Imprisoned killer of abortion doctor George Tiller touts shady tax scheme on YouTube

Scott Roeder during his 2009 preliminary hearing on first-degree murder charges in Wichita
Scott Roeder during his 2009 preliminary hearing on first-degree murder charges in Wichita MCT

The Kansas City area man who murdered a Wichita abortion doctor appears in an interview from prison on YouTube offering a way that he says Americans can avoid paying federal income taxes in order to defund Planned Parenthood.

Scott Roeder, who was sentenced to 50 years without parole for shooting George Tiller to death in 2009, says in the audio-only interview that the tactic would strip Planned Parenthood of its funding “without waiting for the states and federal government to do it.”

Planned Parenthood has come under fire since an anti-abortion group began releasing a series of heavily edited undercover videos earlier this summer showing officials discussing the donation of fetal tissue and organs for research.

Although Roeder was disciplined two years ago for an interview on YouTube, this one would be allowed under prison rules, said a spokesman for the Kansas Department of Corrections.

“After listening to the clip, there was nothing enclosed that violated KDOC policy,” Adam Pfannenstiel said in an email.

He said prisoners are allowed to make phone calls unless they have been restricted from having contact with someone.

The IRS, however, considers the tactics that Roeder promotes in the clip as fraud.

Roeder’s 25-minute interview was conducted by longtime anti-abortion activist Dave Leach of Des Moines, Iowa — who, like Roeder, is a proponent of the argument that killing abortion doctors is an act of justifiable homicide.

In the interview, Roeder said income taxes are unconstitutional because the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gives the government the authority to collect the taxes, was never officially ratified.

The concept is popular among tax protesters, including those in the anti-government sovereign citizen movement, which Roeder became involved with in the 1990s.

In the interview, he encourages people to change their W-4 tax forms to indicate that they are exempt from paying taxes. He said he did so in 1992 and never paid taxes again.

“There are legal, ethical, moral and biblical ways to stop funding the murder of the unborn through our income tax,” Roeder said.

A spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri said Tuesday that the organization “will not dignify Roeder’s remarks with a comment.”

An IRS spokesman referred The Star to the agency’s website, which says the IRS considers the tactic promoted by Roeder to be a tax evasion scam.

“This argument has survived over time because proponents mistakenly believe that the courts have refused to address this issue,” the website says. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the income tax laws in a case in 1916, it said, and courts have consistently done so ever since.

Those who rely on such “frivolous schemes” to avoid paying their taxes can face hefty fines and other penalties, including criminal prosecution, the IRS says.

Roeder is being held at the Ellsworth Correctional Facility in Kansas, and his “hard 50” sentence is under appeal.

This isn’t the first time Roeder has been heard in a YouTube post.

In 2013, he was disciplined by the state corrections department for trying to intimidate Julie Burkhart, a former Tiller employee who opened an abortion clinic in Tiller’s former building. Tiller’s clinic had closed after his death.

The threat came during a telephone interview with Leach that was posted on YouTube. In the interview, Roeder said Burkhart’s life would be at risk for opening the clinic.

“To walk in there and reopen a clinic, a murder mill where a man was stopped,” Roeder said, “it’s almost like putting a target on your back — saying, ‘Well, let’s see if you can shoot me.’”

For his actions, Roeder received 45 days in segregation, reduced privileges for an additional 60 days and a $20 fine.

To reach Judy L. Thomas, call 816-234-4334 or send email to jthomas@kcstar.com.