Busted: Feds sue John Lloyd Kirk over $8 million tax scheme.
He spent 46 months in federal prison for making pipe bombs in the 1990s while a member of the Freemen, an anti-government group, but John Lloyd Kirk apparently isn't through sticking it to Uncle Sam.
Yesterday, the Department of Justice announced it is suing the Des Moines man for promoting an alleged tax scheme that supposedly bilked the government out of $8 million.
The feds say Kirk promotes the use of fake IRS forms, advising people to "file federal returns claiming huge tax refunds based on fake withholding." According to the DOJ, Kirk holds seminars to promote the scam, and 31 of his customers have taken the IRS for $8 million.
"Kirk's scheme is part of an ongoing trend amongst tax protestors to file frivolous tax returns . . . in an attempt to escape their federal tax obligations and steal from the U.S. Treasury," the DOJ said in court documents filed yesterday.
Here's what the DOJ means: In the past 50 years, a movement of "tax deniers" has taken off. It originated in Montana in the 1960s, but spread across the country and helped give birth to the "sovereign citizen" movement.
In the past year, Seattle Weekly has written two cover stories on the movement, which has many followers here, as well as in Idaho and Montana.
"Tax deniers are motivated by greed and paranoia," JJ MacNab, a leading expert who has written extensively about the sovereign movement, said in February. "In economic good times they worry about holding on to their income. In economic bad times they worry about losing their home."
The Anti-Defamation League, a non-governmental organization that fights anti-Semitism and bigotry, lists Kirk as a member of the "Little Shell Pembina Band of North America."
"The [group] is part of the anti-government 'sovereign citizen' movement," the ADL says. "Its members' activities range from driving with bogus license plates to perpetrating insurance fraud schemes to tax evasion."
Apparently Kirk's scheme worked, at least for a while--court records show that one of Kirk's clients received a $700,000 refund before the government caught on.
In July 1996, Kirk and six others, including his wife, Judy, were charged with a host of offenses, including the one he was eventually convicted of, possession of an unregistered destructive device. His wife was acquitted.
We reached out to Kirk via e-mail, but haven't yet received a reply. A phone number for Kirk could not immediately be located.