William J. Benson


William J. Benson was an "investigator" (really an informant) for the Illinois Department of Revenue when he was indicted and convicted for income tax evasion and Social Security fraud.

Theories Advocated/Promoted

Benson was an early proponent of the idea, and still claims, that the 16th Amendment was not property ratified. He has been selling a "Reliance Defense Package" while doing business as "Constitutional Research Associates."

Books, Web Sites, Videos, and Other Publications

With Martin J. ("Red") Beckman, Benson is the co-author of The Law That Never Was (1985), which claims that the 16th Amendment was not properly ratified.

Court Actions

Benson's "evidence" that the 16th Amendment was not properly ratified did not prevent him from being convicted of willfully failing to file tax returns and tax evasion, and his conviction was affirmed on appeal. United States v. Benson, 941 F.2d 598 (7th Cir. 1991).

More recently, Benson was sued by the United States to enjoin him from continuing to promote an "abusive tax shelter" by selling a "reliance defense package" based on his claim that the 16th Amendment was not properly ratified. The government's motion for summary judgment was granted on 12/17/2007, the court stating:

"The Government argues that Benson knew or had reason to know that the Reliance Defense Package contained false or fraudulent information concerning tax advice. Benson has not pointed to evidence that contradicts the Government’s assertion that Benson himself was prosecuted and convicted for failing to file federal returns while pursuing the very defense that he advocates in the Reliance Defense Package. Benson also admits that the Reliance Defense Package contains a copy of the decision in United States v. Benson, 941 F.2d 598 (7th Cir. 1991). (R SF Par. 22). In Benson, the Seventh Circuit explicitly rejected Benson’s arguments that the Sixteenth Amendment was not properly ratified. Id. at 607. Thus, the undisputed evidence shows that Benson had actual knowledge that the information in the Reliance Defense Package was false or fraudulent. Benson has also failed to explain how he could have reasonably believed his statements in the Reliance Defense Package to be true and lawful when his position had been previously rejected by the courts. [Citations omitted.] Therefore, no reasonable trier of fact could conclude other than that Benson had actual and constructive knowledge of the fact that the Reliance Defense Package contained statements concerning tax advice that were false and misleading."

United States v. William J. Benson, 2007 WL 4838232, 101 A.F.T.R.2d 2008-422, No. 04-C-7403 (U.S.D.C. N.D. Ill. 12/17/2007), aff'd 561 F.3d 718, 2009 TNT 64-26, Nos. 08-1312, 08-1586 (7th Cir. 4/6/2009), rehearing denied (7/21/2009), cert. den. No. 09-464 (11/30/2009).


Benson is frequently cited by tax protesters, and many people have been fined or convicted for relying on his claims. See, for example, United States v. Thomas, 788 F.2d 1250 (7th Cir. 1986), cert. den. 107 S.Ct. 187 (1986) and United States v. Wojtas, 611 F. Supp. 118 (N.D. Ill. 1985). More recently, Charles E. Hughes, of Dansville, Michigan, who had purchased Benson's "16th Amendment Defense Reliance Package," was convicted of four counts of tax evasion and sentenced to 15 months in prison. United States v. Charles Evans Hughes, No. 1:07-cr-00085-GJQ (U.S.D.C. W.D. Mich. 3/6/2008).

In the civil injunction action and appeal, Benson was represented by Jeffrey Dickstein. His petition to the Supreme Court names Larry Becraft as counsel.

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