Peter Schiff’s Father Dies In Prison, Shackled To A Hospital Bed

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

Most of you will be quite familiar with Peter Schiff. Fewer of you will know much about his father, Irwin Schiff, who was posthumously referred to as the “grandfather of the contemporary tax protest movement” in Forbes.

Irwin was treated very poorly by his own country, particularly toward the end of his life when, despite being legally blind and dying of cancer, he was not permitted to die in peace amongst family members.

His son Peter wrote the following as a tribute:

My father Irwin A. Schiff was born Feb. 23rd 1928, the 8th child and only son of Jewish immigrants, who had crossed the Atlantic twenty years earlier in search of freedom. As a result of their hope and courage my father was fortunate to have been born into the freest nation in the history of the world.  But when he passed away on Oct. 16th, 2015 at the age of 87, a political prisoner of that same nation, legally blind and shackled to a hospital bed in a guarded room in intensive care, the free nation he was born into had itself died years earlier.


My father had a life-long love affair with our nation’s founding principals and proudly served his country during the Korean War, for a while even having the less then honorable distinction of being the lowest ranking American soldier in Europe.  While in college he became exposed to the principles of Austrian economics through the writings of Henry Hazlitt and Frederick Hayek. He first became active in politics during Barry Goldwater’s failed 1964 presidential bid. His activism intensified during the Vietnam Era when he led local grass root efforts to resist Yale University’s plans to conduct aid shipments to North Vietnam at a time when that nation was actively fighting U.S. forces in the south. Later in life he staged an unsuccessful write in campaign for governor of Connecticut, then eventually lost the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination to Harry Brown in 1996.


In 1976 his beliefs in free market economics, limited government, and strict interpretation of the Constitution led him to write his first book The Biggest Con: How the Government is Fleecing You, a blistering indictment of the post New Deal expansion of government in the United States. The book achieved accolades in the mainstream conservative world, receiving a stellar review in the Wall Street Journal, among other mainstream publications.


But my father was most known for his staunch opposition to the Federal Income Tax, for which the Federal Government labeled him a “tax protester.”  But he had no objection to lawful, reasonable taxation.  He was not an anarchist and believed that the state had an important, but limited role to play in market based economy.  He opposed the Federal Government’s illegal and unconstitutional enforcement and collection of the income tax.   His first book on this topic (he authored six books in total) How Anyone Can Stop Paying Income Taxes, published in 1982 became a New York Times best seller.  His last, The Federal Mafia; How the Government Illegally Imposes and Unlawfully collects Income Taxes, the first of three editions published in 1992, became the only non-fiction, and second and last book to be banned in America.  The only other book being Fanny Hill; Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, banned for obscenity in 1821 and 1963.


His crusade to force the government to obey the law earned him three prison sentences, the final one being a fourteen-year sentence that he began serving ten years ago, at the age of 77.   That sentence turned into a life sentence, as my father failed to survive until his planned 2017 release date. However in actuality the life sentence amounted to a death sentence.  My father died from skin cancer that went undiagnosed and untreated while he was in federal custody.  The skin cancer then led to a virulent outbreak of lung cancer that took his life just more than two months after his initial diagnosis.


The unnecessarily cruel twist in his final years occurred seven years ago when he reached his 80th birthday. At that point the government moved him from an extremely low security federal prison camp in New York State where he was within easy driving distance from family and friends, to a federal correctional institute, first in Indiana and then in Texas.  This was done specially to give him access to better medical care.  The trade off was that my father was forced to live isolated from those who loved him.  Given that visiting him required long flights, car rentals, and hotel stays, his visits were few and far between.   Yet while at these supposed superior medical facilities, my father received virtually no medical care at all, not even for the cataracts that left him legally blind, until the skin cancer on his head had spread to just about every organ in his body.


At the time of his diagnosis in early August of this year, he was given four to six mouths to live.  We tried to get him out of prison on compassionate release so that he could live out the final months of his life with his family, spending some precious moments with the grandchildren he had barely known.  But he did not live long enough for the bureaucratic process to be completed.  Two months after the process began, despite the combined help of a sitting Democratic U.S. congresswoman and a Republican U.S. senator, his petition was still sitting on someone’s desk waiting for yet another signature, even though everyone at the prison actually wanted him released.   Even as my father lay dying in intensive care, a phone call came in from a lawyer and the Bureau of Prisons in Washington asking the prison medical representatives for more proof of the serious nature of my father’s condition.


As the cancer consumed him his voice changed, and the prison phone system no longer recognized it, so he could not even talk with family members on the phone during his finale month of life.  When his condition deteriorated to the point where he needed to be hospitalized, government employees blindly following orders kept him shackled to his bed.   This despite the fact that escape was impossible for an 87 year old terminally ill, legally blind patient who could barley breathe, let alone walk.


Whether or not you agree with my father’s views on the Federal Income Tax, or the manner by which it is collected, it’s hard to condone the way he was treated by our government.   He held his convictions so sincerely and so passionately that he continued to espouse them until his dying breath.  Like William Wallace in the final scene of Braveheart, an oppressive government may have succeeded in killing him, but they did not break his spirit.    And that spirit will live on in his books, his videos, and in his children and grandchildren.   Hopefully his legacy will one day help restore the lost freedoms he died trying to protect, finally allowing him to rest in peace.

I’d like to end this post on a lighter note, by sharing one of my favorite clips of Irwin, a man unappreciated by his country and left to die and elderly man, shackled to a cold hospital bed.


RIP Irwin Schiff.

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assistedliving's picture

Mr. Schiff was probably an atheist; i hope he will accept my appreciation of his life & blessings to him and his family

So Close's picture

Taxes are voluntary..  Just ask the IRS.

Haole's picture

...and if you don't "volunteer"...

Haus-Targaryen's picture

This kind of this is coming to most outspoken Libertarians.  Be careful guys. 

Herd Redirection Committee's picture

This man wrote some fine books.  He even had a cartoon that he used to explain the economy, to high school students, I imagine, and it was great too!  Explaining an economy, and economic terms, in terms of fish!

Gone, but not forgotten.

coinhead's picture

RIP Mr. Schiff.

hedgeless_horseman's picture



Obama has issued just 64 pardons in his presidency — fewer than any president since James Garfield was assassinated in 1881.

...Garfield served only 200 days as president before being killed.

We tried to get him out of prison on compassionate release so that he could live out the final months of his life with his family, spending some precious moments with the grandchildren he had barely known.  But he did not live long enough for the bureaucratic process to be completed.  Two months after the process began, despite the combined help of a sitting Democratic U.S. congresswoman and a Republican U.S. senator, his petition was still sitting on someone’s desk waiting for yet another signature, even though everyone at the prison actually wanted him released.  


Free, Corzine!

Amish FinEng's picture

You Libertarians better pay your taxes, u-n-d-e-r-s-t-a-n-d?!

You federal friends in .gov have got honeypot websites to run and wheres that money going to come from? Oprah?

hedgeless_horseman's picture



You Statists better trust your government.

Mr. Ed's picture

I remember the prison system used to run this guy from one detention facility to another just to stress him out... he called it "diesel therapy" (because of the exhaust fumes!). 

Irwin Schiff was a good and honorable man.  His only fault: he believed that truth, justice and integrity animated our courts and that if he tried hard enough logic and principles would carry the day.  He was so wrong!

In his later years, he was not the same person and did some things that didn't make a lot of sense; they had done something to his brain during his extended period of imprisonment.

When I look at a total PIECE OF SHIT like Jon Corzine aging gracefully, and then look a what happened to Irwin Schiff, I get a real sense of the depth of dishonor and disgrace our criminal justice system has fallen to.

Irwin Schiff, rest in peace.  You will be remembered.

SoilMyselfRotten's picture

Aaron Russo also did a nice job in this video on the IRS/paying ones taxes called Freedom to Fascism. Boy, i miss this guy he had some great insights.

Billy the Poet's picture

They killed Irwin for the children. Because if folks don't pay taxes then there's no money to buy grenades to blow up the baby.

Tonald J Drump's picture

don't worry, that shitbag criminal Corzine WILL receive a visit from Mr Karma , hopefully sooner rather than later ... 

Four chan's picture

rip to a great man who was imprisoned for being right. a true patriot who fought against the monied interests. let no man say he was wrong.

johngaltfla's picture

Irwin Schiff did more time in prison than every banker responsible for the 2007-2009 crash COMBINED.

Which of course was 0.00.

It's not the law, it's who you can bribe to administer the law now in this country and we will eventually pay a huge price for this corruption.

macholatte's picture


I pay accountants thousands each year and file lots of tax returns for various entities for one reason - to be left alone.  That worked for a long time. But now, with the new police state it’s harder and harder to find solace.  RIP America.

Democracy... while it lasts is more bloody than either aristocracy or monarchy. Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.

- - John Adams

HamSandwich's picture

Is your accountant's name Tony Soprano? Because it sounds like you're just paying "protection" money ;-D

Son of Loki's picture

The so-called "law" is for the littel peeples.

847328_3527's picture

Does anyone know if we'll have internet access in the FEMA camps?  I'd like to keep reading ZH while I'm there if at all possible.

N2OJoe's picture

Convincing a man who's livelyhood is based upon the forced extraction of your income(read: any .gov employee) that you don't have to pay their "protection money" is always a losing proposition.

Titus's picture

Irwin Schiff: A true American hero.

clymer's picture

rest in peace, Irwin.

Sorry for your loss, Peter.

Prisoners_dilemna's picture

The continuation and improvement of Irwins work. bitchez.

Irwin Schiff was close and operated without the aid of Internet, but Pete Hendrickson got the ball over the goal line in 2005.

JR's picture

There’s no protest against the bankers that they consider more significant than the refusal of their right to take the people’s money. To deny the legality of the tax system to a banker is the same as counterfeiting their fiat currency. The system will come down on any protester with the full force of the federal government.

The case of Peter Schiff’s father has all the earmarks of intentional and cruel punishment designed to provide an example.

El Viejo's picture

Forget any religious beliefs you might or not have and research what they did to Kent Hovind.

o r c k's picture

And he "set the bar" high enough so that everyone knows what they're ultimately reaching for. (Mr. Schiff)

Overfed's picture

We don't have a justice system, we have a legal system, and it is a weapon to be used against the little people.

Herd Redirection Committee's picture



World finance.  These industries have all been wholly corrupted.  Hitched to a wagon.  But meanwhile, look behind that shrub, I could have sworn I saw a Taliban Al-Qaeda ISIS suicide bomber!

WhackoWarner's picture

And that "woman" running for No. #1 declares that Snowden would have been treated fairly.  Hope you choke on your lies girl.

conscious being's picture

girl? Kankled cannibal monster is more like it.

TeMpTeK's picture

Even Rome crucified Jesus for being a tax protester...

resaci's picture

I knew Irwin, he went to my IRS audit in the 80's. He happened to be in town that day. I think it was for an event sponsored by "WE THE PEOPLE ACT" He was a happy man that enjoyed life as far as I saw. We had much fun that day. Irwin attracted quite a crowd, a dozen or so folks with signs marched in front of the entrance, protesting against the IRS. All the IRS employees that saw him looked shocked, they couldn't believe he was there. As we walked by them someone made threats, Irwin smiled, ...I don't recall what was said though.

I didn't prevail in the audit of my amended returns and was subsequently prosecuted for tax evasion. I can't have a gun now. Maybe Obummer will pardon me...   


 Anyway, no regrets, I met many fine people back then and Irwin Schiff was one.


It was a pleasure to know him, I hope I see him again when I pass from this fucked up world.

Anonymous User's picture
Anonymous User (not verified) resaci Oct 20, 2015 5:12 AM

You should have owned guns from the moment you got your driver license. 

As soon as possible isn't soon enough.

So It Goes's picture

I hope you are right.

So far I have observed that it is mostly random.  I personally have not observed the "karma" yet.  But it is a nice thought.

A Nanny Moose's picture

Death is too light a sentence for that slimy shitball, turd-burglar Corzine. May he fall in the woods, break both legs, be left to the ravages of nature's scavengers.

1stepcloser's picture

He had to be dealt with as well... 

Hubbs's picture

I think you need to emphasize more what a PIECE OF SHIT Jon Corzine is.  Seriously.

Tonald J Drump's picture

that's a yuuuuuge insult to pieces of shit

Uchtdorf's picture

This is as sad as Waco. Nobody stood up and delivered the man from the hospital. My shame increases daily.

Amish FinEng's picture

Sadly I agree with you. Over the years I've been very critical of Schiff.

Mea culpa.

A Nanny Moose's picture

Opportunities for redemption are frequent in the morally bankrupt Kakistocracy. They cannot incarcerate everyone.

Free Ross Ulbrict

OzFan's picture

I want to draw people's attention to Hedgeless Horsemans post.

We have courageous men of true conviction, like Irwin Schiff, who would rather die standing fighting for truth then on their knees....and then we have wicked scum like Corzine, literally a thing of zero moral is shackled to his bead like an animal in his last days and the other is hugged by presidents and secretarys of state for defrauding billions.

This is the reality of the system....its totally transparent in how pollluted and broke and dangerous it will shackle and kill you if you even dare to expose the truth.

RIP Mr Irwin Schiff.....never forgotten.


WhackoWarner's picture

@ Ozfan.    People all around me would rather bend over, would rather lie and cheat and steal than ever stand up for a belief.  Weak and scared population willing to make any kind of deal to remain unscathed.  Corzine is a thief and an aware different than most of my neighbours.  Quivering, afraid egoists willing to justify themselves as "upright" citizens of the community. Opportunistic, thieving, scared as bunnies, brainwashed people.  No thought for anything beyond themsleves.


RIP a good man.

Max Cynical's picture

Peter, sorry about the loss of your father. He was a good and honorable man.

Slomotrainwreck's picture

All he wanted was a legal taxation protocol.

ejmoosa's picture

Irwin Schiff lived by his principles and died in jail because of his principles.

If and when we get control of this nation again, we will celebrate the life of this man on a national basis.

Until then, we will not forget you Irwin Schiff.

I have your book "The Kingdom of Moltz" on my desk.  It stays there as a reminder of you, and just what our government is willing to do to those that dissent and stand up for themselves.