Absurd Tax Protester Argument: “I Didn’t Know the Symbol “$” Meant Money”

Absurd Tax Protester Argument: “I Didn’t Know the Symbol “$” Meant Money”

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I thought I had encountred all of the absurd tax protester arguments known to man, but Paul Caron has stumbled upon a new one (emphasis and footnotes are mine):

From Business Day:

Stephen Blackman tried explaining his failure to disclose more than $300,000 in income by claiming he didn’t know what the “$” symbol meant.¹

Sam Ellis, appearing for the Inland Revenue Department (Australia New Zealand), said in a letter dated February 9, 2009, Blackman wrote he had not been paid by his company Plant and Platform Consultants Ltd, of New Plymouth.

“You may have been confused by forms provided to you by my company which contained impressive numbers preceded by a “$” symbol,” Blackman wrote. “I am unaware of the meaning of this symbol, but I can assure you I am not aware of anyone at my company who would swear under oath that this represented money paid to me by the company.”

But when Blackman appeared before Judge Robert Murfitt in the New Plymouth District Court he pleaded guilty to two charges of filing false or incomplete tax returns for the years ending March 31, 2007 and 2008.

Blackman would have fared better had he claimed he was a citizen of the planet Krypton. It’s more believable.


¹  The Australian New Zealand unit of currency is the dollar, denoted by “$.”

About Peter Pappas

Peter is a tax attorney and certified public acccountant with over 20 years experience helping taxpayers resolve their IRS and state tax problems.

He has represented thousands of taxpayers who have been experiencing difficulty dealing with the Internal Revenue Service or State tax officials.

He is a member of the American Association of Attorney-Certified Public Accountants, the Florida Bar Association and The Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants and is admitted to practice before the United States Tax Court, the United States Supreme Court, U.S. District Courts - Middle District of Florida


  1. Matt Bramanti says:

    The footnote had me cracking up. Helpful!

  2. Anton Joseph says:

    Inland Revenue Department is in New Zealand. The Australian equivalent is the Australian Taxation Office

  3. Anton,

    Oops. Thanks for the correction. I made the revisions.

    New Zealand also uses the dollar ($) as it’s unit of currency.