11 years ago today in 2010, American tax protestor Joseph Stack flies his private plane into an IRS Field Office in Austin, Texas.
Joseph Stack was born in Pennsylvania in 1956 and spent much of his life as a computer engineer and entrepreneur. Joe took pride in being independent in many aspects of his life and not relying on a big company to pay his bills. He even learned how to fly his own private airplane so he could go all over the country for business opportunities. In 1986, the IRS amended their tax code that specifically targeted his profession to pay more in taxes and it forced him to work more hours for less pay, all this trouble with his work life led to him getting divorced. The Dot-Com and Housing Bubbles combined with increased tax bills depleted all the money in his retirement savings. He became further radicalized when he read news about the Federal government bailing out failing corporations. After being ruined financially over the last 20 years, the straw that broke the camel’s back was when the IRS decided to audit Joe on the measly $12,700 his new wife Sheryl made in 2009.
On the day of the attack, Joe published a 3200 word essay on his company’s website explaining how he ended up at this point in his life and cited the specific IRS tax code that was amended and targeted his profession. On the morning of the attack he set his house on fire and drove to the hanger where his single-engine Piper Dakota airplane that he modified with more fuel to cause a bigger explosion was parked. At 9:45 a.m Joe followed all guidelines with the airport and took off legally, heading southbound to Austin. While the IRS had a larger regional office in Austin, Joe specifically targeted the field office Echelon I because it performed tax audits, seizures, investigations and collections. Around 10:00am Joe crashed his plane into the building where the IRS offices were located, creating a huge fireball and sending debris everywhere. The IRS manager Vernon Hunter was killed with Joe, and 13 people were wounded.
After the attack, media organizations rushed to associate Joe with the new and popular Tea Party Movement, but the investigation revealed Joe had no connections with these groups and was never considered a right-wing person. The media reached out to Joe’s adult daughter Samantha Bell who initially called her father a hero. But after great controversy she condemned his violence but did not give into pressure and stuck up for her father’s beliefs hoping more American’s would learn from his plight. Samantha eventually left the United States to settle in Norway. While some Republicans tried to use Joe’s story to have a meaningful discussion about tax reform, it fell on deaf ears and instead the IRS used the opportunity to spend 30 million dollars that year on improving their security.
Joe Stack’s Manifesto:
Authored by R.E. Foy