Joseph Ronald Banister is a former Special Agent of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Banister resigned from the IRS and later appeared on the television program Sixty Minutes II challenging the conduct of the IRS concerning legal issues with taxation. Banister's books and other material challenge the legality of some aspects of the income tax.
In 2004 Banister was charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and various counts of willfully aiding, assisting counseling and procuring the filing of a false amended income tax return in connection with his alleged assistance of a client, Walter Allen Thompson. Thompson owned and operated Cencal, an aviation and flight bag manufacturing business. Cencal employed a number of hourly wage workers who were predominantly seamstresses, production workers and office workers. In July 2000, Thompson removed all of the employees from the taxpayer rolls by no longer withholding employment taxes from wages and salaries, by not filing Forms 941, and by not providing employees or the IRS with annual wage or other income statements, Forms W-2 or 1099.
Thompson was charged numerous tax-related offenses. On January 28, 2005, he was found guilty of two counts of knowingly filing false claims against the United States under , ten counts of willful failure to collect and turn over taxes under , and one count of willfully filing a false income tax return under . Thompson was acquitted on one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States under . Thompson was sentenced to serve 72 months in prison and was fined $7,500. The case against Banister continued, and Banister was eventually acquitted of the charges against him.
Banister's license as a Certified Public Accountant was revoked by the California Board of Accountancy, effective March 7, 2007.
The web site for the California Board of Accountancy notes that in December 2003, the U.S. Department of the Treasury ordered Banister disbarred from practice before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and that the disbarment was finalized in June 2004. The California Board of Accountancy also states:
The Internal Revenue Service is investigating Joseph Banister "to determine whether Banister promotes abusive tax schemes that would subject him to penalties under or subject him to injunction under ," and has issued a summons to an attorney named Robert Bernhoft in connection with the investigation.
On August 27, 2008, the United States Tax Court ruled that Banister was liable for federal income taxes and penalties for failure to file his 2002 federal income tax return and report, as income, over $23,000 in a distribution from a retirement plan and other income.