In Austin, Texas, a software engineer was so angry with the Internal Revenue Service that he crashed his small plane into an office building housing nearly 200 federal tax employees on Thursday, February 18, 2010. Officials said the crash set off a raging fire that sent terrified workers fleeing as jets of black smoke engulfed the air.
United States law officials have identified the pilot who is assumed to have died in the crash as Joseph Stack. On his Web site, the insanely furious man outlines problems with the IRS, stating that “Violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer.
Stack continues his diatribe, writing on Thursday morning, “I saw it written once that the definition of insanity is repeating the same process over and over and expecting the outcome to suddenly be different. I am finally ready to stop this insanity. Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let’s try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well.”
What remains a mystery is why anyone would have to go to such tragic extremes when it comes to dealing with a tax problem? Without question, dealing with taxes and the Internal Revenue Service can be a source of extreme frustration. However, there is no justification for resorting to violence. In addition, violence solves nothing, only increasing the severity of any problem.
If Joseph Stack had calmed down and talked to a tax professional like Peter Stephan, it is likely that most of his problems could have been solved. With years of experience and expert knowledge, a tax professional knows how to deal with the IRS on favorable terms. Instead of trusting such expertise, Stack chose a tragic path that now seems to have left his family homeless as well.
Earlier Thursday about five miles from the crash site, Stack’s $232,000 home was engulfed in flames. Law enforcement officials said Stack apparently set fire to his home before the crash. Neighbor Elbert Hutchins said a woman and her teenage daughter drove up to the house before firefighters arrived on the scene. “They both were very, very distraught,” said Hutchins, a retiree who said he didn’t know the family well. “‘That’s our house!’ they cried ‘That’s our house!'”
It appears that that Joseph Stack slammed into the Austin building on purpose in an effort to blow up IRS offices. “It felt like a bomb blew off,” said Peggy Walker, an IRS revenue officer who was sitting at her desk in the building when the plane crashed. “The ceiling caved in and windows blew in. We got up and ran.”
Andrew Jacobson, also an IRS Revenue Officer, was on the second floor when he heard a “big whoomp” and then a second explosion. “When I went to look out the window I saw wreckage, wheels and everything. That’s when I realized it was a plane,” said Jacobson, whose bloody hands were bandaged. On account of the smoke and debris blocking the stairs, Jacobson used a metal bar to bust a window so his colleagues could crawl out on a concrete ledge where they were rescued by the firefighters.
Austin Fire Department Division Chief Dawn Clopton said that at least one person who worked in the building was unaccounted for and two people had been hospitalized. IRS spokesman Richard C. Sanford stated that about 190 IRS employees work in the building and the agency presently was trying to account for all of its workers.
Onlookers who saw the crash were shocked to see the see the plane flying so low. “It was insane,” said Matt Farney, 39, who was in the parking lot of a nearby Home Depot. “It didn’t look like he was out of control or anything.” Reginaldo Tiul-Tiul said he had just gotten off a bus when he saw the plane crash. Tiul-Tiul, 30, said in Spanish, “It went straight for the building.”
According to California Secretary of State records, Stack had a troubled business history with two self-started software companies in California that ultimately were suspended by the state’s Franchise Tax Board. In 1985, he incorporated Prowess Engineering Inc. in Corona. It was suspended two years later. He started Software Systems Service Corp. in Lincoln in 1995 and that entity was suspended in 2001. Stack listed himself as chief executive officer of both companies.
What is essential to realize is that such a tragic chain of events never has to happen. As we all know, tax problems with the IRS can generate a phenomenal level of frustration and fear. If Joseph Stack, however, had called the Tax Resolution Institute years ago when his tax troubles began, a workable solution could possibly have been found. Violence is never the answer. Although often unpleasant and frustrating, taxes are a reality. Such a reality never has to become a crisis with the help and guidance of tax professionals like Peter Stephan and the Tax Resolution Institute. Why crash a plane into a building, killing yourself and risking innocent lives, when a sensible answer could be only one phone call away? If you need tax resolution services, feel free to call the Tax Resolution Institute at 800-401-5926 or fill out our tax resolution form.
About Peter Y. Stephan
Peter Y. Stephan, executive director of the Tax Resolution Institute, has been helping people resolve large, complex payroll tax problems and personal income tax problems for over 25 years. Peter has written a book "The Ultimate Tax Resolution Guide" and speaks on Tax Resolution topics frequently.