The F Zone (1998)/#####/** An independent filmmaker harassed by the IRS learns that the federal income tax is unconstitutional -- and makes a film about it. [Dir: Michael Hansel/ William Harrity, Kelly Hunt, Lee West/ 101min/ Drama]
There are two ways to take this film. Either you believe its theme, that the federal income tax is unconstitutional, or you don't. But either way, it at least raises this interesting question, and more, dramatizes the sort of abuse of power that has made the IRS the most feared agency in the federal cesspool.
Here's the story: The IRS wants to reinterpret a certain element of the tax code in a way more favorable to itself. So it audits a small television commercial production company, hoping to create an easy legal precedent that will enable it to then reassess the entire entertainment industry. However, the owner of the company won't give in. So the IRS seizes almost everything he possesses and roughs him up a bit in the process. He turns to a tax attorney for help. In the course of advising him what to do, she also educates him (and in so doing, the viewer) on the history of the income tax.
She claims that only those in the federal zone (the "F Zone," i.e., Washington, D.C. and a few other areas) are actually subject to it, and advises him to declare himself a "non-resident alien" to gain tax-free status. She also persuades him to make a film about this hidden truth. The IRS gets violent in various ways and tries to seize the film. But in the end good prevails, the film is released and it sparks a nationwide tax rebellion.
Needless to say, this is a story that will delight libertarians! The portrayal of IRS aggression alone will please many, as the agency's misdeeds are long overdue for examination on the big screen. And for those who believe the case made here that the income tax is unconstitutional (promotional material associated with the film claims that "recent evidence" does indeed suggest that), it will be a further joy.
Personally, I wasn't entirely persuaded. The case presented hinges on the existence of "papers" proving that the Sixteenth Amendment, authorizing the income tax, was never ratified. Perhaps such evidence exists, but then it brings to mind the question of why we've never heard about it before, a question the film doesn't satisfactorily answer. On the other hand, even many respected scholars agree that parts of the U.S. constitution are being openly violated, so I suppose anything is possible.
As entertainment, this film isn't bad for a low budget, independent production. Most of the acting, camera work and music are in the plus column and it has an interesting underlying story. However, some scenes are excessively melodramatic, others could have been clearer, and it has one scene that borders on diatribe. In any case, libertarians are likely to be forgiving of its flaws in the context of its content. Lead actor William Harrity also wrote the screenplay, edited and co-produced. This is his feature film debut.
I enjoyed this film and I'm delighted that it was made. It will bring IRS abuse of power and the question of income tax constitutionality to a wider audience, just what I gather it was intended to do.
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Copyright © 2000 by Jon Osborne.