Larry vs. IRS

Larry Vs. IRS

At some point, Larry decides to make a trip to Australia to give a series of talks about investing. His plane lands at Sydney, and he’s sitting there waiting to get off when these three guys get on the plane and walk down the aisle. They stop at his seat. Are you Larry Williams?

WILLIAMS: Well, I go – oh, what is this for? And they wouldn’t say anything. They said you’re under arrest. OK. And they said well, follow us to this room. And I went down in the basement of this airport – you know, kind of like a holding area and went there. And they said, you know, here are the papers from the United States government. You’re being charged with income tax evasion.

KESTENBAUM: The Australian police had arrested Larry on behalf of the U.S. government. Eventually, they take Larry down to a jail in downtown Sydney, where he meets his cellmate.


One of my favorite podcasts is Planet Money by National Public Radio in the US.  In this episode, Larry Williams devises a way to stop paying his taxes.  But when he comes to Australia for a speaking engagement, the Australian Marshals meet the plane on landing in Sydney and arrest Larry for Tax Evasion.  He’s later extradited back to the US.  Apparently there’s a long history of cooperation between the US and Australia.


The 16th Amendment is very short. And on the surface, it seems pretty clear. This is how it starts. “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes from whatever source derived.”



A lot of people dream of not paying their taxes. Larry Williams scoured the fine print of IRS code, talked to lawyers, settled on a plan, then just stopped paying taxes. Today on the show, we tell his story. It starts on a fateful camping trip, it winds through a jail cell in Australia and a courtroom in California, and it ends up in the U.S. Virgin Islands.