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Clinton IRS commissioner: Tax audit of Virginia farmer just ‘a coincidence’

By   /   June 18, 2013  /   News  /   31 Comments

‘TERRORIZED’: Virginia farmer Martha Boneta battles the IRS.


By Kevin Mooney | Watchdog.org

After clashing in court with a powerful Virginia environmental group, farmer Martha Boneta faced a second threat: an ominous U.S. Internal Revenue Service audit notice she received in the mail.

Boneta suspects the events are related, that her struggle to protect her property rights is part of a larger national story involving IRS harassment of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status. A former IRS commissioner who serves on a council that has sparred with Boneta over her property said the concerns are unfounded.

“You are humbled and terrorized by the whole process,” Boneta told Watchdog. “You wake up every day with a terrible feeling, and initially you don’t want to tell anyone what has happened. But as I gradually began to speak out, more people began to join with me. Anyone who is a farmer, or a concerned citizen, has a stake in this fight. But I came into the process very reluctantly.”

As Watchdog previously reported, Boneta’s name is now synonymous with the fight for property rights in Virginia. The Boneta Bill (House Bill 1430), which is designed to strengthen and clarify the state’s Right to Farm Act, passed the House of Delegates in a 77-22 vote in February.

The legislation was later blocked in the Senate Agriculture Committee in an 11-4 vote, but Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, R-Woodbridge, has vowed to reintroduce the bill next year.

Inside the barn on her 70-acre property in Paris, Va., a small rural village in Fauquier County, an hour’s drive west of Washington, D.C., Boneta told Watchdog the IRS notice followed a fight that began when the Piedmont Environmental Council began working with county officials to rezone her property. PEC officials threatened to sue Boneta in 2009 for a variety of supposed violations before focusing their complaint on the presence of an apartment on the property.

Boneta and PEC settled in 2011, but by then, Fauquier County planners, prompted by PEC, had changed zoning laws to specifically ban Boneta’s sale of fresh fruit, vegetables, beverages and homemade handicrafts from her on-site farm store. That change led to the Boneta Bill.

It also led, in April 2012, to county citations against Boneta – each a claim that Boneta was violating the county’s planning ordinances.

IRS Building in Washington D.C.

IRS Building in Washington D.C.

Then came the IRS notice saying that Bryon C. Jose, an IRS agent based in Fairfax, would audit Boneta’s 2010 and 2011 tax returns. Boneta calls that time frame “highly suggestive” because it coincides closely with the heavily publicized litigation concerning the operations on her property.

Boneta asserts the IRS audit is the latest event in a “coordinated effort” aimed at forcing her off her farm.

It’s not just timing that makes Boneta suspicious of the IRS audit, or even the fact that the audit asks for information that was key to the lawsuit PEC filed against Boneta. It’s the presence on the PEC board of directors of Margaret “Peggy” Richardson, a Clinton-era IRS commissioner.

Richardson dismissed the idea that Boneta’s audit is the result of a coordinated effort, but said she understands why Boneta and her supporters see a connection.

“I could understand, given the external climate, that people might think there is something amiss,” Richardson told Watchdog. “I think that’s a stretch, but I understand why people might feel this way.”

While it may be difficult for people in Fauquier County familiar with the Boneta case to believe the IRS audit is a mere coincidence, this is very likely the case, Richardson said.

“Coincidences do happen.”

Contact Kevin Mooney at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @KevinMooneyDC


Kevin formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.

  • Alexander Santialos

    No such thing as a coincidence like this. This was a targeted audit against this farmer. Richardson is the neighbor of this farmer and has been all too vocal against Liberty Farm.
    This is a classic example of a targeted vicious audit against a private hardworking citizen that was outspoken about defending property rights. Richardson is with an extremist Agenda 21 enviro-warrior group

  • Skeptical

    “Boneta and PEC settled in 2011, but by then, Fauquier County planners, prompted by PEC, had changed zoning laws to specifically ban Boneta’s sale of fresh fruit, vegetables, beverages and homemade handicrafts from her on-site farm store. That change led to the Boneta Bill.”

    I would like to know from the author how he came to this conclusion? Where is the proof that the amendment was prompted by the PEC? And who at Fauquier County did you specifically speak with concerning the amendment?

  • Skeptical

    Also, have you read the text Mr. Mooney?? What part prohibits her from selling what she produces on site? The provisions prohibit the sale of things not produced on site. You should really get your facts straight. You are woefully incorrect.

  • Alexander Santialos

    The real question is why was Boneta the ONLY farmer in Fauquier charged with these offenses when countless other farmers were doing the exact same thing? Why were there so many meeting between PEC and the county about Boneta and her farm? Why?

  • Skeptical

    What meetings Alexander? Do you have specifics, I.e. dates, times, who was in attendance, etc.?

  • Jonathon Tate

    This is all public record. The county “staff report” specifically charged the farmer for selling exactly what was produced on the farm. The county was trolling and targeting this farmer by going on her FB page to print off pictures and then site her without every even speaking to the farmer. Again, all public record and in fact, Mooney is correct. I was at the hearing. I witnessed the countless farmers and citizens from all over Virginia have a pitchfork protest at the outrage of what this county did and I heard the county find this farmer in violation for exactly what the farmer was producing. The county made no distinction whatsoever and relied on a vindictive neighbor’s personal secretary.

  • Skeptical

    There is no law banning the sale of fruit or produce. Mooney is dead wrong. That is an overstatement at best, if not outright propaganda. The media has failed miserably at accurately reporting this story.

  • Al Taberson

    I have seen much of the public record. Most of it is pretty dull. Except some of the emails between supervisor lee Sherbeyn and the “writers” at the free citizen. Now those are very interesting.

  • Tea Party Patriot

    This is just the kind of case where the government bullies say “coincidences happen” and then all of the sudden an audio tape shows up and goes viral with certain elected officials talking about Boneta’s Audit and other matters like the same elected official conspiring against this farmer to acquire the land.

    Perhaps this is just the tip of the iceberg.
    This is no coincidence.

  • Rally against IRS Today in DC

    All just a coincidence…yeh right…uh huh….wink wink…..nothing to see here…. move along…hide the evidence…..

    Excellent article. These vindictive “coincidences” are haunting America.

  • nancyleecole

    This is interesting how rich, supposedly influential people want something so they go to their cronies in high places and work the system so they can get legislation passed that they need to enable them to beat any impediment to their power. Case in point, in Fredericksburg, whenever the Silver’s Companies want something or can’t accomplish what they want. Whala-coincidence!!! Some law is passed by some croney to help them get rid of whatever was in their way and they can proceed to achieve their folly. “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”,. They will give you a job and name a street after you as well, and what does it matter who they destroy along the way. It is all about ME.

  • Concerned Patriot

    The flagrant case of targeting of American citizens for tax audits is being built by the IRS themselves. It is a case of confirmed power abuse and corruption in an agency that should have no partisan tendencies in the enactment of their charge as tax collectors. To abuse this agency to go after a small farmer is just another instance of politics gone bad, and is a shameful, evil, hateful abuse of government. Isn’t it time Americans wake up and protest? Where is the outcry against blatant government power peddling based on political motivations? This is an absolute disgrace and I am finding it harder to be a patriotic American these days…..

  • thinkinginthesandbox

    People who have contacts at the IRS have used these connections for evil. To rid yourself of those you don’t like, you could and still can have your IRS contacts sic your rivals. You can be as innocent as snow and the hounds of Hell from the IRS will fall on you. The IRS is not audited every year. The GSA has more audit guidelines to their mission than the IRS. If any financial institution ever conducted its business like the IRS they would be charged with criminal behavior, but that will never happen. I am saddened when the powerful use such extortion and can get away with it. I wish that the IRS was required by law to be annually audited by an independent entity such as the S&P.

  • Tax Payer USN

    The biggest problem I see nowadays is people that don’t have a pot to piss in are so jealous of people that have a few more dollars or property more than they do and the don’t think its fair so they vote for Politician’s that redistribute it or have total control of your life. The Liberals and Demarcates have promoted this for better than 40 years and it has worked for them at the voting booth. Most of the so called Republican’s don’t have the gahonnies to stand up for anybody any more unless the can benefit from it. The National and local GOP partys are partly to blame because they push a Party favorite instead of a local proven honest candidate.

  • Government Bully 101

    Sick Sick Sick.

    If farmer can’t be forced off land by over regulating and discriminating against with selective enforcement, then seize farm with power of the IRS and back door connections.

    One way or another, whomever “they” are were going to destroy this poor farmer’s life and steal this farm.

    This is text book “Government Bully Property Seizure Strategy 101”:

    1) Selectively enforce laws, zoning against property.
    2) Harass citizen with random fake complaints, surveillance of property, drive by property, photograph citizen and property, etc.
    2) .Discredit citizen (make farmer citizen out to be crazy)
    3) Interfere with business relations of citizen – meddle with VDOT, zoning, other government agencies, even interference of mortgages and insurance of citizen – whatever it takes mentality.
    4) Police intervention- find criminal reasons to harass citizen
    4) When all that fails, use connections to have the IRS perform “audit” of citizen that will cost citizen hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend and appeal ultimately resulting in seizing property.
    Sounds like this is exactly what happened to the farmer. “They” did not expect the poor farmer to have thousands of Americans fighting for the farmer’s freedom.
    Yup just a “coincidence”. Yeh right.

  • dancingontheheadofapin

    They probably want that particular piece of property for development and they will use every one of their dirty tricks to get it.

  • dancingontheheadofapin

    Could you please supply some links? I’d be interested in reading them. Thanks.

  • dancingontheheadofapin

    Skeptical’s name says it all. He/she would probably argue with the devil.

  • Al T.

    You will have to foia them, or contact Sherbeyn. I saw them because someone foia’ed them and shared the. to me, it seems that most of the players on both sides of this one are morally empty. The messages between Sherbeyn and mr. Fitzgibbons are shocking and I only saw a few of them. For all of his accusations of bureaucratic bullying, fitzgibbons knows how to dish it out but lee handles it well though. The attorney for the farmer lady even admonishes him at one point, saying that fitzgibbons doesn’t speak for her.

  • Fauquier Fraud

    @ “Al T” and oh by the way, we all know who you are ( — IP address remember?)

    Keep calling this young lady farmer “morally empty” and we will have to expose your identity.

    Creeps like you that try to degrade a young woman that is fighting to protect her rights, are the bottom dwellers of society.

    This farmer is a hero and I welcome the opportunity to see you defend yourself in court against libel, slander, defamation of character, extortion and conspiracy.

    The words of liberty from America’s sweetheart that you call “morally empty” can be heard here:


  • rodrigez

    go defund NPR LOL give me a break

  • Elaine

    Agenda 21

  • Audit PEC

    “Coincidence” my tush!

    Time for the IG to seize PEC and the BOS personal servers and phone records immediately.

  • sparkyva

    Let’s not call it targeting. Use the term Profiling Conservatives. Targeting is what we Gun nuts do (CCP holder here). Profiling is what Liberals understand and hate. So, when talking to a Liberal, use the term profiling conservatives. It might wake them up!

  • Old Jack

    This is just another example of the government getting “too big for it’s britches” If the American people would get up off of their collective butts, we could get back control of our country. This country is supposed to be run by the people, for the people. The people are not here to support an ever growing, and distructive government. Stop these atrocities, now.

  • One More Voice

    Our government is festering with crooks, bureaucrats, greedy minions, egomaniacs, ecomaniacs, and very mean-spirited people in general.

    The most mean-spirited and selfish of humans are you, the liberal, radical, socialist, environmentalist.

    Those “Co-Exist”, “World Peace”, “Occupy…”, “Free Tibet”, and “Save a Whale” bumper stickers only prove that you are using deliberate deceptiveness by pretending feelings of love, equality, and peaceful existence for all, while acting under the influence of a It’s My Way Only” and then using “Brown Shirt” bullying tactics.

    (If you’re mad at this point, then keep on reading – This is a Wake Up Call.)

    There is a reason that species become extinct – Who’s more important? :


    Your Children?

    Your Wife?

    Your Entire Family Tree?

    Your Friends?


    You can’t have one without the others – You’re part of a dominating species whether you want to be or not – It’s what you have inherited, genetically. You are not a Cow, a Fish, a Bird; Physiologically impossible. You are part of the predators – an Apex Hunter. You can be in denial and vehemently denounce the fact. (Ah, remember your bumper stickers above?). A majority of this addressed group have never seen combat or faced life-or-death situations. But at some point in your life, especially with the current state of affairs, you might actually truly discover yourself and how you fit into to the whole of your genome architecture (how you became you, through the generations before). And then, if you were to become enlightened, where would you place the Bearded Black Millipede of South Africa on your “Importance” list above?

    With the current clashes between every conceivable rival, we are further deteriorating our love of our country, trust in our fellow citizen & government, and free way of life. The species very high on the “Critical” list to become extinct, will be the American. Your human “brothers” in China will eventually have this rock to themselves – and – you can bet All of the tea in the Yunnan Province, they will continue on their course (a very proprietary system of writing, philosophy, art, social, military, political organization, and civilization – continuous over the past 4000 years) of dominating the landscape and every living organism. Their agenda does not include a love for humanity or the environment – unless it suits their leadership’s purpose. They will definitely NOT be petting any Spotted Owls or diverting their movement forward if a stand of old-growth trees are in their way.

    There are real governments, beside our own, that wish to truly destroy freedom, maintain wealth & power, and mandate our every move. If you don’t believe that, you are seriously burying your head in the sand and are contributing to you and your family’s demise.

    This country is so much farther ahead assisting the environment, that ANY other country on Earth. You are very selfish, taking advantage of your own country to satisfy your ego that you’re contributing to the planet, when in fact, you are killing your own country which will not only fall, but everything you have worked for will be in vain; You, your family, your freedoms, your country, your planet.

    Vent on me if you think you’ll feel better, but I highly suggest you vent on those countries that are doing NOTHING to even remotely assist the environment.

    Unless this country (our citizenry) wakes up and truly work with each other on first ensuring our way of life continues, the USA is heading for dissolvement very soon – most probable through absorption into the U.N. We keep hearing about the “outside” forces that can destroy us. The truth is we’re headed for self-implosion.

    The Environment, You, & Your Family, will not be worth a damn in the resulting vacuum…

  • nochickenlady

    Big, out of control government biting the hand that feeds it for no particular reason other than it can. God help us.

  • Chicot

    Why have the IRS agents not audited the people connected to the Obama administration as well as elected officials and government employees whom we all know owes millions in back taxes. This is never mentioned even by the congressmen who are holding IRS hearings. When they clean house of those who they know owe the government and are employed by the government, as well as penalties and interest which everyone else has to pay, then they can go after people whom they feel are trying to screw the government out of some monies, OH NO, that would be themselves and all the elected officials in Washington who are wasting our tax dollars on a daily basis.

  • TheresaLH

    This is “A” Typical of rising counties, their appointed judges, good ole boyz network of attorneys’ looking to make the next RE Development Big Bucks of “hot areas” off some1 else’s hard earned investment(s)! I have seen this done, already in Loundon Co, VA & other areas.

    She bought the property-made the wise investment, she kept it in A-1 tip-top shape, she paid her taxes on the property all these years & they weren’t cheap, she is an owner- occupant, she gives to her area, she plays a role in the golden rule & she is an American Citizen AND “They” are trying to now, steal it all away from her with all their harassment tricks which I would file a law-suit on them for,…

    Beware, OWNERS You Will Be next & You Better Stick together because “They” are the crooks & out to break you & take your profits!

  • PEC Piggies

    I hope these folks get some relief from the PEC and IRS bedfellows. I Richardson and the cronies should be ashamed of themselves and might want to audit the PEC to see what happened to all of the tax credits they have received at the expense of the Joe taxpayer.

  • Grunt Grunt

    What happened to the call for Kim Johnson’s resignation? She should get a job at a donut shop and be happy.