Clarkson graduated from Clemson University with a B.A. in Economics in 1969, then served with the 25th Infantry Division as platoon leader in Vietnam 1970-71, for which he made claims of post-traumatic stress disorder. He graduated from the University of South Carolina Law School in 1974 and was a member of the South Carolina bar until 1978, when he was disbarred for stealing from an elderly client. Clarkson died on March 1, 2010.
There is no law making anyone liable for the income tax; wages are not income subject to tax.
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As noted above, Clarkson was disbarred from the practice of law in 1978. In the Matter of Clarkson, 271 S.C. 5, 244 S.E.2d 512 (1978). In 2004, the South Carolina Supreme Court found that he had continued to practice law through his "Patriot Network," found him in criminal contempt, and ordered him to stop or face immediate imprisonment.
Clarkson had a series of Freedom of Information Act suits against the United States, with mixed results. In Clarkson v. IRS, 678 F.2d 1368 (11th Cir. 1982), the Eleventh Circuit held that Clarkson had substantially prevailed in an FOIA suit, and thus, the district court should consider whether to award costs to Clarkson. On remand, the district court awarded Clarkson costs on his FOIA claim, but rejected Clarkson's Privacy Act claim because the the records in question were within the scope of an authorized law enforcement activity. On the second appeal, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the rejection of the Privacy Act claims. Robert Clarkson v. Internal Revenue Service, 87 TNT 47-20, No. 85-8684 (11th Cir. 1/15/1987).
Clarkson then sued the Internal Revenue Service alleging that he had been labeled a "tax protester" and was the target of an "illegal political surveillance operation." The District Court dismissed the suit, finding no evidence of any illegal spying, political surveillance, or malicious recordkeeping. Robert Clarkson v. Internal Revenue Service, 88 TNT 175-19, No. 87-1621-3(K) (U.S.D.C. S.C. 7/15/1988).
In 1990, Clarkson sued the Internal Revenue Service again, alleging violations of the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. section 552), the Privacy Act 5 U.S.C. section 552a), and the United States Constitution. The court granted summary judgment to the government and dismissed the suit. Clarkson v. IRS, 90 TNT 147-26, CA-88-3036-8-3K (U.S.D.C. S.C. 1/31/1990 and 5/8/1990), aff'd 91 TNT 149-32, No. 90-1780 (4th Cir. 6/20/1991).
In April of 1994, Clarkson and two associates were indicted for conspiracy to impede, impair, obstruct and defeat the functions of the Internal Revenue Service under 18 U.S.C. § 371. All three were convicted, and they were sentenced to 57 months in prison. United States v. Clarkson, No. 5:1994cr00010 (W.D.N.C. 1994), aff'd sub nom. Fleschner v. United States, 98 F.3d 155, 96-2 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) Par. 50,536, 8 AFTR2d Par. 96-5475 (4th Cir. 1996), cert. denied, 117 S. Ct. 2484 (1997). He served his time, and was released from prison on April 26, 1999.
Finally, Clarkson was permanently enjoined from promoting his tax schemes. United States v. Robert Barnwell Clarkson, 100 AFTR 2d 2007-5108, 2007-2 USTC ¶50,558, 2007 TNT 135-15, No. 8:05-cv-02734-HMH (U.S.D.C. S.C. 7/3/2007). He apparently continued to represent and advise tax protesters (see the cases of Thomas Wane Marett and Carl Cook, described below), but was never found in contempt.
Since Clarkson's death, the website of "The Patriot Network" shows the name and telephone number of Nelson Waller as the primary contact.
Clarkson attempted to represent a man named Thomas Wane Marett in a collection due process hearing with an IRS appeals officer, and in the Tax Court challenge to the IRS determination that the collection actions should proceed. According to the Tax Court, Clarkson was advised that he was not permitted to represent the taxpayer, "but he continued to speak, offering only frivolous taxpayer arguments." When Clarkson appeared at the Tax Court hearing, the court ordered that he be removed from the courtroom. Thomas Wane Marett v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2009-14, note 5, No. 4048-06L, 2009 TNT 13-10 (1/22/2009) (IRS determination affirmed and sanctions of $5,000 imposed for maintaining a frivolous action), aff'd 345 Fed. Appx. 869, 2009 TNT 190-51, No. 09-1463, (4th Cir. 10/2/2009).
In two cases, the Tax Court referred to a pleading copied from the "Patriot Network" website as a "hodgepodge of frivolous, irrelevant, and spurious arguments." Carl Cook v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2010-137, No. 17963-08 (6/22/2010); Lee Roy Sullivan Jr. v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2010-138, Nos. 11054-09, 13323-09, 13324-09 (6/22/2010). In the Cook decision, the court identified Clarkson as the source of the pleading, and referred to the Patriot Network as "an organization that promotes tax avoidance and frustration and delay of collection efforts by the IRS." In both cases, deficiencies assessed by the IRS were upheld but no sanctions were imposed, the court merely warning the petitioners that they could be sanctioned up to $25,000 if they assert similar frivolous positions in the future.
See also, Rice v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2009-169, in which the Tax Court affirmed the imposition of frivolous return penalties, and the collection of those penalties by levy, against "an adherent of the principles espoused by Robert Clarkson."