From the December 2003 Idaho Observer:

Feds use defective summary process to enjoin former IRS CID agent from assuming clients' power of attorney in tax cases

by Phil Hart

In 1998 IRS CID Agent Joe Banister submitted a 92-page report to his bosses. The report outlined his research regarding the legality of the income tax he was collecting from the American people. He asked them to answer the questions posed by his report. They would not answer but did accept his resignation. Since 1998, Banister has been on the lecture circuit and has been helping defend people in tax court against his former employers. Apparently, the IRS doesn't like that.

Monday, December 1, 2003, in a San Francisco courtroom, Joe Banister got his first opportunity to face his accusers. However, this was after Banister had been found guilty of a variety of offenses including “disreputable conduct and gross incompetence.”

The Monday hearing was only for the court to hear arguments as to what the sanctions should be for Banister's disreputable conduct -- assuming power of attorney for people against the IRS.

Banister had been a criminal investigator with the IRS until he began his own study of the legal underpinnings of the federal income tax. Banister's personal study eventually led him to officially inquire with his superiors at the IRS as to the true legal authority of the internal revenue laws and the IRS's enforcement of them.

Banister's first crime appears to have been raising such questions with the IRS. Banister's superiors told him to either stop asking such questions or resign. In Banister's mind, IRS silence was an admission that there was serious problems with the federal income tax and, being a man of integrity, Banister chose to resign instead of continuing to perpetrate a fraud on the American people.

It was the Director of Professional Responsibility, representing an office within the IRS, who actually filed the complaint against Banister. Just as the IRS refused to answer Banister's questions while he was employed by them, so did the IRS refuse to play fair in this disbarment administrative process. The process to which Banister has been subjected is summarized in Banister counsel Robert Bernhoft's conclusion in his Opposition to Motion for Summary Disbarment:

“With Fifth Amendment violations, First Amendment concerns, and multiple material fact issues in dispute as to both the elements of the offense and Banister's defenses, Banister should not be summarily disbarred. The IRS has moved to summarily disbar their former whisleblower, Banister, without answering the questions he asked of them, without affording him an opportunity to achieve compliance with the rules prior to initiating this proceeding, without alleging the requisite facts that constitute the offense, without informing him he was under a parallel criminal investigation, without affording him any discovery, without permitting him to even 'argue' as to the merits of the statements IRS seeks disbarment for, and without even affording him a hearing.”

In closing arguments, the IRS argued that they were taking this action against Banister to protect the public. Bernhoft argued that the IRS was pursuing its own interests and not that of the public. After the sanctions hearing Bernhoft stated, “The gross violations of due process and fair play we have seen in this case to date will shock the conscience of anyone with a remote understanding of American jurisprudence.”

Originally the sanctions hearing was scheduled to take place at a military installation in the East Bay, effectively barring the public and the press from witnessing the hearing. Because so many Banister supporters protested, the hearing was rescheduled for a public courtroom at the San Francisco federal building. Judge Moran claimed that the military courtroom was the only courtroom they could find that was free for five consecutive days. However, the sanctions hearing that took place on December 1 lasted only 2 hours.

At a gathering of Banister supporters that took place after the hearing, both Banister and Bernhoft asked everyone to write their Congressmen and Senators objecting to the un-American way in which Banister has been persecuted by his former employer. Much of the court record can be found on Banister's website,

The future of our country is in serious peril when the bravest among us, like Joe Banister, are threatened with prison terms because they stood up for what is right, while those who are “just doing their jobs” for a paycheck are paraded in front of us as heroes. When the paycheck incentive is gone, and all the Joe Banisters are locked up, who will be left to defend our freedom?

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