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Joe Stack Plane Crash: Why Did He Hate IRS Enough to Kill?

(CBS/AP Photo)
(CBS)
(AP)
AUSTIN, Texas (CBS/AP) Joseph Andrew Stack's seething hatred for the IRS appeared to have roots at least two decades long, judging from the web post he left behind before crashing his plane into in an Austin, Texas office building Thursday where some 200 employees of the tax agency worked.

Photo: Joseph Andrew Stack.

The anti "tax man" fuse may have been lit in Stack in 1986, when the software engineer confronted a change in tax law, that required companies using high-tech contractors to withhold part of their salaries for income tax purposes.

In the online letter discovered after the crash, Stack wrote, "They could only have been more blunt if they would have came out and directly declared me a criminal and non-citizen slave."

Calvin Johnson, a law professor at the University of Texas who specializes in federal tax laws told the Austin American Statesman it appeared Stack was looking for a way out of the withholding system.

"If Stack had intended to pay tax on the quarterly payment system, he would have had no advantage from getting out of withholding. Indeed, the paperwork burdens go up," Johnson told the paper. "I suspect he therefore had no intent to pay any tax, even when an independent contractor."

Stack also said he got involved with a group that was especially interested in how religious organizations like the Catholic Church got "incredibly wealthy" by taking advantage of "exemptions," according to his online rant.

Photo: Firefighters battle the blaze at Stack's house.

He goes on to describe an "exercise" the group conducted, aimed at reevaluating laws that, as Stack wrote, "allow the monsters of organized religion to make such a mockery of people who earn an honest living."

But they were apparently unsuccessful, and Stack wrote that it ended up costing him "$40,000+, 10 years of my life, and set my retirement plans back to 0," and that it "made me realize for the first time that I live in a country with an ideology that is based on a total and complete lie."

Stack's clashes with the government didn't stop there. His first wife filed for bankruptcy in 1999, listing a debt to the IRS of nearly $126,000.

According to California state records, Stack also had a troubled business history, twice starting software companies in California that ultimately were suspended by the state's tax board, one in 2000, the other in 2004.

Stack's father-in-law, Jack Cook, told the New York Times that he knew Stack had a "hang-up" with the IRS, and his marriage had been strained. His wife had taken her daughter to a hotel to get away from Stack on Wednesday night, the newspaper said.

That might have been the last straw for Stack. On Thursday he blew up his house, and aimed his plane at what he seemed to believe was the root of all his problems: the IRS.

MEDIA
PICTURES: Joe Stack
PICTURES: Austin Plane Crash

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  • Carlin Miller

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