Numerous right-wing personalities have been telling their followers that they can stop paying federal income taxes by enrolling in the pricey and non-accredited Freedom Law School. The pitches for the scam are directly targeted at Trump supporters, imploring them to “never again voluntarily pay the Washington D.C. Swamp” and “defund the government that is being used to weaponize itself against us.”
The promotions for Freedom Law School are yet another example of how right-wing grifters sell out their followers for profit even when it can lead to serious illness or death (e.g. COVID-19 scams); financial ruin (e.g. health care sharing ministry); or imprisonment (e.g. January 6).
Freedom Law School is a Florida-based organization headed by Peymon Mottahedeh that encourages people to not pay income taxes, claiming that “YOU can defund the monstrous federal government by not filing and paying federal income taxes you legally never owed anyway!” Instead, Freedom Law School tells people to pay potentially thousands of dollars to them so they can avoid paying taxes. (Freedom Law School is not an accredited law school.)
The organization is targeted at Trump supporters. A sales pitch on its Facebook page claims: “When you know the facts and the law you too will feel secure in not supporting the deep state. You really can stop voluntarily supporting the Washington D.C. Swamp. Join your fellow patriots in the Restore Freedom movement, help your family and America Prosper and Make America FREE Again!”
Needless to say, people who do not pay their federal income taxes can face significant penalties, including imprisonment. In 2016, for instance, a California man and Freedom Law School member was sentenced to “33 months in prison for tax evasion.” The Justice Department wrote in a press release:
According to evidence presented at trial, in 2001, [Richard Thomas] Grant stopped filing individual income tax returns and paying income taxes despite the fact that he received significant income as a partner with Grant Engineering & Manufacturing, an engineering company in Richmond. In 2003, Grant stopped filing annual partnership returns for Grant Engineering, even though he continued to pay a CPA to prepare these returns. That same year, Grant became a member of Freedom Law School, and paid thousands of dollars in yearly membership fees. While the IRS attempted to collect unpaid taxes owed by Grant for 2001 and 2002, and attempted to examine Grant’s taxes for subsequent years, Grant, with the assistance of Freedom Law School, attempted to frustrate the IRS’s actions by, among other things, filing multiple law suits in various jurisdictions. These lawsuits were unsuccessful.
Numerous far-right conspiracy theorists have been promoting Freedom Law School despite the obviously scammy nature of the organization.
Stew Peters is a conspiracy theorist who has a history of violent, white nationalist, anti-LGBTQ, and antisemitic rhetoric.
He has frequently promoted Freedom Law School online and on his program. A promotion on his website states: “Taxation is THEFT! Never again voluntarily pay the Washington D.C. Swamp, legally and safely, GUARANTEED when you attend Freedom Law School!” Promoting Freedom Law School on social media, Peters has also claimed that he himself is “done paying federal taxes!”
While hosting Mottahedeh on February 20, Peters said: “I think that everybody that views this program is tired of funding our own demise. I have often said that a tax revolt may be our only last peaceful resolution to any of this. Defund the government that is being used to weaponize itself against us. They have openly declared war against its own citizens — the United States government, the big government, the corporate government crime syndicate who’s taking your money and threatening jail time if you don’t pay taxes.”
During another program, Peters introduced Mottahedeh by encouraging people to stop paying taxes because their money goes to Ukraine, COVID-19 vaccines, and “torturing Trump supporters in a gulag in D.C.” Peters also hosted him on April 11, when he again suggested that his audience stop funding “our own demise” and stop paying taxes.
Peters is also backing a documentary called Slave Nation with Freedom Law School that encourages people not to pay income taxes. It features Stew Peters Network executive and former Republican Senate candidate Lauren Witzke.
Teddy Daniels is a January 6 insurrectionist who hosts a streaming program on Stew Peters’ network. He hosted Mottahedeh on March 17 and told people in the introduction of his show: “You're going to find out how you can get through life without paying federal income taxes. … You don't have to pay federal income taxes.”
Laura Loomer is a bigot and unsuccessful congressional candidate who former President Donald Trump wanted to hire for his campaign. She tweeted on March 11: “Never again voluntarily pay the Washington D.C. Swamp. There is a legal and safe way to do this, GUARANTEED when you attend Freedom Law School!”
Freedom Law School is a sponsor of Loomer’s videos.
Natural News is a conspiracy theory website that, as The Daily Beast wrote, “is one of the largest brokers of far-right conspiracy theories, including disinformation about vaccines.” It promoted Freedom Law School and its supposed ability to help people avoid paying income taxes in an April 5, 2022, article that embedded an interview with Mottahedeh on the affiliated program Merritt Medical Hour, which was hosted by COVID-19 conspiracy theorist Lee Merritt.
Ann Vandersteel is a QAnon conspiracy theorist who hosts a streaming program. She hosted Mottahedeh on her program in January and told her followers: “Peymon Mottahedeh joins me to explain why you should no longer contract with the IRS and yes, that means stop paying your income taxes.” She concluded the interview by heavily praising him as a “freedom fighter” and said people will “wake up” after they find out this information.
Ben Garrison is a conspiracy theorist who is a favorite cartoonist of “alt-right” figures. He has promoted Freedom Law School in his comic and on his website, writing: “Stop filing. If millions of us did that, it would send a clear message just as the truckers in Canada are currently sending a clear message to the tyrants in Ottawa. One man, Peymon Mottahedeh, has successfully proven that we aren’t required to file. He won his court case and his organization is helping Americans learn how [to] avoid IRS tyranny.”