Board Game Begets IRS Audit?

Did Waking Up America awaken the IRS?

by Don Harkins

While Barbara Fix was negotiating with conservative talk radio personality Chuck Harder’s organization "For the People" to mass produce her "politically incorrect" board game Waking Up America, Fix was notified by the IRS that she and her husband were about to have their finances for 1993, 1994 and 1995 audited.
The object of the game is to sell out your country.
The impetus for the board game "Waking Up America" came in 1993 after Fix, who was at that time an executive for a Palmer, Alaska, cellular phone company, attended a conference on the future of telecommunications in Orlando, Florida.
"At that time I was totally apolitical," said Fix, but after listening to telecommunications gurus such as Robert K. Heldman tell conference attendees that the responsibility of telecommunications was, among other things, to promote the advent of a cashless society, Fix immediately began to change.
"Although I managed to hide my feelings, I was shaking inside. I raised my hand and, playing the part of the ‘dumb blonde,’ which I am quite capable of doing," Fix said with a smile, "I asked Mr. Heldman, ‘Shouldn’t we be a little bit worried about privacy?’"
"I will never forget his response," said Fix.
Heldman, author of Global Telecommunications: Layered Networks, Layered Services (MacGraw Hill, 1992) and then director of technological strategies for US West Communications, said, in a most classic example of the arrogance displayed by elitist social planners, "It will be good for the people."
When she got back home, Fix, who could no longer consider herself to be "apolitical," began contacting "politically astute" people that she would have labeled "conspiracy theorists" only days before.
"People had said things to me over the years and I had basically dismissed them as being crazy. But, when I found out that the telecommunications industry was indeed conspiring to create a cashless society, I thought, ‘Oh my God, they were right!’"
"I began to study, I began to attend ‘People for the Constitution’ meetings in Anchorage and started listening to talk radio which I didn’t even know existed until then," explained Fix, who describes herself as "a born again patriot."
Fix was learning in leaps and bounds the depths of what can only be described as the systematic betrayal of the American people through the usurpation of our God given, inalienable rights. Fix, an extremely intelligent Christian mother of six children, was exposed at all times to the views and opinions of teenagers. Unable to keep what she was learning to herself, Fix continually confronted her teenagers and their friends with what she was discovering.
"The most common attitude of the teenagers would be to say, ‘Yeah, I know, but I don’t wanna hear about it,’" said Fix.
Fix knew that the future of America and our way of life depended upon finding a way to educate as many people as possible and as fast as possible. So, instead of bashing people over the head with the undiluted facts, she thought that an effective way to reach the largest amount of people would be to do it "with a little humor."
"The Clintons really created my game," said Fix in response to questions of how she could have designed such a complex and witty game in a remarkably short time.
Three months is all it took for Fix to have a prototype of the board game Waking Up America. By fall, 1995, the game was being introduced to Chuck Harder’s "For the People."
For the People was negotiating with Fix to produce 10,000 copies of the game through its merchandising director. The director died unexpectedly and Harder himself continued negotiations with Fix but would only commit to 1,000 games.
"Only producing 1,000 games increased the cost of production from $11 to $22, which would not have been cost-effective, said Fix, who then contacted Rush Limbaugh, Mike Reagan, Gordon Liddy and the Black Avenger Ken Hamlin in an effort to market Waking Up America. Though the game was announced and advertised on the air by Limbaugh, Liddy and Reagan, there were no serious commitments forthcoming through those notoriously conservative radio personalities.
"One of the options presented to me by more than one person was to have the game produced in China. Out of principle, I will never allow this game to be made in China," said Fix.
The undaunted and, according to people who know her, the perpetually energetic Fix contacted Anchorage computer software engineering company Anntech in an effort to make the game more affordable and accessible to Americans by making an interactive version available on CD-ROM.
"We had signed a contract with Anntech owners Ann Heisler and Tom Heisler to develop and produce the game on CD. It was an exciting opportunity because the cost of producing 10,000 games had dropped from $110,000 as a traditional board game, to $40,000 on CD-ROM."
On September 15, 1996, Fix received a one-sentence letter from the Heislers which informed Fix that Anntech was formally relinquishing all rights, control and responsibility to and for the game.
Enter IRS
By the time Anntech had done an about face and refused to have any further contact with Fix and Waking Up America, the Fixes were embroiled in an IRS audit which began while negotiating with For the People.
"I don’t want to sound paranoid, but if you get on the bad side of public officials, we have heard that you can expect a visit from the IRS," said Fix who, though she can’t exactly prove it, is certain that the IRS audit was initiated in response to her "politically incorrect" board game.
"A retired IRS agent friend of ours with over 28 years of field experience told me with certainty that we were ‘being taught a lesson,’" remembers Fix.
A number of strange things began to happen to the middle-class Fixes and a determination that they owed the IRS $18,000 was one of them.
"I was operating a bed and breakfast at our home and claimed all of the same start up cost exemptions that every other bed and breakfast operator in the state of Alaska traditionally claims."
IRS Auditor Rosalee Holcomb determined that because of the rules found in Section 280a of the IRS Code, none of the start-up expenses for her home-based business would be allowed.
Fix also noted that her case was being used in IRS agent workshops throughout the country as a precedent setting tool to "legally" disallow tax write-offs of capital expenditures for home-based businesses.
"Such tactics by the IRS are a tremendous abuse of power," stated Fix.
By this time, the Fixes had filed an appeal to the $18,000 IRS judgment against them and had sold their home in Palmer and had moved to Wallace, Idaho.
The Fixes petitioned the IRS to move their appeal to a location more convenient to their new home. They also hoped that a new contingent of IRS agents would listen to reason where the Alaska IRS agents would not. The IRS repeatedly denied the Fixes request for a change of venue until Representative Helen Chenoweth (R-Idaho) compelled them to do so.
"Chenoweth played an integral role in having our appeal moved closer to home and we are very thankful to her for that," said Fix.
"Unfortunately, the IRS transferred our appeal to Seattle and coincidentally transferred the IRS agent who was handling our appeal, Denise Mountjoy, to the Seattle office."
The IRS handled the Fixes appeal internally and, not surprisingly, failed to find that the original audit was unfair or incorrect. In October, 1997, the Fixes were notified that their appeal had been denied and that they still owed the IRS $18,000 for incorrectly itemized deductions for the years 1993-1995.
Fix went on to explain that "Right about the time our CPA informed the IRS that, since the IRS had chosen to deny the appeal, the Fixes will be taking the IRS to federal tax court, the IRS sent us another ‘love letter’ which, without much in the way of explanation, arbitrarily tacked on an additional $13,000."
Fix publicly aired her story at the Chenoweth IRS hearings which were held in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho, December 10, 1997. When asked if she thought the hearings would have any effect on diminishing the IRS’ power to terrorize the American public through the application of rules that it seems to make up as it goes along, Fix said that she doesn’t think that it will help her case, but IRS abuse did get into the dominant media and that "might help people to realize that they are getting taxed out of at least 50 percent of their income."

Waking Up America is a board game similar to Monopoly. Some examples of the playing cards are:

Money Matters Drawing Cards

You have won a government contract
to supply 25-horsepower paper shredders.
Collect $20 from the Peoples’ Bank.

You’ve just turned in your neighbor to
the BATF on trumped up charges. Collect
$100 and your 10% of seized property,
from the neighbor (player) to your left.

Get out of the Peoples’ Reeducation
Work Camp free. This unfortunate
incarceration isn’t your fault. It must
be related to your repressed childhood.
Save this card for future bailout.

Socialist Lotto Drawing Cards

Your land has been seized for
inadvertently running over a kangaroo
mouse. Pay $40 to the Peoples’
Relief Fund for legal retainer fees.

Your firm has been carefully selected
to perform drug testing on the
presidential staff members. Collect $65
in hush money from the Peoples’ Bank.

The EPA has found you disturbing a
nesting site while building your dock.
Pay $75 to the Peoples’ Relief Fund.

Stuff Happens Drawing Card

The BATF has confiscated your .22 rifle,
which mysteriously turned into a fully
automatic submachine gun. Go directly
to the Peoples' Reeducation Camp. DO NOT
pass Go Figure, DO NOT collect $220.00.

The IRS has swept your bank account for
monies you don’t owe. Pay $35 for NSF
check fees to the Peoples’ Relief Fund.

Your high school student can’t read or
write due to Outcome-Based Education.
Pay $35 in tutoring fees to the
Peoples’ Relief Fund.

Your three-person hunting party has been
found guilty of forming a militia. Go
directly to the Peoples’ Reeducation Work Camp
or pay $100 to the Peoples’ Relief Fund for bail.

To Order:

Though Waking Up America has yet to become produced commercially so that it can be found in retail outlets all over the country, the game is so sarcastic and so true and so funny, Fix is willing to offer interested people a more informal, yet playable version for $15--All you will need is a medium of exchange (funny money) and a pair of dice. Please call Barbara Fix at (208) 753-1015 for more information.