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Joseph R. Banister, C.P.A.

P.O. Box 90239
San Jose, California 95109-4239

Mr. and Mrs. John Jones
123 Main Street
San Jose, California

Dear Mr. And Mrs. Jones,

            There have been some recent events in my life that may or may not have come to your attention but I felt it was important to provide you and others close to our family with more details about those events in order to answer some of the questions you may have and hopefully avoid any misunderstandings that could arise from hearing information second hand.  Our children spent many years together in elementary school and we have been very grateful for the friendship that has developed between our family and yours.  I apologize in advance for the awkwardness of this situation but I hope that our shared Christian faith and moral values will foster appropriate solidarity and understanding.  Please allow me to provide you with some background information about me to facilitate a better understanding as to what has led to my current circumstances.


I was born and raised in San Jose and grew up on Naglee Avenue down the street from the Municipal Rose Garden.  I attended kindergarten at Trace Elementary and moved on to St. Martin of Tours where I completed all eight years of instruction there.  At St. Martin, I was active in after-school sports and “alter boy” service, and served as student body president during my eighth grade year (1977).  I then attended and graduated from Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose, the oldest Jesuit-run secondary school west of the Mississippi.  During my years at Bellarmine, I was a yearbook staff photographer.  I also paid for much of my tuition there though part time work at well-known San Jose establishments such as the “San Jose Mercury News” and “Race Street Fish & Poultry” (now “Race Street Foods”).

            After high school, I moved on to junior college at San Jose City College where I satisfied my general education requirements and went on to San Jose State University (S.J.S.U.) where I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration (Concentration in Accounting). I paid for my college tuition by working at another well-known San Jose establishment, Zanotto’s Deluxe Market.  Soon after graduating from S.J.S.U., I spent a short time working for Brewer and Wohlwend, Certified Public Accountants on the Alameda in San Jose and then landed a position in the tax department of KPMG Peat Marwick (now “KPMG”).  After three years at KPMG, I moved on to a controller position at U.S. Venture Partners (U.S.V.P.) in Menlo Park, California and fulfilled the requirements for a California Certified Public Accountant (“CPA”) certificate while at U.S.V.P.

            In the early ‘90s, during my time at U.S.V.P., I began to evaluate my career path up to that point and I decided that what I really wanted to do was to serve in the law enforcement profession.  I decided that the best fit for my accounting/finance background was a “special agent” (criminal investigator) position with either the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or the IRS Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID) and I submitted applications to both agencies.  The FBI was first to act upon my application and a full battery of aptitude, psychological, medical, and physical tests were administered.  I successfully passed every stage of the rigorous FBI evaluation process, which also included an exhaustive background investigation.  As luck would have it, even though I qualified for the FBI special agent position, an unexpected hiring freeze prevented me from obtaining final orders to report to the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia.

A Promising Career In The IRS Criminal Investigation Division Cut Short

After an extended period of waiting for the FBI hiring freeze to be lifted, I continued to work in the accounting profession but was eventually contacted by the IRS Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID) and offered a “special agent” position in the San Francisco office1.

I was subjected to a panel interview, a second exhaustive background investigation administered by the IRS Inspection Service, and other inquiries and testing, all of which I successfully fulfilled.  I was even audited as part of my IRS background investigation and my returns were found to be in perfect order (Exhibit 1).  I was officially sworn in as an IRS Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID) Special Agent in November, 1993 in Oakland, California.  I spent most of the first half of 1994 at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in southern Georgia, and earned various commendations for my performance there (Exhibit 2).

            I was very proud to have earned the special agent/criminal investigator position with IRS-CID and I worked very hard at my job (Exhibit 3). The following were among my accomplishments during my employment there:

  • Special Act Award (6/95)
  • Performance Award (9/96)
  • Sustained Superior Performance Award (8/97)
  • Top Athlete Award (12/97)
  • Promotion To Top Grade [13] before 5 year employment anniversary

I earned a reputation for being a very diligent and competent investigator, even garnering complimentary letters from the prosecutors I worked with (Exhibit 4).  I expected to spend the rest of my professional career as an agent for the U.S. Treasury but my career was cut short when I encountered, investigated, and confronted IRS management with evidence indicating that the agency was illegally administering the federal income tax system and thereby violating the rights of ordinary Americans.

Over a two year period from early 1997 until the early 1999, I conducted a thorough investigation, off-duty and at my own expense, into claims made by various researchers and activists that the IRS was administering and enforcing the federal income tax beyond what was authorized by law and that most Americans were not liable to pay the federal income tax but were deceived and intimidated into paying it.  Such claims would seem to be preposterous and unbelievable and I initially thought so too.  My expectation was that the falsity of such claims would be manifested quickly because false claims rarely withstand close scrutiny.  However, I was as surprised as anyone that I ended up encountering and accumulating significant amounts of evidence indicating that what at first appeared to be preposterous and unbelievable claims was, instead, able to withstand my detailed investigative scrutiny. 

            When I had gathered enough evidence to convince myself that the IRS could indeed be administering and enforcing much of the federal income tax under “color of law” rather than proper legal authority, resulting in the wholesale violation of people’s rights and fraudulent confiscation of their money and property, I met with my San Jose IRS supervisors to voice my concerns and share some of the evidence I had acquired.  I made it very clear to my supervisors that I had taken an oath to God to support and defend the U.S. Constitution and because of that oath, the 9th Commandment prohibition against bearing false witness against my neighbor, not to mention my general moral and ethical standards, I believed I had a duty to speak up about what I had learned through my investigation (Exhibit 5).

I had hoped that my direct IRS supervisors and their supervisors above them would, at a minimum, show me the error of my analysis and conclusions and address my concerns about the wholesale violation of people’s rights (Exhibit 6).  The Chief of the San Jose IRS Criminal Investigation Division instead responded to me by providing me with a very brief memorandum indicating that the IRS would not address my concerns.  The memorandum also encouraged my resignation and immediately placed me on administrative leave (Exhibit 7).  I thought that my exemplary performance in the agency would have merited a more congenial and meaningful response than the one I received but I was wrong.  My duty firearm was taken from me and I was sent home for 7 days to consider whether I had a future as a criminal investigator for the Internal Revenue Service. 

Given the suspicious refusal of IRS officials to discuss the concerns of one of their own investigators, I realized that the only way I could retain my integrity, abide by my morals, and comply with my oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution was to resign.  I prepared and submitted my resignation letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti and resigned from the IRS on February 25, 1999 (Exhibit 8) (see also and click on “RESIGNATION DOCUMENTS” in the upper left hand corner).

Life After The IRS

After resigning from the IRS Criminal Investigation Division, I appeared in or on over 150 radio shows, television shows, videos, and newspaper advertisements attempting to alert the public to my findings and experiences.  Some of these appearances can be viewed or heard at:




·  (April 12, 2004 entry and others)

I have traveled to Washington, D.C. many times with large groups of other concerned Americans to attempt to expose the wrongdoing committed by the Internal Revenue Service and to seek redress concerning that wrongdoing, even to the point of traveling to the U.S. Capitol to testify before the Senate Committee on Finance.  Although the Senate Committee on Finance prominently displayed in the hearing room a picture of one of the full-page U.S.A. Today advertisements I had appeared in along with two other former IRS officials, Sherry Jackson and John Turner, the committee Chairman Senator Grassley refused to allow me to testify.

Although the IRS, the U.S. Department of Justice, the House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, President Clinton’s administration, and President Bush’s administration were all well aware of my whistle-blowing efforts, none of the officials from those agencies or administrations has stepped forward to address the problem – but those same officials were apparently closely monitoring my activities nonetheless. 

The Federal Income Tax Enforcement Apparatus Turns Up The Heat

One of the earliest attempts to derail my efforts was to deny through its public affairs office in San Jose that I ever even worked in the agency’s criminal investigation division.  Later, the IRS attempted to destroy my otherwise excellent professional reputation as well as my livelihood because my efforts to expose the agency’s wrongdoing were apparently hitting their mark (see and click on IRS LOCKOUT UPDATE). 

Another one of the retaliatory campaigns the IRS waged against me was an attempt to prevent me from assisting clients with their IRS disputes (hence the “IRS LOCKOUT” term).  As I assisted various clients, I successfully exposed numerous false and fraudulent aspects of IRS payment demands against those clients.  Eventually, the IRS accused me of engaging in disreputable conduct in connection with two of those clients and later made further accusations relating to alleged willful failure to make income tax returns but during the administrative proceedings blocked not only my own testimony and nearly all of my evidence, but blocked testimony from the very clients I was alleged to have disreputably served as well.  Despite claims that the proceedings against me were for the protection of the public, the administrative law judge ordered that my hearing be held on “Coast Guard Island”, a military installation in San Francisco Bay virtually sealed off from the public (Exhibit 9).  Fortunately, the administrative law judge received faxes, emails, and telephone calls from concerned citizens across the country asking why a proceeding for the protection of the public was being convened away from public view.  The administrative law judge eventually reversed his order and relocated the proceedings to the San Francisco federal building (Exhibit 10). 

Unfortunately, the new surroundings did not change the “star-chamber” styled proceedings, but my persecutors’ contempt for the public’s interest in my case became more and more apparent (Exhibit 11).  The administrative law judge later ruled that I shouldn’t even have a hearing at all and moved directly to a “sanction” (punishment) proceeding (Exhibit 12).  During the sanction proceeding, the only government witness to testify under oath against me perjured himself on the witness stand (Exhibit 13).  Not at all phased by such lying conduct, the administrative law judge arrived at his “initial decision” that I be “disbarred” (prohibited) from formally assisting clients with IRS matters (Exhibit 14). 

I appealed the administrative law judge’s decision to the Secretary of the Treasury John Snow, which was the next step in the appellate process (Exhibit 15).  When the decision was rendered nearly 6 months after my appeal was submitted, I was stunned to see that Secretary Snow handed over his decision-making authority back to the IRS, specifically IRS lawyers in the IRS Office of Chief Counsel (Exhibit 16).  Thus, my appeal was heard by the very agency that had lodged the complaint in the first place.  The case continues and I am currently in the process of appealing the allegations to the judicial branch.

Not satisfied with the results of attempts to lock me out of IRS buildings and destroying my professional credibility, the IRS wielded yet another weapon from its arsenal and initiated a grand jury investigation seeking to indict me for assisting a client with a dispute with the IRS over a refund the client believed was owed and a dispute over withholding requirements.  The grand jury investigation began in 2001 and lasted until November, 2004, ending in an indictment against me for preparing false income tax returns and conspiring to defraud the United States.  The IRS and their enforcers in the U.S. Department of Justice have apparently decided that the only suitable response to silence a whistleblower once and for all is with a criminal prosecution (Exhibit 17). 

In effect, I have now been accused of criminal conduct for coming to the aid of a client who asserted his due process rights against the IRS and who honestly and sincerely disputed what the law required of him.  Unfortunately, it would appear that expecting and pursuing one’s first amendment rights and one’s due process rights has become grounds for criminal prosecution if the Internal Revenue Service is involved.

My efforts have been sincere and unselfish from the beginning:

  • I sacrificed a great deal both professionally and financially to become a federal agent in the first place.  My wife, my children, and I endured many months being apart from one another during my federal agent training.  We endured many thousands of dollars in reduced compensation to take the IRS special agent job in the first place.
  • When confronted with claims that the IRS was illegally taking money from people and bypassing or outright violating their rights, I diligently investigated those claims because I believed I had a moral, ethical, and legal duty to do so.
  • I resigned from a position I worked so hard to achieve and forfeited significant salary, benefits, and pension entitlements all because I knew that I had an obligation to speak up about the injustices I had investigated.
  • I have spent thousands of hours trying to expose, and put a stop to, IRS abuse, putting myself at great personal and professional risk, and my wife and children have endured significant uncertainty and hardship as well.


During my childhood, my father and mother taught me to be an honorable person and to be a leader rather than a follower.  During my elementary school years at St. Martin  of Tours, I learned about the sacrifices Jesus Christ made for us and was taught the golden rule and the Ten Commandments.  During my high school years at Bellarmine, I was taught to be a man for others (Exhibit 18).  At the IRS, I swore an oath to God to support and defend the U.S. Constitution.  As a Certified Public Accountant, I was and continue to be bound by the ethical standards of my profession.  Throughout my adult life, I have dedicated myself to adhering to the beliefs and principles instilled in me during my childhood and adolescence.  

I am not now nor have I ever been “anti-government” or “anti-tax”.  In fact, government service has been an integral part of my family life (Exhibit 19).  My father Ron, now deceased, retired from the City of San Jose Public Works Department, my uncle Gary retired from the county sheriff’s department, my brother John is a state police Sergeant, my brother Jim is a city fire department Captain, my brother Jeff is a city police department Officer, and my cousin Dennis is a city police department “K-9” Officer. 

Government is an important and necessary component of any community, whether local, state, or national.  However, it is well settled and understood that the power of American governments is derived from the consent of the governed and there is an expectation that government in America is held to a higher standard of honesty and integrity than in other countries around the world.  It is this higher standard of honesty and integrity that I have found the Internal Revenue Service and the tax enforcement apparatus to which it belongs to be deficient in.  Americans certainly have a right to honesty in taxation and I have encountered and accumulated enough evidence to prove to my satisfaction that the IRS has been dishonestly administering and enforcing the federal income tax system beyond what the law authorizes for a very long time.  The public deserves to have the IRS adhere to at least the same standard of honesty and obedience to the law that that the IRS expects from the public. 

            Despite learning at an early age about Christ’s invitation to take up our own cross and follow Him, I could not have imagined that this was the cross my family and I were expected to carry.  Still, with Jesus’ help and your prayers, we will carry that cross as we face this “David vs. Goliath” battle.  My ultimate purpose has been to seek answers from appropriate government officials regarding the dishonest and illegal conduct I have observed and documented.  I have always believed that oppression occurs because good people who recognize such oppression don’t speak up about it.  I vowed that I would never be one of those people.

            I will be defending myself against these allegations in a jury trial scheduled for June 14, 2005.  The trial will occur in Sacramento before U.S. District Court Judge William Shubb.  Please keep the Banister family in your prayers in the coming months and thank you for taking the time to read this letter.


Joseph R. Banister

P.S. To reduce expense and the bulk of the contents of this letter to you, I have arranged for the exhibits referred to herein to be published on the internet at 
The documents in these exhibits are only excerpts.  The complete documentation is available by visiting, clicking on “IRS LOCKOUT UPDATE” in the center of the screen, and scrolling down to documents listed there.  If you would like this letter emailed to anyone who has expressed interest in learning more about our circumstances, feel free to email me at and I will forward them a copy of this letter.  If you are so inclined, you can sign up for email updates about my case by visiting, and clicking on “Mailing List”.  Thank you again for your understanding, support, and prayers.

 1 Although the FBI was in the midst of a hiring freeze, the IRS, being under the Treasury Department rather than the Department of Justice, was not affected by the hiring freeze.