don't know what's going to happen. It's a matter of how the Supreme Court will rule on it.

When people go to jail, it's all over the news. But when Joe Banister was acquitted or Vernice Kuglin or Tommy Cryer and others, you don't hear one peep about that because the IRS uses fear and intimidation.

Most people hear IRS and they think audit or they'll knock on my door sometime, and it creates all this fear.

But there's nothing they could do to me. I don't have anything they could possibly take even if the illegal assessment is upheld. It doesn't mean anything in my life.

The reason this is all coming to a head is there are millions of people who are not in the system anymore. A lot of them are not filing because they know about the scam.

So I'm hoping the Supreme Court will realize that it's inevitable that this is going to come out, and I made that clear in my case. I said it is going to be vetted. I said millions are finding out about this from thousands of Web sites and attorneys and individuals across the country. It's not going away. So the sooner we address it the better.

The Journal: What if you lose? Would this be the end of protests of taxes that some people have concluded are illegal? Would a loss for you at the Supreme Court slap down this kind of effort for all time?

Dr. Maehr: I don't think it would be the end of protests and efforts to reform the system. But it could be a significant setback.

When we go to the highest court in the land to seek due process of law and are denied it even here, then we do not have a free republic and are very close to tyranny and likely a civil war.

Our founding fathers stated in our laws that the people had the right to alter or abolish this government if its ends were not serving the people.

History is replete with the people finally deciding they've had enough.

What would a legal income tax look like?

The Journal: You mentioned you are an illegal-tax protester but not a tax protester per se. So let's say the Supreme Court finds in your favor and somehow the IRS and income tax have to be revamped. What would a legal income tax look like? Or can there be such a thing?

Dr. Maehr: Well, yes, there can be if you're a corporation or making actual income from your wealth. You have all your expenses, you've got your employees, you've got your supplies. Everything is paid for, and then whatever is over those expenses is a corporate profit. Whatever is profitable above and beyond expenses is taxable as income.

Excise taxes, alcohol tax, the firearms tax, all those taxes are legitimate, legal, constitutional taxes that bring in revenue. So it's not a matter of government suddenly shutting down.

Political truth

The Journal: What are your political leanings?

Dr. Maehr: I guess libertarian. I'm a Tea Party type. I just want the truth.

We should know as church members that law is important, and we should be made aware if we have been lulled into a form of lawlessness, which is what we've been caught up in.

When I went into the Navy I said I would defend my country against all enemies foreign and domestic, and that's not happening when we comply with something like the IRS and the income tax as it is being applied.

If the Constitution and laws say A and we as a people, even in the church, are doing B and filling out that 1040 form and signing it under penalty of perjury, then we are committing perjury every time we sign it because we are making a declaration that the powers that be love us to make:

We're self-assessing that we have income we do not lawfully have. We are the ones making an unwitting decision to assess ourselves.

They look at anybody filling out those forms as making a donation to the corporate government.

How voluntary is voluntary?

The Journal: And yet many people who have said the income tax is voluntary so I'm not going to pay it have ended up in jail.

Dr. Maehr: You've got to be wise in this. You've got to take it a step at a time. You can't just cold-turkey it. You've got to use their own rules and the laws against them.

It's getting easier because more and more people are realizing what's happening.

The computer age and the Internet have made possible the research that must be done to understand this. If it wasn't for the Internet, none of us would know any of this. People are able to do the research and put it out there where other people can find it.

It's piling up. It's a big library that's getting bigger and bigger because we're all learning and contributing to it. It's going to reach a point of no return.

The Journal: So when might the Supreme Court hear your arguments?

Dr. Maehr: I don't know yet. Depends on the IRS response, if any.

The Journal: Let's say the court decides to hear you and let's just postulate that your arguments prevail. What will happen to the people who are sitting in prison for trying to do what you've been doing? Would my friends from Big Sandy get out of prison sooner rather than years later?

Dr. Maehr: Yes, I believe. Anybody who's in jail for any type of IRS-related charge would immediately be released. They'd have to be. I think the dominoes would quickly fall.

Personal matters

The Journal: What do you do for a living. You're a chiropractor?

Dr. Maehr: Yes, but I'm not in practice anymore. I have my Web site,, that's paying the bills. It's about health and wellness.

I've got a lot of other irons in the fire including major projects we're about to get funding for. I've been working with a group for about 10 years in the area of health and wellness.

We'll have wellness centers, whole-life centers, organic foods, non-GMO [genetically modified organism] greenhouse technology, energy technologies and much more.

See a PDF of the document Dr. Maehr submitted to the Supreme Court at Read an article based on reporter Bob Unruh's recent interview with Dr. Maehr at

Dr. Maehr accepts donations via check or PayPal to continue
his efforts to reform, and help others reform, U.S. tax laws.

Payments via can be sent in care of
the E-mail address:
Or write to:
Dr. Jeffrey Maehr
924 E. Stollsteimer Rd.,
Pagosa Springs, Colo. 81147, U.S.A.

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