The Life and Times of Irwin Schiff
By Daily Bell Staff - October 20, 2015

My father Irwin A. Schiff was born Feb. 23rd 1928, the 8th child and only son of Jewish immigrants, who had crossed the Atlantic twenty years earlier in search of freedom. As a result of their hope and courage my father was fortunate to have been born into the freest nation in the history of the world. But when he passed away on Oct. 16th, 2015 at the age of 87, a political prisoner of that same nation, legally blind and shackled to a hospital bed in a guarded room in intensive care, the free nation he was born into had itself died years earlier. – Peter Schiff via

Dominant Social Theme: The US is a fair, equitable and just country.

Free-Market Analysis: Irwin Schiff made his reputation trying to debunk and remove the US income tax system. He considered it illegal and immoral and went to jail three times for his beliefs.

We knew him several decades ago. He promised us several "scoops" when he came to New York and then called us one evening from Las Vegas where his apartment was being raided. It might have been the IRS and he exclaimed that they were carrying guns even though this was apparently illegal.

He wasn't really fearful or upset, though he was certainly indignant. But that is the impression that sticks with us – of a happy warrior who was determined to confront a system he considered immoral.

Even when Schiff went to jail for a final time we got the feeling that he relished the battle leading up to his incarceration and was hoping against hope that he would be able to present his evidence in open court. He didn't really get that chance, of course.

When we heard of his death we were sad. When we read his son Peter's article, we moved on from sadness to anger and disgust.

His crusade to force the government to obey the law earned him three prison sentences, the final one being a fourteen-year sentence that he began serving ten years ago, at the age of 77. That sentence turned into a life sentence, as my father failed to survive until his planned 2017 release date.

However in actuality the life sentence amounted to a death sentence. My father died from skin cancer that went undiagnosed and untreated while he was in federal custody. The skin cancer then led to a virulent outbreak of lung cancer that took his life just more than two months after his initial diagnosis.

… At the time of his diagnosis in early August of this year, he was given four to six months to live. We tried to get him out of prison on compassionate release so that he could live out the final months of his life with his family, spending some precious moments with the grandchildren he had barely known. But he did not live long enough for the bureaucratic process to be completed.

When his condition deteriorated to the point where he needed to be hospitalized, government employees blindly following orders kept him shackled to his bed. This despite the fact that escape was impossible for an 87 year old terminally ill, legally blind patient who could barely breathe, let alone walk.

Whether or not you agree with my father's views on the Federal Income Tax, or the manner by which it is collected, it's hard to condone the way he was treated by our government.

The US has surely lost its way. The institutionalized violence of US society is a poison that seems to seep into every corner of the culture. An out of control penal system, an increasingly militarized civilian police force and an increasingly corrupt monetary, political and fiscal environment are creating an untenable environment for many.

US warfare never seems to end. Soldiers are still in Iraq and now Barack Obama has decided to leave 5,000 more troops in Afghanistan rather than pull out entirely. The Federal Reserve is more incompetent than ever and the US dollar is an increasingly shaky reserve currency. If the greenback doesn't collapse on its own eventually, the crushing national debt will ensure the final debasement.

One can engage Leviathan, as Schiff courageously wished to do. One can also try to protect oneself and one's family as best one can in order to live an honorable and productive life within – or outside of – current social and economic constraints. The liquidity of holding physical metals, the lifestyle flexibility of a non-domestic home and a second passport; access to farmland along with healthy food and potable water as one can arrange it – all these are key.

After Thoughts

None of this need be exceptionally expensive. But the result may be to gain or retain some of the independence that Schiff was fighting for.

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  • Guy Christopher

    I am outraged to learn of Mr. Schiff’s treatment at the hands of Gestapo/USA. My prayers are with Mr. Schiff and his family.

  • Goldcoaster

    The Federal Reserve is more incompetent than ever and the US dollar is an increasingly shaky reserve currency. If the greenback doesn’t collapse on its own eventually, the crushing national debt will ensure the final debasement.
    This assumes rational economics. The system will do whatever it takes to perpetuate the system. If that means a guaranteed annual income – free money – so be it. Unlimited printing press – ditto. The system is too big and too entrenched with too many special interests to allow collapse.
    After all, its for the children.

  • The abuse and violation coming from the tyrants is a disgrace. Rest in peace, Irwin Schiff, and condolences to Peter & family.

  • AmericanGold

    God help us! We are no longer governed in justice and compassion – will we never recognize and reject this invasive evil?

    • 2prickit

      “- will we never recognize and reject this invasive evil?”

      Albert Jay Nock (October 13, 1870 – August 19, 1945) expressed his complete disillusionment with the idea of reforming the current system. Believing that it would be impossible to convince any large portion of the general population of the correct course and opposing any suggestion of a violent revolution, Nock instead argued that libertarians should focus on nurturing what he called “the Remnant”. The Remnant, according to Nock, consisted of a small minority who understood the nature of the state and society, and who would become influential only after the current dangerous course had become thoroughly and obviously untenable, a situation which might not occur until far into the future.

      Why smile? The Government Will Tax That Too!”— Ernest Colton, mentor (b. 1925)

      • Erik Garcés

        Oh my God! I came to that same conclusion independently and have been trying to figure out how to verbalize it. Thank you for sharing – now I have someone to look into and see how they did just that.

        Having just spent two weeks in Colombia this month, I am taking the steps. I pray I can get the rest of the family on board.

      • Samarami

        80 years ago Nock recognized the fallacies of rulership, nationalism and patriotism. Here are some links:

        Yet Nock engaged in fallacies of his own — namely, the delusion of reification

        In his opening statement of “Our Enemy, The State” he begins with “…If we look beneath the surface of our public affairs, we can discern one
        fundamental fact, namely, a great redistribution of power between
        society and the State..” I, 80 years later, with a belly full of web-generated libertarianism and anarchy under my belt (not available to Nock in 1935), would refrain from taking personal possession of a phenomenon such as “public affairs”. They’re not MY affairs (even though my lifestyle might be affected by many of them). They might be yours — I can’t speak for you. Sam

        • 2prickit

          von Mises may have been brought over to support the dialectic; the Institute does seem limited as such. My abridged presentation of AJ Nock however did bring to the DB the targeted response. Thanks for your concern, but as I have read it, the linked info would be better addressed to M. Garces.

  • apberusdisvet

    Most people do not realize that Schiff was right; the IRS has no constitutional basis; is actually an independent corporation; and serves solely as the collection agent to guarantee the FED’s rape of the American people.

    • Randy

      Yes, read The 31 Questions and Answers About the IRS.
      RIP Irwin, you were a great inspiration to me as well as many others too!


  • Jim Johnson

    In 2012 our County was inundated with new folks intent on fixing the broken parts of our country. Our first fund raiser had Peter Schiff speaking to us for an hour. He has taken up his Father’s banner, as have all the good citizens in this County. Thank you for this tribute, and let Peter know we are merely getting started. God Bless the Schiff family.

  • Praetor

    Irwin Schiff and his family is the embodiment of what the U.S. was meant to be, the ‘idea of the U.S.’, come to the U.S. and you be free and liberated from tyrannical government intrusion. Now his soul can rest in peace, for the tyrants of control can no longer harm him. May these tyrants end-up where they have no control over anything anywhere and their meaningless lives where like the dot at the end of the paragraph!!!

  • Heywood Jablome

    The illegitimacy in principle and law of the thievery at the IRS is illustrated by the all encompassing ability of the fed to create money for the government with a few key strokes on an accounting sheet. Since this is the case they do not need the IRS to collect money by coercion and force; they can conjure it out of thin air. Why do the masses not understand this?

    • Libertarian Jerry

      The object of the Income Tax and the IRS

      is not only to collect on the payment of the interest owed to the bankers who own the FED but to control inflation by mopping up the excess paper “dollar” liquidity created out of thin air by the FED. That and the fact that the Income Tax is there to control the individual citizen’s consumption and to gather private financial information on the citizens of the nation. Is it any wonder that Karl Marx championed the Income Tax as the 2nd Plank to his Communist Manifesto.

      • Randy

        You are 100% correct there, Jerry! I have mentioned that many times myself, the “economy” is created out of thin air by electronic bookkeeping entries and fiat paper currency, and the “excess” spending power of it is siphoned off by the income tax to keep the system from going into hyperinflation mode right away and burning itself out.
        Here’s bonus for you; inflation is the gradual decrease in the perceived purchasing power of a fiat paper currency monetary system.

  • It is very difficult not to feel overwhelming rage at the treatment of Irwin Schiffat the hands of these cowardly bullies. Thank you Irwin and family for all the sacrifices made in the fight towards the betterment of humanity and the end of the religious belief in the cult of ‘the state’.

  • Bruce C.

    Irwin Schiff’s treatment near the end of his life was disgusting. I once saw a patient in chains in his bed at a hospital with two guards and I was horrified and outraged.

    It goes to show that there must be solidarity to stand up to tyranny. He wasn’t able to do it alone, at least within his lifetime, but his example and conviction and courage will not be in vain.

  • Impending Sky

    He was locked up and his health was neglected for the crime of publishing. Where are these freedoms the government keeps referencing? If Irwin Schiff could not be afforded the freedom of speech and the freedom to dissent, then what is left for the US?

    Something is rotten along the Potomac.

  • FreeOregon

    All actions have consequences. All of us are bound together.

    I wonder how the judges who sentenced Irwin are suffering in their lives. Harm another human being and you harms yourself.

    That’s also why forgiveness works, in reverse. When you forgive the other you also liberate yourself.

    • Perhaps somewhere in those judges’ hearts they know they did a wrong but perhaps, conversely, they are so lost in the delusions surrounding the cult belief in the necessity and utility of ‘the state’ they feel they ‘did their duty’, they were ‘only doing their job’, that Irwin ‘knew the consequences of his his actions’, that he made his decision to take the action that he did ‘of his own free will’ and that, in order to uphold the ‘essential’ order that is ‘the state’, all descenders must be ‘made an example of’ no matter the occasioned unfortunate individual’s consequence.

      Those judges sit chained to the floor of the cave, only able to watch shadows of puppets in the firelight, projected on the wall, and believe: what they they see is the only possible truth. When Irwin comes into the cave to tell them of the world he has seen and they know nothing of, cannot see, do not believe in, contradicts the illusions they believe to be true; they turn on him to strike him down, to silence him, to preserve themselves from only the harm they believe he would cause if he attempted to make them see that which he says he can see ‘by the light of day’.

      • Lawrence Latham

        Yes, I think it must be something like that.

  • satta

    You can tell whom the state considers its most dangerous enemies by how harshly it punishes them.

  • Myron Goodrum

    RIP Irwin. You will always be fondly remembered. You were one of my first mentors. I am saddened to no end at the treatment you received by this lawless government.

  • Samarami

    “…The US has surely lost its way. The institutionalized
    violence of US society is a poison that seems to seep into every corner of the
    culture. An out of control penal system, an increasingly militarized civilian
    police force and an increasingly corrupt monetary, political and fiscal
    environment are creating an untenable environment for many…”

    This is what frightens me. A “libertarian” writer treats a phenomenon (a brainless abstract — ) commonly referred to as “…the US…” as if “it” were a living, breathing entity. And that “it” has “…surely lost ‘its’ way…” In other words, if “we” could just have “elected” different “powers-that-be” (rulers, who are necessary to guide us all for our own safety and security) — why, “it” would NOT have “…lost ‘its’ way…” (Read: things might just get better if “we” all stay on board, continue to support the state. And VOTE!).

    Has ANY “penal system” EVER been “in control”???

    Has ANY monopoly military/police/state (or the psychopaths that hide under those abstractions) ever NOT been corrupt???

    Why have ALL conquerors ALWAYS appropriated or expropriated ALL “media of exchange” of the conquered? IS there such a thing as “increasingly corrupt monetary, political and fiscal environment”? Or is the very IDEA of rulership nauseous from its inception???

    Isn’t it the very nature of central political authority to obfuscate “untenable environments” to make them appear “tenable” (that is, if “we” just hold fast and don’t let the ship of power sink)???

    Schiff and I conversed on the phone almost daily in 1977 (back when a long-distance call cost an arm and a leg) about my tax “situation”. Thankfully I somehow was forced to recognize that he was on a trail of destruction with his high profile stance (publishing books, holding seminars, etc). Thomas Szasz is quoted as having said, “Being wrong can be dangerous, but being right, when society regards the majority’s falsehood as truth, can be fatal”.


  • Arnold 1

    Irwin Schiff was one of my early inspirations to take on the tax system in 1982. Seventeen years later, after losing my house and a few banks accounts because I thought I was right, I know I was right. I also know that a lone individual does not have the guns and the bureaucracy to battle the IRS henchmen who are only doing the bidding of a Congress who writes the laws. While foolishly defending my self in a federal court, I realized that the judge was listening intently to my testimony and admonishing the IRS prosecutor for the “draconian treatment” (his words, not mine) being meted out to me. The IRS prosecutor then pulled out his trump card: He stated that I was a “Irwin Schiff tax protester.” The judges demeanor changed dramatically and within minutes I was found guilty. Irwin Schiff is at peace now. I just wonder what he will show up as the next time.

  • Randy

    NO one is “found guilty” during or after a bogus trial, Arnold, because that determination is already made well before it starts, if there is more profits for the State for that verdict. That so-called judge was just waiting for the right opportunity to change the direction that his kangaroo court was going. He’d already made up his mind before the first knock of his gavel was heard. The “judges” are all scam artists working for the State, so how can there not be a conflict of interest there? Or am I making too much sense here now, and need to shut the eff up? Here is my paper The Scam of the Legal System.

    Scam of the Legal System

    “legal system” is nothing other than a huge scam, fraud,
    artifice, which is set up solely for the impoverishment and control
    of its victims. And of course, it also has the intent of using any
    means at all at its disposal for keeping itself going on forever, and
    growing, at an ever increasing rate.

    fear not, Dear Reader, as there is a most simple way out of that
    abyss, that labyrinth which we have been led into under the false
    idea that we can hire someone to help us in obtaining our justice
    when we are wronged. It is quite simply the serious and dedicated
    application of the Three Magic Questions. They are; What is the
    EXACT AMOUNT of fraud that ANYONE has the right to commit? What is
    the EXACT AMOUNT of fraud that ANYONE has an obligation to endure?
    What is the BASIC PREMISE that is being operated off of in the
    instant case? No lieyer who has ever been asked those first two
    questions has given a straight answer, the ONLY answer possible,
    which is none. For to do so would put an immediate end to the fraud
    which they depend upon for their daily bread!

    is a given that no one who is dependent upon something will ever do
    much, if anything at all, to harm it. Hence, we see quite clearly
    now as to why the lieyers of the world do not like to look too
    closely at the origins of their “profession” and what has
    become of it. What had started out as a bona fide alternative to the
    thoroughly corrupted King’s Court, has now become that very thing
    which it was created in protest against; a totally corrupted system!
    Many may balk at what this Author says, but NONE of them can offer up
    even the slightest shred of anything to actually prove it wrong.

    there was some amount of fraud that one had a right to commit or an
    obligation to endure, then how could it possibly be measured?
    Without that measuring stick or container or balance scale, how could
    anyone know for certain how much was not enough or how much was too

    is the BASIC PREMISE that is being operated off of at any given time?
    Don’t we have the Right to know that? Aren’t we at a severe
    disadvantage if we do not? Who can say that we have no inherent
    right to know all of what goes on around us? Are we “persons”
    held as slaves to another in a democracy, or are we free men and
    women in a republic? Please heed these words here well, for they ARE
    the key to the chains around your ankles!

    you print out the TMQs, either by hand or machine, and then post them
    all around your house and at work, after a short amount of time of
    thinking about them, they will become a part of your mind and way of
    thinking. Every time that you are interacting with others, you will
    think of it in terms of those TMQs!

    up the definitions of fraud and contract, and learn them as well as
    you know your own name. Make them such a part of your thinking that
    not a day goes by without contemplating them, and you will then begin
    to see a change in your life. In the way that others treat you, and
    you treat others as well. It can’t help but happen, unless you wish
    to keep on being cheated and cheating others too.

    entire legal system is a den of thieves and vipers. Why should we
    continue to feed them anymore, when they bring us such unlimited
    amounts of misery? We need to use the TMQs and starve them all out
    of business as well as existence!! What would a so-called “judge”
    be able to say or do if asked those three simple questions? What
    could they say? What can ANYBODY say in response to them? It should
    be dawning upon you Dear Reader, just about now, that you are at the
    mercy of a corrupted system that has gone wild and is completely out
    of control. Who is going to rein it all back in? Can it ever be
    done? This Author says no, it cannot! It is like a hand or arm with
    gangrene in it. It cannot be saved, so it must be cut off as quickly
    as possible, before the body dies and there is nothing left to save.

    your OWN test of the TMQs as this Author has done. Ask as many
    lieyers as you can stomach, what the answers to those questions are.
    You won’t get one in a thousand to answer you honestly, for it would
    go straight against what they are all about! Just look up “Attorney
    and Client” in the Corpus Juris Secundum, Section 14 and see it
    for yourself!

    thorough and careful study of any law dictionary will give you more
    knowledge of and insight into the criminal nature of the legal system
    than you could ever imagine. It is just FILLED with expose’ after
    expose’ of how corrupt the system is, if you are only daring enough
    to see it for what it is.

    few people will go into a fight that they completely KNOW they have
    no chance of winning. They would rather just let the fight come to
    them, and be killed, than to expend their last energy in that way.
    The lieyers of the world are the same way. They know that they
    cannot prevail against the TMQs, so they do all that they can to
    avoid them like the plague. To answer them correctly, is to commit
    suicide, both financially as well as “professionally”.
    Being as professional as an unwashed whore that is. What could a
    lieyer do for honest work then? Surely not much until retrained, as
    their whole career was all about lying, cheating and stealing. If
    anyone at all can prove this Author to be wrong to any degree, in any
    way, then let them do so at once! This is all born out of some facts
    as solid as a piece of granite stone, coupled with a bit of logic.
    True, some may like to ridicule these facts, thoughts and logic, but
    can they prove them to be wrong? Or have all of the differences
    between what is right and what is wrong been eliminated? If such is
    the case, then surely it must have been done by the lieyers
    themselves, for no one else would profit so handsomely from such a
    dastardly deed as they would. But to be fair, whores at least serve
    a useful, if maybe distasteful purpose in society. Lieyers on the
    other hand, do not. Maggots, jackals and vultures may feed off of
    dead bodies, but lieyers are the main cause of all those dead bodies.

    elevated to the bench so-called “judges” (actually they’re
    just Executive Administrators sitting in Admiralty jurisdiction) are
    just more lieyers, and are far from being unbiased. Since they do
    not swear a proper oath of office, and also are members of the
    British Accredidation Registry who take bribes (cash payments in
    “income tax” cases and monies from civil judgments paid
    into their retirement funds), how can they be anything BUT biased??

    must satisfy the appearance of justice. The USSC has ruled and
    reaffirmed so in Levine v. United States, 362 U.S. 610, 80 S. Ct 1038
    (1960), citing Offutt v. United States, 348 U.S. 11,14, 75 S. Ct.
    11,13 (1954). “A Judge receiving a bribe from an interested
    party over which he is presiding, does not give the appearance of
    justice”. How much plainer than that does it need to be?? For
    further proof of all this, just do a search for “Fraud upon the
    Court” or “Fraud on the Court” and see what you find.
    “It is axiomatic that fraud vitiates everything”. Those
    words are not those of this Author only, they come from many, many
    court cases. ANY officers committing fraud upon the court render the
    orders and judgments of that court void, of no legal force or effect.
    This is the reason why everyone needs to get the “judge”
    on record at the outset, BEFORE any kind of plea is entered into the
    record, a promise to not commit any kind of fraud to any degree in
    the proceedings nor to allow anyone else to commit any fraud either.
    What kind of “judge” would not gladly make such a promise?
    Would any honest judge have a valid reason for not doing so? Is
    there some kind of hidden premise that is being operated off of in
    the courtroom? As stated earlier, NO ONE who is benefiting from a
    fraud or scam can be counted upon to injure it. The legal system has
    become a plague upon the land, and like a plague, it will kill itself
    off after it destroys more hosts than are needed to keep itself

    casino anywhere in the world forces people in off the street at gun
    point and makes them gamble with their life or property, so why
    should a court be able to do it? What is the basic premise of the
    courts? It’s certainly not to ensure that justice is done! The
    outcome of any so-called “trial” is no more guaranteed than
    whether black or red will come up on the spin of a wheel. In the
    subject of casinos, most everybody is aware to some degree that the
    games are all rigged up in favor of the house, but how many of us
    know that the courts are rigged up every bit as much, if not even

    the case of U.S. v. Robert C. Braun, Mr. Braun merely asked if the
    property he and his fellows had been protesting upon had ever been
    ceded to or bought by the federal government. It had not, so the
    silent judicial notice of federal legislation being in full force and
    effect there was negated. Braun, and his already convicted fellow
    protesters (all of whom had hired attorneys BTW) against abortion had
    not in fact violated the F.A.C.E. Act and were thus set free. Foley
    Bros. v. Filardo had been upheld, much to the chagrin of the
    prostituting attorney, who told the “judge” that if the
    legislative jurisdictional challenge from Braun was permitted to
    stand, “half the prison doors in America would fly open”.
    EXCUSE ME?!?! That filthy scum bag lieyer KNEW that fraud was being
    committed all along, and yet did nothing to stop it? Why wasn’t he
    put into jail for aiding and abetting a crime? Or is it his JOB to
    commit fraud upon everyone that he can get away with? It most
    certainly does seem so!

    woe unto YOU, lieyers of the world! The people are beginning to wake
    up to your foul works and evil deeds, and soon we will be rid of you,
    one way or another!