The late Tommy Keith Cryer had some fairly good legal credentials, including having graduated with honors from LSU Law School as a member of the Order of the Coif (kind of the legal equivalent of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society).
However, like many others who have joined the tax protester cult, Cryer seemed to have a history of emotional and financial problems. In defending himself against a disciplinary complaint that he had neglected a legal matter (for which he received a public reprimand), Cryer claimed to have suffered from depression. The commissioner of the Louisiana State Bar Association concluded that, during the period in question, Cryer had been "on the brink of an emotional breakdown and also in severe financial straits." The Louisiana Supreme Court agreed that Cryer's "inexplicable behavior" was due to "emotional problems." Louisiana State Bar Association v. Cryer, 441 So. 2d 734, 1983 La. LEXIS 12346 (11/29/1983). Cryer's financial situation apparently did not improve, and he filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 1998 (case no. 98-20213, U.S. Bankr. Ct. W.D. La.). A web site apparently run by Cryer himself described his wife, Carolyn, as "severely disabled" ("Welcome to the Lie-Free Zone"). He was therefore someone who had been under a lot of emotional and financial pressures over the years, and seems to have "snapped" and found his refuge in tax protester delusions.
On his "Truth Attack" website, Cryer maintained that:
- There is no law making working Americans liable for the income tax
- There is no lawful basis for treating personal earnings as 100% profit
- Our right to earn a living is as exempt from taxation as our freedom of speech
See below for other claims that Cryer made in court filings.
Books, Web Sites, Videos, and Organizations
Cryer was indicted for tax evasion in 2006 and responded by filing a motion to dismiss that is a classic (84-page) rehash of tax protester nonsense, including that the Internal Revenue Code does not impose any liability, that the I.R.C. does not define "income," that the 16th Amendment did not give Congress any new power to tax, that the source of income must be determined in order to decide if it is taxable, the section 861 argument, that the federal government cannot tax activities that it cannot regulate, that the income from a person's own labor is "fundamental right" that cannot be taxed, that compensation for labor is an "equal exchange" that does not result in gain, and that wages are not "income" within the meaning of the 16th Amendment. United States v. Tommy K. Cryer, No. 06-50164-10 (W.D. La. 2/7/2007). In its response, the United States referred to these arguments as "various tax protester claims" and as "pages upon pages of protester arguments that courts have previously rejected and discredited." Docket #26 (2/15/2007). The court rejected all of Cryer's motions to dismiss, but the government withdrew the felony charges of tax evasion before the trial began, and Cryer was tried on two counts of misdemeanor failure to file. Cryer was acquitted after a three-day trial, apparently having convinced the jury that his failure to file was not willful.
On 12/26/2007, Cryer filed a civil suit against the United States and certain employees of the Criminal Investigations division of the Internal Revenue Service alleging that during the criminal investigation preceding his trial the employees disclosed tax information about him in violation of 26 USC sections 6103 and 7213(a) and disclosed confidential grand jury testimony in violation of Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6. The complaint was dismissed on 5/9/2008 for failure to state a claim, the court finding that the conclusory allegations that "return information" had been disclosed were insufficient, and that the disclosures that Cryer was the subject of a criminal investigation were within the "investigative purposes" exception to section 6103 or the "good faith" defense in section 7431. Tommy K. Cryer v. United States, No. 5:07-cv-02206-DEW-MLH (U.S.D.C. W.D.La. 5/9/2008), affirmed, No. 08-30667 (5th Cir. 2/4/2009).
On 4/2/2009, Cryer filed a petition in Tax Court to contest deficiencies determined by the IRS for 1993 through 2001. Tommy K. Cryer v. Commissioner, No. 008118-09 (U.S.T.C.). According to the notices of deficiencies attached to the petition, the IRS determined that Cryer earned $3,921,253.00 during those nine years and owes $848,806.00 in federal income tax, $615,384.37 in section 6651(f) penalties for fraudulently failing to file tax returns, $212,201.50 in section 6651(a)(2) penalties for failing to pay the taxes when due, and $43,044.84 in section 6654 penalties for failure to pay estimated taxes, for a total of $1,719,436.71 in tax and penalties. Before Cryer's death (see below), he had negotiated reductions to the deficiencies, but the penalties remained unresolved. Following his death, no one stepped forward to represent his estate, but the Tax Court held that the government must nevertheless produce evidence supporting the penalties. After a review of the government's evidence, the Tax Court upheld the penalties for fraudulently failing to file tax returns, as well as the additions to tax for failing to pay taxes when due and failing to pay estimated taxes. Tommy K. Cryer v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2013-69 (3/11/2013).
The IRS had apparently been investigating Cryer's tax liabilities for the years 2002 through 2007, and had filed a petition to enforce an IRS administrative summons against Cryer. The district court ordered Cryer to comply with the summons, rejecting his claim of 5th Amendment privilege. United States v. Cryer, No. 5:09-cv-01144-TS-MLH (U.S.D.C. W.D. La. 6/16/2010).
Tommy Cryer died on June 4, 2012, at the age of 62.
In his criminal trial, Cryer's defense counsel was Larry Becraft. After his acquittal, Cryer and Becraft spoke with Edward Brown during the 7/12/2007 "broadcast" of the "Ed and Elaine Show" on the Internet-based "Republic Broadcasting Network." Robert Schulz also spoke during the broadcast. Cryer was also represented by George B. Harp, who has also represented the Save-a-Patriot Fellowship for John Kotmair.