You'll notice that the name of this organization is Freedom Above Fortune, not Freedom Without Fortune or
Freedom Instead of Fortune. Rather, Freedom Above Fortune is an organization dedicated to the concept that
no amount of real or perceived economic prosperity or fortune is worth trading for your freedom. This is not
to say that pursuing economic prosperity, in and of itself, is bad. Rather, it is to say that those who are
willing to sell their freedom and their children's freedom for a few pieces of silver, as Judas did when he
betrayed Jesus Christ, are shortsighted and foolish. If you are willing to sell your freedom for short term
financial security, real or perceived, the willingness to sell your very soul can't be far behind.
Freedom Above Fortune was founded by Joseph R. (Joe) Banister, a former IRS Criminal Investigation Division
Special Agent who learned of serious constitutional questions relating to the federal income tax and the federal
banking and monetary systems. Mr. Banister's expertise in the fields of accounting, finance, taxation, and law
enforcement enabled him to not only understand these issues but realize that he could play a role in bringing
the issues into the public arena for analysis and debate.
IRS Says Former Agent is Disreputable - You Be The Judge
From: "Automailer - freedomabovefortune.com" firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: 2003/12/06 Sat PM 02:03:56 EST
To: Doug Kenline Subject: IRS Says Former Agent is Disreputable - You Be The Judge
IRS Says Former Special Agent is Disreputable - Read His Statement and You Be The Judge
Dear Friends and Supporters:
As promised, I am forwarding the statement I read to Administrative Law Judge Moran on Monday, December 1st, 2003, near the close of the sanction/punishment proceeding.
Soon I will be forwarding the closing statement made by one of my attorneys, Robert G. Bernhoft ( www.bernhoftlaw.com ). Again, don?t miss upcoming email alerts that will show you why, despite the short-term euphoria my IRS accusers are basking in with their efforts to discredit and silence me, we are so enthused about what lies ahead.
For those who have received this message as a forward from someone else, you can sign up for these messages directly by visiting www.freedomabovefortune.com and clicking on "Mailing List".
For those who are unfamiliar with what has transpired to date in this case, please visit www.freedomabovefortune.com and click on "IRS LOCKOUT UPDATE".
My sincere thanks to those who have prayed for the success of our efforts and contributed to my defense fund. I am even receiving repeat donations from some contributors. Your continued financial support is enabling me to illustrate, in detail and in a very public manner, that the IRS does not prevail against
citizens because the agency adheres to the rule of law, but that the IRS prevails against citizens because the agency ignores the law and overwhelms the citizen with economic and legal burdens. In a school yard, such tactics are called "BULLYING". This effort is the equivalent of ganging up on the bully and sending him to reform school where he belongs.
My Statement appears below.
Joseph R. (Joe) Banister, C.P.A.
Former IRS Criminal Investigation Division Special Agent
I would first like to assure the court that I have read and understand the order limiting what I am able to say in these proceedings. I object to the order limiting what I can say in these proceedings but will respect and adhere to it.
I have had a unique opportunity to view the administration, compliance, and enforcement of the federal income tax system and the operations of the Internal Revenue Service from different perspectives: The perspective of a citizen, the perspective of Certified Public Accountant assisting clients with IRS matters before my IRS employment, the perspective of an IRS Criminal Investigation Division Special Agent, and, lastly, the perspective of Certified Public Accountant assisting clients with IRS matters after my IRS employment, a perspective which has undoubtedly contributed to reason I stand here today.
As a citizen, my perspective on the federal income tax system and the Internal Revenue Service has not been unlike most Americans. I was first exposed to the
federal income tax system at the age of 12 when I was assigned my first newspaper route and was told by the San Jose Mercury News and my parents that some of the money I earned would be deducted out of my pay for income taxes. In my adolescent years, I learned that in order to reacquire some of the earnings taken out of my paycheck, I had to file an income tax form to get the earnings back. I had no negative perception or adverse reaction to performing whatever income tax compliance accompanied earning my pay. I did what I believed was required of me. In fact, my perception of the federal income tax system as a citizen was positive enough that:
I enrolled in, and graduated from, the accounting program at San Jose State
University where income taxation was heavily emphasized.
I pursued licensure as a Certified Public Accountant, and purposely developed
expertise in income tax matters.
And my perception about the income tax system was positive enough to make me
want to pursue a lifetime career as an Internal Revenue Service Criminal
Investigation Division Special Agent.
Clearly, my entire academic and professional life revolved around the federal
income tax system and for over a decade of my professional life I committed
myself to creating a reputation of excellence in that field. For over a decade
of my professional life and nearly 30 years of my personal life, I viewed the
federal income tax system as one of many legitimate and necessary functions of
government and was proud to have developed expertise in that discipline, first
as a tax professional and later as a criminal investigator for the Treasury
I am as surprised as anyone that my perspective on the federal income tax
system and the Internal Revenue Service changed during the time I served as an
IRS Criminal Investigation Division Special Agent. I sacrificed a great deal
to become an IRS Special Agent and I was more than willing to make those
sacrifices because I believed I was using my financial skills to protect the U.
S. Treasury against frauds and cheats:
? I willingly submitted myself to two thorough background investigations, one
administered by the FBI and one administered by the IRS, where the most
personal aspects of my life were examined.
? I lost my job because the FBI background investigation alarmed the firm I was
working for that I would not be able to continue in my position and spent the
next two years unable to find permanent work.
? I willingly experienced a $15-$20,000 initial cut in pay to become an IRS
Special Agent and was set back financially by tens of thousands of dollars as I
awaited my annual promotions at the IRS.
? I was subjected to a ?routine? employee tax audit, whereby an IRS tax auditor
examined three years of my previously filed federal income tax returns. I was
told beforehand that the auditor would treat me ?just like any other taxpayer?
and I soon learned what that warning meant. After thoroughly reviewing my
returns and the income and deduction evidence I submitted to him, the IRS
auditor alleged that I owed thousands of dollars in back taxes. I was shocked
that the IRS auditor would make such an allegation not only because I sincerely
believed I had prepared my returns accurately but because I wondered what such
an allegation, if sustained, would do to my credibility as an IRS criminal
investigator. Fortunately for me, I knew how to evaluate the IRS auditor?s
allegations. I determined that he was misapplying the applicable statutes and
regulations and showed him the proof. While reviewing my old documents, I
discovered other deductions that I had neglected to take and brought these to
the attention of the IRS auditor. Eventually, he was forced to not only
retract his allegation of additional tax due but approve a refund for the
deductions I had missed. What started as a claim by an IRS agent that
thousands of dollars in back taxes was owed turned into about a $1,000 refund
in my favor and a letter from the District Director commending me on my
honesty, but only because I knew how to rebut the IRS auditor?s claims and I
was not afraid to do. This experience most definitely affected my perspective
on the manner in which the federal income tax system is administered and it
caused me to wonder what such an audit might be like for the average citizen
and what happens to them when they are not sophisticated enough or brave enough
to battle with an IRS auditor who is demanding back income taxes based on
? I spent 16 weeks away from my wife and children as I trained to become an IRS
? I willingly withstood the questioning and even scorn of other CPAs who
inquired why I would move from the lucrative private sector into government
I worked extremely hard while serving as an IRS Special Agent:
? I was elected president of my training class for the first 8-week training
class by over 40 of my peers and maintained a 95% academic average.
? My peers re-elected me president of my training class for the second 8-week
training class and maintained a 93% academic average.
? I earned a Special Act Award in June, 1995
? I earned a Certificate of Recognition in March, 1996
? I earned a Performance Award in September, 1996
? I earned a Sustained Superior Performance Award in August, 1997
? I earned and a Top Athlete Award in December, 1997
? I served as the Asset Forfeiture Coordinator and the Organized Crime Drug
Enforcement Task Force Coordinator for the IRS Criminal Investigation Division
Central California District
? and I earned at least 5 grade and step within grade promotions beginning at
the GS-7 level and eventually progressing to the GS-13 level
During the last two years of my employment with the IRS Criminal Investigation
Division, I encountered and accumulated information and evidence about the
inception and administration of the federal income tax system and the practices
of the Internal Revenue Service that deeply disturbed me and contributed to a
change in my perspective. I believed that I had a moral, ethical, and legal
duty to evaluate the information and evidence. Once my evaluation of the
information and evidence was substantially completed, I believed I had the
moral, ethical, and legal duty to submit it to my supervisors for their
evaluation and comment. I fulfilled that duty. They refused to address my
concerns and encouraged my resignation. After my resignation, I humbly asked
the local IRS office to meet with me to discuss what the tax laws required of
me. The District Director wrote me a very gruff response providing only a
pamphlet and a refusal of my request for a meeting. I have traveled to
Washington, D.C. numerous times where I joined many other Americans in an
attempt to petition government officials for answers and guidance, including
the IRS and the U.S. Department of Justice. The IRS and Dept. of Justice went
to extraordinary lengths not answer our questions or petitions, even reneging
on oral and written promises to answer our questions. The court has prohibited
me from describing the information and evidence I encountered and the beliefs I
formulated both during and subsequent to my years at the IRS, dismissing all of
it as ?tax protester? arguments and ?tax protester? beliefs. Interestingly
enough, my perspectives and beliefs are an integral component of the
allegations leveled against me, given that the IRS allegations used words
I have been forbidden from confronting my IRS accusers to evaluate what, if
any, evidence they have accumulated to prove that my conduct was willful,
knowing, conscious disregard, intentional, or reckless. I have been forbidden
from introducing my own evidence proving that my conduct was not, in any way,
willful, knowing, conscious disregard, intentional, or reckless. I have been
forbidden from presenting evidence of the number of times I have petitioned
government officials in good faith for a redress of grievances in connection
with the income tax and IRS injustices I have encountered.
For reasons I do not understand, I have been unable to impress upon my IRS
supervisors, IRS collection personnel, IRS appeals personnel, IRS management,
the IRS Assistant Commissioner, the IRS Commissioner, the Treasury Inspector
General?s Office, the Treasury Department, the U.S. House of Representatives,
the U.S. Senate, the Supreme Court, the Clinton Administration, the Bush
Administration, and even an administrative law judge from the Environmental
Protection Agency that the IRS, as an agency, is engaged in serious wrongdoing,
which brings me to the point of describing the most recent perspective I have
gained about the federal income tax system, that of my role as a Certified
Public Accountant assisting clients with IRS matters after my resignation from
the IRS. It is the performance of that role, of course, that has brought me
here to this courtroom.
Once I resigned from the Internal Revenue Service, my detailed knowledge of
the IRS?s wrongdoing increased at a seemingly exponential rate. I believe that
the IRS routinely skips or ignores its administrative due process procedures
because I have witnessed it. I believe that the IRS treats citizens who refer
to or quote from sections of the Internal Revenue Code, Code of Federal
Regulations, the Internal Revenue Manual, or heaven forbid, the U.S.
Constitution, basically anyone who desired to compare IRS agent conduct to the
laws that governed their conduct, as ?tax protesters? rather than concerned
citizens because I have witnessed it. I believe that IRS agents routinely and
illegally exceed their delegated authority because I have witnessed it. I
believe that the IRS purposely and fraudulently manipulates its Individual
Master File computer system to achieve desired results against the unsuspecting
public because I have witnessed it. And I believe the IRS targets for
economic, reputation, and livelihood destruction anyone who opposes it because
I have witnessed it. Indeed, I have lived it.
I believe my perspective about the federal income tax and the IRS as a
Certified Public Accountant assisting clients with IRS matters is consistent
with the teachings of my Christian faith and the ethics of my profession. The
teachings of my Christian faith were indelibly etched in my mind, especially as
a young man attending Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose, California,
where the school motto has always been ?Be A Man For Others?. My father, who
also graduated from that same institution, made sure that this phrase became
more than a motto in my life, but a code to live by. My Christian faith
forbids me from bearing false witness against my neighbor. I therefore have
always been candid and truthful in my personal and professional life. The
ethics of my profession instruct that I must not only do my best to distinguish
between right and wrong but always try to do what is right. I have adhered to
the ethical principles of my profession throughout my career, and most
fervently during my service as an IRS Special Agent and over the last four
years since resigning from the Internal Revenue Service. In fact, upon
resigning from the IRS, I was required to take a mandatory ethics examination
to reactivate my CPA certificate. The preparation materials spoke of the
following guidelines, which I had highlighted for emphasis:
? ?Ethical decisions always consider the effects on others. Unethical
decisions disregard the human consequences.? (pg. viii)
? ?Every person is an independent moral agent capable of making choices and
accountable for the consequences of those choices.? (pg. ix)
? ?A separate and morally superior source of ethical obligation is the
individual?s ethical value system which forms the conscience.? (pg. x)
? ?A common excuse made by those who act improperly is that they were required
to do so at risk of their job or career. This excuse does not free one of the
obligations of conscience and ethical duty since neither popular opinion nor
occupational or regional norms of behavior override sincerely held ethical
values.? (pg. x)
I believe that I have a moral and ethical obligation to zealously advocate on
behalf of my clients.
? I worked diligently for them and I believed I had an obligation to make sure
the administrative record reflected as many relevant facts as possible.
? I had performed many hours of diligent research and consulted with
? I incorporated provable facts and evidence into documents submitted to the
? I was honest and open with my clients and with IRS personnel.
? I never made statements that I knew to be false.
? I believed I was following my clients? instructions and attempting to defend
them against IRS officials who were determined to devour them. To my knowledge
neither of them have ever complained about the services I rendered to them. In
fact, they complemented me on my vigorous defense.
? I truly believed that the Internal Revenue Service officials, both past and
present, had at the very least deceived and at the very most defrauded my
clients and it was my obligation to come to their aid.
In closing, I would ask the court to consider that its decision to eliminate
all discussion and examination of my credibility, experiences, beliefs, and
intentions in connection with my conduct when all of the allegations leveled
against me are based on just such criteria. Impugning my beliefs and
experiences while denying me an opportunity to have those beliefs and
experiences displayed and examined is wrong and inconsistent the American
tradition of fairness and justice. I hope that the court will recognize that
my core belief system would never allow me to knowingly, intentionally or
willfully engage in any of the conduct the IRS has alleged in its complaint.
Silence in the face of wrongdoing is as bad as the wrongdoing itself.
IRS WHISTLEBLOWER - THREAT TO THE ENVIRONMENT OR ENDANGERED SPECIES?
From: "Automailer - freedomabovefortune.com" email@example.com
Date: 2003/12/03 Wed PM 02:38:29 EST
To: Doug Kenline firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: IRS WHISTLEBLOWER - THREAT TO THE ENVIRONMENT OR ENDANGERED SPECIES?
Dear Friends and Supporters:
Please accept my apologies for not getting word out to you sooner. It was necessary to postpone many other aspects of my personal and day to day work life in preparation for the Monday event. Frankly, the preparation for, and participation in, the process was also mentally and physically exhausting. Please rest assured that although the timing of the news may not be predictable, the news itself will astound you. Visit www.freedomabovefortune.com and click on IRS LOCKOUT UPDATE for the latest documents and information:
The proceeding, termed the "Sanction Phase of The Proceeding" by Judge Moran, began as scheduled at 10:00 AM PST on Monday December 1st in an available U.S. Tax Court courtroom. As you will recall, Judge Moran had originally ordered that the proceeding would take place on Coast Guard Island ("CGI"), a secure military installation only accessible by bridge, but he reversed himself on the eve of the hearing and announced that the proceeding would instead be convened at the San Francisco federal building located at 450 Golden Gate Avenue. Incredibly, the IRS was also adamant that the proceeding not be public but also reversed its opposition to the location change. Not a seat was empty in the courtroom, although I recognized up to a dozen plain clothes and uniformed law enforcement personnel in the courtroom and hallways, this despite the fact that no one was admitted into the building without photo identification, bodily passage through a metal detector and personal effect passage through an x-ray machine. Even Judge Moran had two bodyguards in close proximity to him at all times, bodyguards I believed to be armed Special Agents from the Environmental Protection Agency. One agent seated himself directly behind my chair. The agent apparently had been instructed to watch me closely, since I am most definitely a threat to the environment, the environment of cheating and deceit that I have been trying to expose.
Judge Moran explained at the outset of the proceeding that he had already resolved all of the issues prior to commencement of the proceeding except for the severity of my punishment, one of many Moran decisions that will be scrutinized in the very near future (stay tuned). After denying me the opportunity to examine the government's evidence, examine the government's witnesses, present my own evidence, and present my own witnesses, Judge Moran ruled that there were no material facts in dispute and that a full hearing was unnecessary. In effect, the Monday proceeding was about how high to hang me rather than whether or not I should hang.
My attorneys waived an opening statement and IRS Attorney Jay J. Kessler gave his opening statement, recapitulating part of the procedural history of the case. Interestingly, the procedural history that Mr. Kessler recounted made no mention of Judge Moran's numerous orders excluding evidence and witnesses. The IRS attorneys questioned only one witness during the sanction phase, David M. Finz, a Senior Attorney in the Enforcement Unit of the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility. Mr. Finz was first examined by IRS Attorney Bridgette M. Gibson and cross examined by attorney Robert E. Barnes of the Bernhoft Law Firm. Gibson then engaged in "re-direct" examination of witness Finz. During Finz's testimony, Attorney Robert Bernhoft occasionally objected to Finz's answers as "non-responsive" because of the long-winded answers Finz provided that, in Bernhoft's view, never answered the questions posed to him. Bernhoft's objections were overruled by Judge Moran.
I was then afforded the opportunity to make a statement to the court, which I will soon make available on the internet (stay tuned).
Next, each side was given the opportunity to give a closing statement to the court. IRS attorney Kessler delivered his closing statement first. Kessler's statement covered a wide variety of ills that I was allegedly responsible for, and went so far as to state that I was using my former position as an IRS Special Agent to hustle unsuspecting citizens and was motivated by greed. Robert Bernhoft then gave his closing statement emphasizing, among other points, that the case against me was commenced to protect the institutional interests of the IRS rather than the interests of the public, that the IRS, my accuser, had a long and well-documented history of abusive conduct making it impossible for the agency to wear the mantle of champions of the public interest, and that the IRS would like nothing better than to chill zealous client advocacy in IRS matters.
Judge Moran then gave a closing statement. Among other things, he stated that he would render his decision on my punishment shortly after he received and reviewed the transcript of the proceeding, which will probably occur in the next few weeks. In a transparent bout of gratuitous pandering, and in stark contrast to his previous ruling that the proceedings be closed to the public and the press, Judge Moran expressed concern that there would not be sufficient publicity regarding his impending sanctions decision. He went so far as to suggest that the IRS and the Bernhoft Firm work together to ensure that the reasons for his decision be adequately publicized.
This case continues to expose the true IRS, the IRS whose terrible and deserved reputation is a matter of public record, not just anecdote. The continued IRS attempts to retaliate against me can only serve to expose an entire income taxing apparatus that, on the surface, portrays itself as a friend of truth and defender of justice, but in reality belies much more sinister actions and goals. While individual executive branch officials portray themselves as your trusted servants, their sinister agenda continues to wreak havoc on the rule of law and principles that form the very foundations of our liberty.
My legal team has informed me of a virtual laundry list of government misdeeds in this case, some of which I recognized myself and others only experienced legal minds can recognize. Nonetheless, the implications are so profound that I myself was shocked. Your continued spiritual and financial support is enabling me to fight this battle on behalf of every American that has ever been railroaded by this out-of-control government. I believe that this case will result in profound and positive change for all Americans, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for providing me with continued spiritual and economic support to fight this important battle.
Don't miss upcoming email alerts that will show you why, despite the short-term euphoria my IRS accusers are basking in their efforts to discredit and silence me, we are so enthused about what lies ahead, and don't forget to spread the word to others!
This report was prepared by Joseph R. Banister, who graduated in 1986 from San Jose State University with a
Bachelor's Degree in Accounting. He spent three years at KPMG Peat Marwick on their professional staff as a
senior tax specialist and staff auditor. He then spent nearly two years in the venture capital industry during
which time he became a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in the State of California. Mr. Banister left
public practice as a CPA in 1993 when he accepted appointment as a Special Agent (criminal investigator) in the
Department of the Treasury, IRS Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID). Unable to resolve conflicts between
the way the IRS administered the Federal Income Tax and Mr. Banister's oath of office, he resigned from IRS-CID
on February 25, 1999.