2009-04-02 / Local & State

Pa. Tax Protester To Be Released - On April 15

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A suburban Philadelphia tax protester who once said he considered April 15 "April Fools Day'' has reason to take the date more seriously this year.

The annual tax filing deadline is, ironically, the day 46-year-old Arthur Farnsworth will be released from prison after more than two years following a federal tax evasion conviction.

"Everyone is getting a kick out of that date, but I don't think there's anything to it,'' Farnsworth told The Morning Call of Allentown on Friday during a brief phone call from the Federal Correctional Institution in Fairton, N.J., 50 miles southeast of Philadelphia.

Farnsworth said the release date may seem symbolic but is a coincidence, since his scheduled March release was delayed twice due to a loss of good conduct time. Prison spokeswoman Angel Levi said the date calculated based on Farnsworth's conduct just happened to fall on April 15.

Farnsworth, an engineer, is a former elected West Rockhill Township auditor who made unsuccessful bids for Congress and Bucks County commissioner. He was convicted in December 2006 of failing to pay an estimated $80,000 in federal tax from 1998 through 2000.

Authorities said he also operated a Web site critical of the United States tax system and offered tips on how to avoid paying federal income tax. Asked whether his position has changed, he asked rhetorically whether tax law has changed and added "I'm going to pay all of the taxes I'm required to by law.''

Farnsworth, 46, of Sellersville, about 40 miles north of Philadelphia, is part of the so-called "tax honesty movement,'' which argues that there is no law that requires people to pay state and federal taxes on their wages. They argue that income taxes are excise or privilege taxes that are voluntary, not mandatory.

Farnsworth said his top priority when he is released will be looking for a job.

"It's depressing,'' he said. "You come in here and you essentially are removed from friends and family and from my church back home.''

His case drew national attention when court testimony linked it to charges against actor Wesley Snipes. Federal authorities said documents found in Farnsworth's home in 2002 led to a nationwide investigation into fraudulent trust funds, one of which, authorities allege, was owned by Snipes.

Snipes, star of the "Blade'' movies, was convicted by a jury last year of three counts of willfully failing to file his income taxes. The actor, who said he was a scapegoat and unfairly targeted by prosecutors, is free on bond while he appeals the convictions and his three-year prison sentence.

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