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  #1  
Old 04-30-2002, 10:21 AM
Epimetheus Epimetheus is offline
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Whats the deal with Sovereign citizens?

A guy at work was telling me how he was applying for a Sovereign citzenship of the United States. He mentioned that he will get a drivers liscence that is good anywhere in the world, and will not have to pay taxes. Obviously a lie, AFAIK, nobody is exempt from taxes.

So whats the Straight dope on Sovereign Citizens? Is this guy getting scammed into believing something false, or is there really such a thing?
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  #2  
Old 04-30-2002, 10:43 AM
robcaro robcaro is offline
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I have never heard of Sovereign citizenship in the United States.

Sovereign is defined in my American Heritage dictionary in part as follows:

[quote]sov·er·eign 1. One that exercises supreme, permanent authority, especially in a nation or other governmental unit, as: a. A king, queen, or other noble person who serves as chief of state; a ruler or monarch. b. A national governing council or committee.[quote]
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  #3  
Old 04-30-2002, 11:04 AM
Kalashnikov Kalashnikov is offline
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They're idiots who live in a dream world. They believe that if they say the right magic incantations, the law won't apply to them. There is no such thing as "sovereign citizenship" except in their fantasy.

Like the tinfoil hat brigade, all they do is give moderate patriots (in the sense of "part of the patriot movement/subculture") a bad name.

I haven't heard of it being a scam, per se, although that's possible. As far as I know, most of the people who claim to believe this silliness really do.
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  #4  
Old 04-30-2002, 11:18 AM
Riboflavin Riboflavin is offline
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I may be getting it mixed up with another one, but here goes. The idea behind soverign citizenship is that 'United States Citizen' is a specific term that only applies to certain types of people mentioned in the 14th amendment (basically, people who were not considered citizens of their state like slaves). By declaring yourself a 'soverign citizen' or citizen of a particular state, you are no longer a 'United States Citizen' and so are exempt from any laws that apply to a US citizen, such as tax laws and vehicular laws. Needless to say, not many people buy this twisty argument, especially the group of people who are judges.

And it's a scam because people will offer to sell materials and 'consulting' on how to become a soverign citizen, most commonly to try to get out of paying taxes. This sort of thing works about as well as trying to get out of a ticket by claiming that it doesn't apply to you because they capitalized your name wrong or based on the trim on the flag in the courtroom; that is not at all. If you go to the IRS site http://www.irs.gov/ and poke around at the tax fraud page, you can find some info on 'soverign citizenship' and the fact that, whether the argument makes sense to you or not, the courts don't buy it.
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  #5  
Old 04-30-2002, 11:35 AM
Guinastasia Guinastasia is offline
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I think this site: http://www.militia-watchdog.org/ has some information on them. Are they like the Freeman Group?

Really scary bunch of people.
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  #6  
Old 04-30-2002, 11:37 AM
Monty Monty is online now
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Your friend may also wish to read the data on his international driver's license with a bit more attention. The thing's not valid in the country where issued. Such DLs are so you don't have to go through the hassle of getting a local DL in a country which does honour the IDL but doesn't honour your home DL.
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  #7  
Old 04-30-2002, 12:14 PM
Guinastasia Guinastasia is offline
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Here we go:
http://www.adl.org/learn/ext%5Fus/scm.asp
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  #8  
Old 04-30-2002, 12:28 PM
sailor sailor is offline
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I never cease to be amazed at the kind of stuff people are willing to believe. Truly amazing. The scary part is these people also have the right to vote and to be in juries.
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  #9  
Old 04-30-2002, 12:55 PM
Kalashnikov Kalashnikov is offline
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Don't put much stock in that militia-watchdog site either. Morris Dees is a known fraud.

"Gee, one <insert any political party> said something I don't like so they're all terrorists"
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  #10  
Old 04-30-2002, 07:00 PM
Crafter_Man Crafter_Man is online now
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Quote:
Originally posted by Guinastasia
I think this site: http://www.militia-watchdog.org/ has some information on them. Are they like the Freeman Group?

Really scary bunch of people.
Yea, those militia folks are really scary. 1


1You apparently haven't checked out my webpage.
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  #11  
Old 04-30-2002, 07:37 PM
Epimetheus Epimetheus is offline
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That Sovereign citizen movement web page mentioned that The SC is a white supremist movement, or neo-nazi. Perhaps if the guy at work is being recruited for this by somebody else I should warn him. He is African-American, and might be in danger if this site is to believed.
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  #12  
Old 04-30-2002, 08:13 PM
Collounsbury
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Quote:
Originally posted by Kalashnikov
Don't put much stock in that militia-watchdog site either. Morris Dees is a known fraud.

"Gee, one <insert any political party> said something I don't like so they're all terrorists"
Cite to reputable sourcing please.

Or is this part of the name game?
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  #13  
Old 04-30-2002, 08:24 PM
Guinastasia Guinastasia is offline
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I didn't say all militia people were scary. I said the Sovereign Citizen movement people were scary.



Seriously. I'm talking about the hardcore, Montana Freeman, people, the types who live in compounds and shoot anyone who looks at them cross-eyed. The conspiracy theorist types.
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  #14  
Old 04-30-2002, 08:44 PM
Crafter_Man Crafter_Man is online now
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Quote:
Originally posted by Guinastasia
Seriously. I'm talking about the hardcore, Montana Freeman, people, the types who live in compounds and shoot anyone who looks at them cross-eyed. The conspiracy theorist types.

Guin babe, you've been watching too much TV...
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  #15  
Old 04-30-2002, 08:49 PM
Collounsbury
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Hardly.
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  #16  
Old 04-30-2002, 08:59 PM
Kalashnikov Kalashnikov is offline
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Sovereign citizen, white supremacist, and militia have nothing to do with each other, except that there are some people who are part of more than one of these groups.
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  #17  
Old 04-30-2002, 09:02 PM
Collounsbury
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There appears to be large coincidences between the three and extremist behavour.

Again substantive cite to your characterization of Morris. I've never seen him characterized as a fraud. He has a POV --as you clearly do as well-- but I've only seen reputable (as opposed to disreputable) people express respect for his work.

Which is not to say he may or may not be wrong in his evaulation of some groups.
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  #18  
Old 04-30-2002, 09:05 PM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Monty
Your friend may also wish to read the data on his international driver's license with a bit more attention. The thing's not valid in the country where issued. Such DLs are so you don't have to go through the hassle of getting a local DL in a country which does honour the IDL but doesn't honour your home DL.
An Australian I know once tried to use an IDL in Louisiana when he got stopped by a cop. The cop had never heard of an IDL and when he was told that it was recognized by the US govt by treaty, the cop allowed as he had heard of the US govt, but it had no jurisdiction over LA traffic laws. The cop was doubtless wrong, but are you going to go to court to establish it? On the other hand, as far as the cop was concerned an Aussie driver's licence was fine, more or less like a NY or CA licence. I have found that my own licence seems to be valid anywhere, so I have not got an IDL, which seems useless. I do have a DL with no expiration date issued by a Swiss Canton that is probably valid everywhere too. None of which has any connection with the OP.
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  #19  
Old 04-30-2002, 09:06 PM
Guinastasia Guinastasia is offline
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Look, I'm not saying MILITIAS are scary. I'm saying the extreme fringe groups are scary. That's just where I found the information, that's all.

D'uh, I thought we were supposed to have militias, for defense and things like that. I'm saying I find people like the Sovereign Citizens scary.

Sheesh!
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  #20  
Old 04-30-2002, 09:10 PM
Kalashnikov Kalashnikov is offline
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http://www.deeswatch.com/

Do a google search on Morris Dees, after the Southern Poverty Law Center (who he works for), almost all the rest of the top hits are against him.
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  #21  
Old 04-30-2002, 09:16 PM
JRDelirious JRDelirious is offline
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Wasn't it Cecil Himself who said that by now he presumes that anyone attempting to "prove" he doesn't have to pay the federal income tax is "ipso facto, wack"?

A US Citizen is a US Citizen is a US Citizen. And so is a Citizen of the US. If they don't want to pay federal taxes they can move their legal residence to this town and get a local job that does not involve any interstate movement of money. But OUR 34% tax bracket kicks in at just 50K.
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  #22  
Old 04-30-2002, 09:19 PM
Spavined Gelding Spavined Gelding is offline
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We had an out break of "Sovereign Citizen" and "We the People" types at the time of the Great Farm Crises in the early 80s. (WE have a fresh Great Farm Crises about every ten years.) It has almost died out but there is some residue left. For the most part it is a tax and debt dodge. The fundamental claims are that Federal Reserve notes and bank paper entries are not legitimate money, that the Constitution was not properly ratified, that, because of some defect in the Northwest Ordinance, Ohio was not admitted as a State and that all state and federal legislation after Ohio's statehood in 1803 is invalid.

The wonderful thing is that once you accept the initial leap of logic and somewhat convoluted "legalistic" thinking the whole thing makes sense. Thus, I borrowed $250,000.00 from the bank and gave the bank a mortgage, but all the bank gave me were paper entries in its account books which isn't real money so I don't have to pay it back and the bank can't foreclose the mortgage because the mortgage was not properly recorded with the Washington, D.C. Recorder of Deeds (because Iowa is not a real State, for some reason or another) and the Iowa District Court has no jurisdiction in the foreclosure lawsuit because the flag in the courtroom has yellow fringe. The whole thing is just a marvel to behold.

I once watched a local magistrate quietly explain that the Court was perfectly willing to accept "counterfeit" Federal Reserve Notes in payment of a fine but the Defendant always had the option of spending 30 days in the rat hole of a county jail if he was all that opposed to perpetrating a fraud by paying in greenbacks. The Defendant swallowed his principles and paid up.
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  #23  
Old 04-30-2002, 09:31 PM
Kalashnikov Kalashnikov is offline
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It's important to note that there are people who don't pay their taxes or don't have drivers licenses etc., who know and admit that they are breaking the law, do not claim to be exempt or expect special treatment, and do expect to get in legal trouble if they ever get caught.

These people don't claim to be sovereign citizens.
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  #24  
Old 04-30-2002, 09:39 PM
Derleth Derleth is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Kalashnikov
These people don't claim to be sovereign citizens.
Just out of curiosity, do they ever claim to be intelligent?

Real morons in the world.
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  #25  
Old 04-30-2002, 09:45 PM
Kalashnikov Kalashnikov is offline
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So its better for someone to go on welfare and live off your tax dollars rather than take an under the counter job, if that's the only work they can find?
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  #26  
Old 04-30-2002, 10:00 PM
Monty Monty is online now
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Hari:

First or Second Foundation?

Anyway, I've never encountered a copper who didn't know the permitted licenses in his jurisdiction. Heck, I even got a ticket in Japan once and the cop was kind enough to let me read the English instructions, conveniently placed in the back of his ticket book, regarding why I was getting a ticket. Darn thing even showed him what to check on my military ID card to ensure it was current!

Perhaps I'm one of the few, but I do keep a California Driver's Handbood in my glove box. I'd imagine a cop in Louisiana would at least know what's a valid license there. But, perhaps not.

p.s. I love Asimov's SciFi!
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  #27  
Old 04-30-2002, 10:03 PM
Guinastasia Guinastasia is offline
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So these people think that the 14th ammendment is what caused taxes and things like that? And that the Federal government didn't have any power until the Civil War?

Huh? What about the Bill of Rights? The Whiskey Rebellion?

Hello!!!!

What the hell are these idiots smoking and where can I get some?
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  #28  
Old 04-30-2002, 10:34 PM
davidm davidm is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Kalashnikov
http://www.deeswatch.com/

Do a google search on Morris Dees, after the Southern Poverty Law Center (who he works for), almost all the rest of the top hits are against him.
FYI, search engine ranking has no relationship to the validity of the websites. Also, the number of con sites vs the number of pro sites doesn't necessarily reflect on the validity of the opinions on those sites. It doesn't even necessarily give a true picture of public opinion. For example, if 9 sites trash someone while only one site praises him, it doesn't show that 9 of out 10 people are against that person; only that 9 people feel strongly enough to go to the trouble of putting up a website (or possibly that one or two people put up 9 websites).

Think about it... If someone likes and supports what Dees is doing, they're not going to put up a website praising him. They're going to perhaps send a check to his organization and maybe link to the SPLC from their website. What would be the point in them putting up a website that reflects what's already being said at splcenter.org? On the other hand people who don't like what he's doing and feel strongly enough about it (especially those people whom he's attacked) may put up a website expressing their opinion. In fact one individual may put up a number of sites and spam the search engines (I'm not saying that's what happened in this instance but it can happen.)

Morris Dees heads an organization that takes a very strong stand against certain individuals and organizations. Someone who does that, right or wrong, is going to be attacked by people who resent what he's doing. The fact the he's attacked doesn't prove that he's wrong, only that he's good at ruffling feathers.

Whether or not he's a fraud depends on the facts, not on search engine rankings.
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  #29  
Old 04-30-2002, 10:36 PM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is online now
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I went to the site Kalishnikov linked to. It's got a page entitled "Compound Information" which seems to be its mission statement, including this information:
Quote:
DeesWatch is the name given to the free speech advocacy and anti-Dees activism undertaken by Marc Slanger and his collaborators. It began when Marc Slanger and a friend disrupted a Morris Dees speech at Southern Illinois University Law School with a fake event program that exposed the lies and hypocrisy of Sleazy Dees and his Southern Profiteer Lie Center. That incident led to an invitation to be interviewed on a Chicago radio talk show.

In the same spirit, Marc launched the DeesWatch website as a clearing house for all anti-Dees information and opinion available. The site was an instant success, winning rave reviews from racial separatists and lovers of individual freedom everywhere.
So, this site that says it's goal is free speech is run by avowed racists who believe in disrupting the free speech rights of people with whom they disagree.

Sorry, Kalishnikov, far from supporting your allegation that Dees is a fraud, the citation you gave in support suggests to me that Dees is taking action against a particularly nasty segment of the community.
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  #30  
Old 04-30-2002, 10:38 PM
Kalashnikov Kalashnikov is offline
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Then please tell me how YOU determine someone's reputation.
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  #31  
Old 04-30-2002, 10:43 PM
Kalashnikov Kalashnikov is offline
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He is indeed taking action against a particularly nasty type of people, which is a good thing, the trouble is that he paints with such a broad brush as to include and falsely accuse many innocent groups.
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  #32  
Old 04-30-2002, 10:51 PM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is online now
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Well, I take a look at what he's actually done, instead of what his opponents say he's done. Two things that Dees has done, lawfully and through the courts, have impressed me.

Back in the mid-eighties, he took on a case for the mother of a dead black teenager. The teenager had been lynched by the Klan. Dees sued the Klan group in question for inciting its members to commit murder, got a multi-million dollar civil judgment against them, and executed it by taking possesion of their club-house for the mother of the slain teenager. He shut down a Klan group, peacefully and through the courts.

More recently, in Idaho, Dees sued the Aryan Nations for inciting its members to violence against a mother and son on racial grounds. Again, he was successful, and was able to take possession of the Aryan Nations compound, which was a training site glorifying Adolph Hitler and racist views. The compound now is a centre for human rights and the Aryan Nations have left Idaho.

Sounds okay to me.
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  #33  
Old 04-30-2002, 10:53 PM
Collounsbury
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Well K-boy, I don't rely on the opinions of, ahem, 'racial separatists' et al.

Typically for those of us not involved in extremist organizations, etc, one relies on sources of information that
(a) Appear to engage in some ordinary level of fact checking
(b) Appear to make efforts for reasonable, unbiased inquiry.

I repeat, I have often seen praise for MD's work in delving into the ugly underworld of racists, neonazis, at least elements of this self-styled 'patriot' movement etc. from law enforcement and major independent media.

The 'critiques' I have seen come from the website you nicely cited for us. I rather hope out of an abundance of zeal and a neglect for minimium of critical inquiry that one might expect when dealing with such issues.
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  #34  
Old 04-30-2002, 10:54 PM
davidm davidm is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Kalashnikov
Then please tell me how YOU determine someone's reputation.
It depends on the situation, but I don't do it by counting search engine results. I just don't believe that they are a valid measure of public opinion. I gave my reasons for this in my previous post.
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  #35  
Old 04-30-2002, 10:56 PM
Collounsbury
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I see K has acknowledged MD's work, that's good. It may be that in working in that murky world that he has to work with that he's made mistakes. Intelligence failures if you will. That hardly makes the man a fraud -- only human. I'm sure he's made mistakes, as noted above.
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  #36  
Old 04-30-2002, 11:35 PM
Kalashnikov Kalashnikov is offline
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Of course I didn't form my opinion by counting search results, I've known about him for a long time. I mentioned the links because when some one asks for a cite on these boards they're normally talking about a link, and I didn't have time to read them all.
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  #37  
Old 04-30-2002, 11:53 PM
Geek Mecha Geek Mecha is offline
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Some Native Hawaiian folks here tried to pull the "soverein citizens" baloney a few years ago. They lived on the beaches and declared it some sovereign nation of Hawaii, complete with their own license plates. Of course, the cops stopped them, noting the illegal tags. They made a big stink, said they weren't being respected , and basically made fools of themselves. They went away shortly after. I'm sure some are still camped there and still maintain their "political status", though.
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  #38  
Old 05-01-2002, 11:09 AM
occ occ is offline
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If you go to the IRS website, one of their more interesting pages is a document presenting common "I found a loophole that lets me get out of paying taxes!" myths, and explaining why they don't hold much water. Most of these revolve around sillyness like "oh, x wasn't correctly sworn in as governor, so they couldn't have legally signed <x document>, and because their state's name appeared on the bill, IT WAS NEVER LEGALLY RATIFIED! I DON'T HAVE TO PAY TAXES!".

The thing that all of these tax dodges ignore is the concept of PRECEDENT. Laws are generally validated by how well they hold up in court over time, not by how the sentance happened to be phrased on some government document somewhere.
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  #39  
Old 05-01-2002, 11:15 PM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is online now
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Quote:
Originally posted by Epimetheus
That Sovereign citizen movement web page mentioned that The SC is a white supremist movement, or neo-nazi. Perhaps if the guy at work is being recruited for this by somebody else I should warn him. He is African-American, and might be in danger if this site is to believed.
The Sovereign Citizen movement is not, in my experience, a white supremacist group. There may be some overlap between sovereign citizens and groups like Aryan nations, but I would not characterise the sovereign citizens I've had dealings with as white supremacist. Still, never hurts to be cautious.

With respect to International Driver's Permits, my understanding is that they are a document to certify that your permit from your home country is in fact a driver's permit, which is especially important if it is in a different language than the foreign jurisdiction you're travelling in. But the IDP is not itself a permit. I found this explanation from a New Zealand tourism site:
Quote:
An International Driving Permit (IDP) is essentially a translation of a foreign language driver licence issued by a foreign country. It is not considered a valid licence and must accompany a valid New Zealand driver licence. An IDP will ensure that your New Zealand licence will be understood and accepted by overseas officials who may ask to see your drivers licence. If you have an International Driving Permit, keep it with your New Zealand driver licence at all times when travelling overseas.
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  #40  
Old 05-02-2002, 02:20 AM
MarkyDeSade MarkyDeSade is offline
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Obviously a lie, AFAIK, nobody is exempt from taxes.
I don't pay taxes, and I can drive anywhere in the world. I have an international drivers license.
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  #41  
Old 05-02-2002, 02:22 AM
MarkyDeSade MarkyDeSade is offline
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Oh yeah, I don't pay taxes 'cause I don't live in the US. No Japanese taxes either. It's a dream.
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  #42  
Old 05-02-2002, 06:28 AM
tarokaja tarokaja is offline
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Monsieur de Sade, are you working under the table and getting paid in cash? You must be, if you're not paying Japanese taxes. I might mention for those who've never been to Japan that it's relatively common for native speakers of English to do private language tutoring on this basis (illegal, but almost never caught).
For those of us who work here on a more, um, official basis, we do indeed have to pay Japanese income taxes, but they're withheld automatically from salaries, and there's very little tax return paperwork for the individual to do--just one piece of paper listing you name and address, etc., and your dependents if you have any. And for the Americans here, we are indeed exempt from U.S. taxes unless we make a very large amount of money (and I believe other countries have very similar laws about their citizens working abroad).
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  #43  
Old 05-02-2002, 07:01 AM
sailor sailor is offline
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Um, millions of people in the US do not pay income tax just because they do not meet the minimum requirements but they are subject to the tax laws all the same and if they meet the conditions they woyuld have to pay (or they'd be breaking the law which, though is also done I do not recommend).

And, of course, you pay sales taxes and other taxes. But there *is* a way. . .

Some years ago I dated a woman who worked for a foreign embassy in Washington DC and she *did* have a card issued by the State Department exempting her from all taxes, state and federal. I loved that. We would go anywhere and she would sweetly say to the cashier "No taxes. please" and the cashier, often, never having heard of tax exempt status, would often be totally confused and sometimes even say "You think you have a choice?" Then the magic card would be produced and a confused cashier would call a supervisor, and time would go by and people in line would begin to sigh and if it was a small purchase we would ask ourselves if it was worth the hassle... so for most small purchases we just paid the tax.

But I remember a small store in MDs Eastern Shore. The woman, when presented with the card, raised a stink about "people not paying their share of taxes" and she went on and on and was extremely hostile. We explained to her that American diplomats are exempt from paying taxes in other countries and this is a reciprocity type of thing but that made her tirade even worse saying they too should pay taxes.... She was really and genuinely pissed that someone could be exempt from paying taxes. We left the store and had not taken ten steps outside when we discovered the product we bought was defective... we turned around and tried to exchange it but she said "Sorry, we've closed, you have to return tomorrow" and indeed that was it. Maybe she could not charge these furriners sales tax but, by golly, she was oing to make them miserable as much as she could. haha, I imagine she is still pissed off at something in Easton Md. Some people enjoy being pissed and the more unhappy they are, the more they enjoy it.
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