The modern-day secession movement that has sprung up around the country in recent years is evidence that a number of states – as many as 20, stretching from New Jersey to Oregon to Texas – have citizens who would like to assert their independence from the federal government.
John Trowbridge Jr. found out the hard way that living in Texas means he is a U.S. citizen and is subject to U.S. tax laws.
In addition, district courts have the jurisdiction, and the Internal Revenue Code gives them the power, to hear tax cases and settle those disputes.
Trowbridge has been a long-time tax protester. He has on two prior occasions lost Tax Court cases regarding similar issues.
This particular case involved the district court, which had reduced Trowbridge’s tax liabilities for the years 1993 through 1997 to the amount of the associated tax liens on his property. The court foreclosed on the liens and then sold Trowbridge’s property for back taxes.
Trowbridge’s argument against the court is that he lives in Harris County, Texas, which he doesn’t consider a part of the United States, meaning that he is not, therefore, a U.S. citizen. He feels that he isn’t subject to the federal income tax laws and that the district court doesn’t have jurisdiction in his case.
The courts have already held in prior cases that citizens of Texas are also citizens of the United States, so Trowbridge lost that argument. There is also an Internal Revenue Code section authorizing the district courts to hear Tax Court cases and disputes, so he lost on that issue as well (United States of America v. John Parks Trowbridge, Jr., No. 14-20333, U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, Feb. 3, 2015).
Having lost his case with the court, Trowbridge was fined an additional $8,000 for bringing this frivolous appeal before the appeals court.