Best of TaxLetter: The Cheap Millionaire

Roman Weninger, a self-made millionaire, protested against the condition of the country by suing IRS eight times, suing various other governmental departments and officials in approximately thirty-five cases, and by not filing income tax returns. During 1973 and 1974, his income exceeded $180,000. So now it was IRS' turn to sue.

Weninger refused to hire a lawyer, choosing to represent himself. According to a court appointed psychiatrist, "if he asked for help, people might think he was not sincere in his effort." Judge Winner had presided over some of Weninger's previous cases and was sympathetic. "You need a lawyer. You need a lawyer badly," he advised. "You may well spend up to two years in prison because you stubbornly refuse to go to a lawyer....I don't care how much you think there's no lawful money except gold coin. I don't care how much you think federal reserve notes are not legal tender, and I have never understood. Since you feel so strongly that they are no good, why don't you just go ahead and pay your taxes with them."

Weninger didn't hire a lawyer and the jury refused to uphold his patriotic protest against the federal income tax. He then appealed his conviction arguing that his trial was unfair because he was not represented by a lawyer. (No. 18)


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Created: March 21, 1996; Last updated: January 26, 2004
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