SAN ANTONIO – According to a federal indictment, a San Antonio couple filed 63 returns with the IRS in the last decade, and none of them were correct. IRS agents said all of the returns were designed to dodge paying taxes and make some money.
“Mr. Bernard, do you believe in the U.S. government?” KENS-5 asked as he was led in handcuffs to a prison van behind the federal courthouse.
“I have questions,” answered the former San Antonio Water Systems manager and self-professed preacher of God.
Michael Bernard questions the legitimacy of the federal government to impose taxes on him and his wife. Bernard was sentenced to more than 3 years in prison for conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government of more than a million dollars.
“America may be the land of the free, but it’s not the land of the freeloader. Everyone’s expected to pay their fair share, and if you don’t you’re going to pay the price,” said IRS Special Agent Michael LeMoine.
Prosecutors say Bernard and his wife Janice stopped paying their income taxes in 2000 and started filing 9-years-worth of bogus refund claims with the IRS.
“He filed tax returns trying to get back basically all of his withholdings, plus some additional stuff.”
The “stuff” included fake claims for as little as $6,695 in 2006 and $561,156 in 2010. Instead of doling out the money, the IRS launched an investigation.
Bernard’s wife now faces similar fraud charges. But like her husband, she questions the U.S. tax code.
“Do you believe what the judge said about rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s?” asked KENS-5.
Janice Bernard answered, “Well then, that begs the question, ‘do you belong to Caesar?’ Then, you would render of yourself? I don’t know.”
Janice Bernard faces prison time, too, although prosecutors alluded to a possible deal on misdemeanor charges during her husband’s sentencing Friday.
Prosecutors said the Bernards still owe $97,698 in back taxes.