Taos Land & Film Company: Where Taos Land Sales Fund Independent Films

Bob Ralston

TAPE #20
00/30 ...My name is robert Ralston, I'm a special agent with the criminal
investigation division of the IRS in Lubbock Texas. I've been employed
since 1972. I've been a special agent my whole career...
2/45 ...well I graduated from Texas State Univesity and I knew, a friend
I'd grown up with was a special agent...the job market was not real good
back then , but I thought it would be something I'd like to do, so I interviewed
with them and was lucky enough to get hired...and I didn't have to move...been
here ever since.
3/20 ...yes, I started , at that time it was called the intelligence
division, since then it's been changed to Criminal Investigation Division...
3/45 ...It's an interesting job. Your'e out of the office a lot. You
deal with many different types of people, there are many different people
with many different schemes on how to avoid paying their taxes or evading
their taxes, let me put it that way ...and it's a challenge to find that
and to ....to the people are breaking the law and you attempt to prosecute
them for those crimes and let them deal with their punishment...4/27 ...
04/43 ...well, I'm asked that question a lot ...cause IRS does not have
a good...people don't like to pay taxes...it's a job, a professional job...it
needs to be done...the country operateds on the tax system ...thats the
major source of the revenue and everybody needs to abid by the law and pay
their fair share... and so I think in the most part people understand, of
course there's going to be a few who don't understand, but I think they
do, probably more people than don't....thinks it would be an interesting
job and of course it is...5/38...
6/17... yes, sometimes, I can remember it has...whenever you're working
a case, you're constantly confronted by people...they don't want to cooperate
with you all the time...they're somewhat reserved in talking with you...so
there's this constant battle that you're hitting and like anything at some
point in time you get tired of it...but, not really after you successfully
work a case...that you did a good thing, a rightr thing , that what you
did makes a difference, and ...yeah, there are times, when you've got this
constant attitude towards you, it can affect you sometimes...7/21...
8/05 ... well, when I started back in 72, was about the time when this
quote tax movement started... we started to see these 5th amendment filed
returns and they didn't file any information... and they invoked their 5th
amendment privelege... a lot of his people that his associated with lived
in Midland/Odessa area... a lot of oil people got involved with this movement...
9/05 ...I remember this case was assigned to me, because during that
time, there were , like I say, we were getting these protest returns in,
I think his was one of them... he also, had been attending meetings, I think
he was involved with a group called the United Tax Action Patriots, which
was formed in the midland/odessa area...he was one of the probably, a member
for that group... they bought air time...9/48... at some tv stations in
midland/oddessa and they got up there and blatantly outwardly on public
TV said that they didn't agree with the income tax laws of the united states,
they were unconsitutional and they weren't going to abid by them. So they
publicly made these statements, that I'm not going to pay my taxes...10/10
they also appeared on some radio talk shows... and they espoused their beliefs
and really said, heh, here I am, what are you going to do about it...10/28
...and of course, the whole system is based on voluntary filing of this
return...10/37... they said, that to me, that it was voluntary, that you
could do it well it's not, it's a voluntary system in that we're allowing
to voluntarily report the correct amount of taxes and pay your fair share...
10/51 ...you know when people see this, they wonder what's going to happen
to these people? How can these people get up there on TV and they're breaking
the law...and hadn't paid taxes in x-number of years or I'm not going to...11/03...
what's going to be done about it... and of course to help our voluntary
compliance and to keep some integrety with our laws we've got to do something
about it...11/13... I was assigned his case and it went from there...11/18...(CUT
11/37... WELL, I don't know, I don't guess necessarily, people read that
stuff the way they want to read it...I wouldn't want to live in a country
where they came by and knocked on your door everyday and said, heh, you
owe me a thousand dollars, pay up right now. I think it's a good system,...I'm
not saying it's not without it's flaws...as you were saying earlier, all
govts. are not perfect, but it's the best one I've seen around. ...and I
don't know if I'd change that or not...12/15...
12/28... it might have been, could have been worded differently, but
at the same time I think they wanted to give the impression that we're not
going to come knock at your door, we're going to trust you to do what's
12/48 ...yes sir, he was I believe so, because I think on this particular
TV show, the best I can remember and I'm not really sure if this is how
I found out he was associated with the posse or if it was from the people
down in Crane...we were aware of this organization and the beliefs of this
organization and we were concerned at the time and we took appropriate precautions,
whenever we're dealing with somebody who would be a member of an organization
like this... yeah, I'm almost positive I can remember him being on the TV
show and him saying, he was a member of the posse comitatus...13/36...
13/44 ...I don't recall, I don't know if we knew it was coming on or
if we heard later and went and saw tapes of it...if we knew it was coming
on, we may have watched it and taped it ourselves...there were several meetins
over a time period... it could have been over several years that every so
often these people would be on it...14/15...
14/31... there's no telling where it is...it would have probably been
used in the courtroom...14/45 ...I think probably evidence presented at
court during trial was that he appeared on these shows...I don't think we
showed film in the courtroom, we might have had transcripts, or something
like that, but I can't rmember...15/01...
(JJ asks about the factory men who stopped having witholding)
15/32 ...I don't if it was the direct result of these TV shows, they
also had meetings ...at some motels, once a month or once a week or once
every other week, I can't remember how often they were...they also held
meetings, they tried to thru word of mouth, get people to attend these meetings
and to hear their philosophy on the whole situation and pass out pamphlets...and
I understood that they.. 16/07... tried to assure them that what they were
doing was right and people across the country were doing the same and they
weren't alone, and that if they unit together and they get a number of people
it was all going to work out fine...16/19... (CUT W/BUFORD/JOAN/MARLENE)
16/22... and then by word of mouth they tried to get people to follow...I
don't know if it was a direct result of the TV shows but, the tax protest
movement in Midland/Odessa did get growth for a while by sheer , just, by
what this guy does , and if he's saying what he's sayings true, well that
sounds good, if I can file a W4 claiming 40 allowances, which was the only
way at that time that a wage-earner at that time could avoid from paying
his taxes or keep from paying his taxes, that's the only way that a wage-earner
can do it. so, we did have a rash of people filed these fraudulents W4
forms, claiming however many exemptions they needed to wipe out all of the
17/52... see, this movement, like I said it started, it evolved over
a time period of several years that we got more of these protest returns
in ...and they would sell these protest packages at these protest meetings
to show you how to file this, and if you ever need help, we'll ... 18/18...
(CUT W/BUFORD)... supply you with legal advice and maybe ever get you an
attny. to help you at your trial, but we need to stick together on this
thing...well, there was so many of em , started working a lot of em ...and
then they started to get convicted, started to find out when it came to
trial time, heh, where's the legal help? ...18/37... where's the guy who's
going to help me? Well, we didn't lose a case...18/43... and all these
people who filed these false W4s and failed to file returns or filed to
file a proper return, were convicted and being sent to prison and then after
so many people got convicted and saw that ...19/02......that what these
people had been telling em, heh, it's going to work, it wasn't working they
were going to jail and it died down and to this point we don't have a problem...19/13...that
I'm aware of, so if they're not filing, they're certainly not filing the
protest documents anymore...19/20...
20/18... well I think it 's a situation, we certainly didn't want to
violate their right to say what they want to say, but when a man gets up
and says, I'm going to break the law because I don't agree with it and then
in fact does it...you can't turn your eyes away and not do something about
it... 20/40... because it could have a devastating effect on the people's
whole perception of what our job is, I mean, if he gets up and says I'm
going to break the law and does it and he gets away with it and we're not
going to do anything about it, then, it gives them a little more credence
to their story or gives them a little more to the idea that well, maybe
he's right...of course they weren't right, they were wrong...21/06...
21/17 ...Was there danger,.. did we perceive danger from these people,...
yeah, we were always very cautious...cause we had heard about what their
beliefs were , and their little blue booklet that they had , and it set
forth their , what the posse comitatus stood for and what they belived in...21/45...
there was a section in it about taking anybody who breaks the law and hanging
em by the neck until dead on the busiest street corner in town to serve
as an example...21/58... and when you get anybody that gets into a protest
scenario or situation and starts saying we're going to take the law into
our own hands... yeah, it made us aware that there could be...22/23...possible
problems and we were always prepared for it and used caution with them...
heh, look what happened in '83...22/35... it happened, and that could have
happened at any point in time and you don't know when it will snap... 22/43...
23/06... well, I cna't remember for sure cause it's been so long ago...
at some point in time, I got assigned the case... it just so happens that
we got the returns and then all of a sudden and then he was getting active
in the movement...that just helped prove our case , to show that the protester
was out doing it... it was he was convicted for failure to file the proper
tax returns , and to supple the proper information to the govt. on which
to calculate his tax... the best I remember, I basically worked the case...24/13...
before I had a talk to Mr. Kahl...and then after I got it completed,
I wanted to give him an opportunity to come in here and offer anything
that he felt that he wanted to offer...I had been thru other investigations
that involved tax protesters...24/41... and they don't cooperate with you.
Course in a criminal investigation they don't have to cooperate with you...
they've got the 5th amendment right...and so , but this was usually the
case when working people involved with the tax protest movement...and you
normally never got anything out of an interview with them...because they
wanted to sit there and they wanted to discuss...25/04 ... the merits of
whether the income tax laws were constitutional or not...so this is what
I did and I did offer Gordon Kahl the interview ...he came in in his normal,
best I remember, we interviewed him in the Odessa office...he brought his
normal , which they usually do, bring in ten or twelve people with them...with
their tape-recorders and they sit there in your office with you and they
attempt to intimidate you...that's what they want to try to do...25/39...
and that's what they talk about at these meetings, is to intimidate the
IRS agents... well, I can't remember how long the interview lasted, but
it didn't last very long...because, what occured, was what I anticipated
occuring, and Mr. Gordon Kahl, he told me that he didn't really have anything
to say, but he started talking about his religious beliefs and how he thought
the income taxz laws were unconstitutional and basically that I was serving
two gods and I couldn't do that... 26/17... and that I was going to hell...matter
of fact and so after he got thru his little spiel that he wanted to say,
I terminated the interview, I told him right there that it was a waste of
his time and my time and I didn't want to sit there and talk about whether
the tax laws were constitutional or not, that I wanted to give him an opportunity
to come in and offer anyting that I might need in order to recommend whether
he be prosecuted or not...26/48... and that didn't happen and they left,
without problem, there was no confrontation or anyting...26/55...
27/14 ... now on critical interviews, we always have a witness, I made
sure I had a witness there that day...
END TAPE @ 20:27/57
TAPE 20:28
28/45 ...I had called GK a day or two or a week prior to being in odessa
and told him I had been investigating him...29/08 ...he did show up at the
office with a group of people, I can't remember how many 8 or 10 ...with
their tape recorders... trying to intimidate you... I advised him of his
rights and he understood those... I can't remember exactly how the interview
went... it didn't last too long...
29/50 ... in a lot of his correspondence with the IRS he stated his religious
beliefs... ...
...30/18 I do remember him telling me that I was serving two gods and
that I couldn't do that and that I was going to go to hell... I was serving
the devil...the IRS was the work of the devil and he didn't believe in it...30/34
31/03 ...at that point in time we wrote our report and it went thru
channels... the states attny office for indictment, he was indicted and
we went to trial in Midland...
31/40 his attnys were Buford terrel and lewis terrel... it was a short
case... he had been a wage earner for an oil company and he had income from
the rental of his farm...
33/08 ... I had back to back trials, another one of Kahl's associates,
William Reinhardt... they were back to back, basically over the same issue...they
were both convicted... there was some concern at that time...from some information
I had recieved from law enforcement officials in Crane 33/48 ...that uh,
both Gordon Kahl and his sons Yori and Frederick , they had no respect for
law whatsoever, they didn't have driver's licenses, didn't obey traffic
laws and such as that so there was some concern and GK was a member of the
posse comitatus,.. so there was a chance that he would flee....so I think
the judge was wondering what to do...whether to let him out on bond pending
sentencing...I remember his attny asked that he should have some examination...34/43...so
I believe the judge sent him to springfield missouri to have some psychiatric
examinations... he was later sentenced to one year in priosn and five years
probation ,,, two convictions... 35/30 ... I think the jury was out, less
than 15 minutes...less than an hour... back then we had so many trials...
the jury was out less than an hour, cause it didn't take them long to read
the facts...35/55
36/00 well, yeah, that probably goes along with differnt judicial districts
and judges...it was left up to the judge and the probation presenctence
report ... judge Suttle normally gave peopople time for tax offenses. ...
36/45... I think he could se the potential problem if people didn't pay...
I think there was a sense that heh, if you going to break the law... you're
going to pay the price... do some time... I know in the western district
of texas that people did serve time...
38/10 ...oh yeah, definately, wayne's a very good prosecutor... I can't
remember if it was Kahl's case or reinhearts case (big smile) he gave a
very good closing argument...very good...
39/26 ... he never backe down on his beliefs by any means, ... yeah,
we did follow up on it, it was probably in conjunction with the probation
office...they would be the one having contact with GK...and then they would
maybe contact us, if the guy didn't provide his tax return to them ...and
they could get it from us, because it was a condition of probation...I didn't
have nay deal where I was checking on whether GK filed his tax rreturn last
year, because I was moving on to other opeople and if we got a request from
the probation office, if he hadn't filed in subsequent years, we could
move to have another case on him or move to have his probation revoked...it
was more in conjunction with the probation dept..
42/38 ... I think we expected , maybe even the probation office even
expected to have some problems with GK... just because he got convicted
we didn't think it was going to change his views of doing things.... seems
to me he applied for permission to move back to ND because he was going
to go back and work his farm... seems to me I had heard one time after that
that he had tried to establish a church, his own church...43/16...
43/23 ... he tried to establish a church, trying to get around paying
his taxes... there was a church issue at that time...how we were going to
proceed against those...
44/10 ... no not at all...we did know he was with the posse...reconize
the power of the county... talked to witnesses, that he was stockpiling
wepons for the end...
4453 ...didn't take a long time to investigate it...and the one time
that I talked to him and I believe I only talked to him one time, he was
very, meek, mild mannered, didn't throw tantrums, didn't holler, he was
very matter of fact that what I was doing was evil and wrong and he wasn't
going to abid by it...by the laws and he didn't agree with me, and I had
to do what I had to do and he had to do what he had to do...and so there's
qalways the thought in the back of your mind that it was a possiblility,
but, failing to file a tax return and shooting someone are on opposite ends
of the spectrum 45/47... especially in fact of violence, and , but when
it finally did happen, and I was shocked, I thought what a waste, an utter
waste , over some man's beliefs, that whyat was, the laws laws of the US
was wrong and that he would kill people over it....it spurpised me... but
in looking back, I thought, well he just reached a point in that , he snapped
and it happened... now, see I had jound from the local authorities, his
sons were I don't know if I could say violent kids but , they were very
anit-establishemtn type mentality, this is pure rumor and I never proved
it, but I heard from people that knew them, that if they would watch TV
and there was a police show on , that they would shoot the tv...wheher that
was true or not , from what everybody else was saying, it wasn't beyond
the realm of possibility...they had that type of mentality... 47/25...
48/11 ...yea, he did, I can't remember the amount, it wasn't a large
amount...I believe he would have had a tax due on him, now how much I don't
remember...back in the mid-70s, I can't remember what, without looking back
at the records and the transcriopt of the court ...48/36... cause we proved
his income, which is what we had to... we had to prove he had an income
in excess of a certain amount which was the requirement to file a tax return...48/52...and
we did off of that evidence, prove what his income to be, it was not incumbent
upon us at that trial that he owed x-amount of tax, in fact, matter of fact...
we couldn't bring it up because it wasn't one of the elements...49/03...
but I do remember, that , yes, yes, he would have owed some tax...in
fact it would be reversible error if we had gone into that...
49/50... you have to prove he didn't file a tax return, you have to
prove he was required to file a tax return and that his failure to file
was wilful. and we proved all those...
50/28 ... the guidelines today are changing, ...but I'm sure he would
have gotten some time, yes...50/57 ...these particular people brought attention
to themselves, you know...
51/37 ... I don't remember a lot about judge Suttle, I don't,,, almost
every fed. judge I've had expereience with,,, runs a very structured setting,
he takes control...he does his job...
52/16... well, I just you know, Gordon Kahl was one of many cases I have
worked, I worked it, he was convicted and he served his time...and until
the shootout, I probalby never would have thought of GK again... it was
a tragic deal...I felt real bad when it happened... several people lost
their lives over this, something he was so hardheaded about and believed
in... and that did bother me... I would not like anybody to think in my
opinion...53/10... that he was a martyr or hero in my opinion of GK, he
didn't like the laws, he thougyht he should have been treated differently,
for whateever reasons, political or religious, he chose not to obey the
laws of the US and like everybody else I firmly believe he would be the
first to complain if his roads weren't fixed right or if his kids weren't
getting a proper education...53/48...
...or if we were attacked by some foreign country or something,...he
chose not to pay his taxes... and on top of that he probably having a lot
of influence on some people, who probably ended up , several of which probably
ended up getting convicted over stuff he was telling them was right... (CUT
W/TOOTS SAYING, "he never tried to force his beliefs on you")
... and he just chose going about it in an unlawful manner...54/22...so
I percieve GK as a guy who didn't like the income tax laws and broke the
laws and we convicted him and he got his just sentence and should have went
on and he chose to carry it on farther and tragically some people lost their
lives over it... it bothered mewhen it came down the line...54/48...
...I think probably a lot of other people expressed the same view he
endangered himself, his family and peple around him over some very basic
principals about the way of life in this country...it bothered me...55/12...
55/51 ...Oh I have no idea...
56/18 ...this was news when it happened and I understand that...I'm a
little concerned about there being a movie ...because I think it sensationalizes
something and it might add some fuel to somebody elses fire in another part
of the country who are sitting back waiting for the big one...and that does
concern me... this was one of many protest cases that went to trial ....
57/37...not that I'm aware of, there were several people in this area
who were personally offended that I was investigating them, me along with
several other IRS employees had lawsuits filed against them and one went
to trial... 58/27... no I've never had any people come back on me or valalize
or threaten me... but these lawsuits, the jury was out five minutes and
came back in my favor....
59/22 ... I was kind of interested when I heard about he shootings about
what had went down... and when he was on the run there were concerns that
he was coming back down here...so I was cautious for a while...

with interviews of...
Joan Kahl
Yorie Kahl
Lynn Crooks
Toots Mathis
Dennis Fisher
John Noah
Irv Nodland
Bill Kennelly
Prof. Ed Gran
Jack McLamb
Delores Everts
Scarlet Skiftu
Herman Widicker
August Pankow
Victor Seil
Marlys Klimek
Ron Perleberg
Len Martin
Brad Kapp
Robert Holiday
Tom Lee
Ed Fitzpatrick
Gene Nail
Buford Terrell
Marlene Gaysek
Bob Ralston
Darrel Graf
Steve Schnabel
Jack Swan
Loreen Dyck
Mark Stagg
Sheriff Ray Weatherby
Jack Miller
Tracy Adams
Allison Hoffman
Jeffrey F. Jackson
production design
Jim Haddon
Peter Lloyd
film editing
Tracy Adams
Martyn Hone
Jeffrey F. Jackson
original music by
Tracy Adams
sound department
Tracy Adams
Jeffrey F. Jackson
Rex Reddick
produced by
Jeffrey F. Jackson
Angela Kaye
writing by
Jeffrey F. Jackson
directed by
Jeffrey F. Jackson
A timeline of the life of Gordon Kahl, from early childhood interests, to his marriage to Joan Kahl, his decorated military experience, his outspoken tax protest, the Medina shootout, and his unusual death in Arkansas in 1983.
VARIETY /   Indie documaker Jeffrey F. Jackson sticks it to the IRS and the Feds in "Death & Taxes," a hard-hitting reinvestigation of the 1983 Gordon Kahl case, about which questions still linger. Jackson's unfazed, investigative reporting-style approach and inventive handling of familiar material make this a controversial item for fests and progressive webs. Non-U.S. viewers will also get a charge out of its conspiracy theme. read more
CHRONICLES MAGAZINE /   Gordon Kahl was a simple farmer who became famous for not filing income tax returns. Imprisoned and hounded by IRS agents who never did prove he owed any amount of money, Kahl and his son were involved in a shootout with police. The son is still serving a prison sentence, but the father was surrounded and shot in Arkansas by police officers who mutilated and burned his body. read more
GUNS & AMMO /   A new video documentary, Death & Taxes, details a case of government murderously out of control that was briefly mentioned in the October 1994 Guns & Ammo article "The Ugly Truth About Gun Control." Death & Taxes is the story of Gordon Kahl, a North Dakota farmer and decorated World War II veteran, and his apparent death at the hands of federal agents. read more
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Death & Taxes (DVD)
First time on DVD (113 min)
Death & Taxes (VHS)
This is a limited edition collector's VHS in the original unbroken packaging. (113 min)
Death & Taxes Miniseries (DVD)
Set of 6 DVD's comprising the complete uncut footage from the documentary film project. (783 min)
Gordon Kahl: Godfather of the militia movement
Now Available!
This set of 6 DVD's comprises over 13 hours of uncut footage, including a 2+ hour prison interview with Yorie Kahl, and candid interviews with wife Joan Kahl. In this rich stockpile of research, you'll find many more threads than could reasonably be pursued in the final feature.
The Death & Taxes Miniseries DVD Set Includes...
01: Gordon Kahl Meets With Head North Dakota U.S. Marshal Bud Warren (60 min)
02: The Beginning: Gordon Kahl's military experience and views on a variety of subjects (93 min)
03: Gordon's Texas Tax Trial (90 min)
04: Medina Shootout (60 min)
05: Gordon Kahl Was...: A montage of over 25 people describing who Gordon Kahl was in their eyes. (50 min)
06: Mysterious Death In Arkansas (90 min)
07: Media Circus: Chronological portrayal of Gordon Kahl in the media (70 min)
08: Yorie Kahl Prison Interview (150 min)
09: Joan Kahl Uncut Interviews (120 min)
The connection between Gordon Kahl, Timothy McVeigh, and the Oklahoma City Bombing
A little-known fact regarding Death & Taxes is the surprising connection to Timothy McVeigh and the ATF / Oklahoma City Bombing. Here's a clip of Jackson sharing the story during a director's commentary on his film Postal Worker.
Manhunt in the Dakotas
The story of Gordon Kahl so captured the attention of mainstream America that it was turned into a highly-rated made-for-television movie titled In The Line of Duty - Manhunt In The Dakotas.

DEATH & TAXES is the story of Gordon Kahl, a North Dakota farmer who became America's "most-wanted" fugitive. How had a WWII war hero become the target of one of the largest manhunts in FBI history? Gordon Kahl U.S. Marshalls Most Wanted Fugitive
Gordon Kahl's charred and burned remains were reexamined after his exhumation. The island of unburned skin shows that Kahl's body was likely positioned against the floor at the time he was set on fire.
The badly burned remains of Gordon Kahl, with an island of skin that shows he was in a prone position at the time of the fire.
Was Kahl a racist, gun-toting fanatic? Or a victim of an IRS policy of harassing vocal tax protestors into silence to keep the rest of us intimidated? Did Bill Clinton conspire to cover-up the torture and execution of Gordon Kahl in Arkansas? Did federal agents mutilate and burn the body to cover-up the murder of the wrong man?
DEATH & TAXES follows the trail of Gordon Kahl as his body is exhumed for a new autopsy. Building on newsreel clips covering two fiery shootouts and hundreds of interviews -- with IRS agents and federal prosecutors as well as Kahl's family and supporters -- D&T explores the myths and controversies surrounding a man who dared to challenge the federal income tax system. Some revile Kahl as a cop killer. Others revere him as an American patriot. Which was he?