Man angry over taxes flies plane into IRS building

February 18, 2010
Austin, Texas
Andrew Joseph Stack III (53, pictured inset left) flies a single-engine aircraft into the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building, killing himself and Vernon Hunter (67, pictured inset right) and wounding 13

At the time of the attack, Stack was being audited by the IRS. According to a written statement that served as a suicide note, Stack noted he had not filed a tax return due to a “year with mammoth expenses and not a single dollar of income” and did not believe he had to file his taxes as he had made no money. He also stated his wife’s “unreported income” was taken into account for the audit, and he was expecting to be fined $10,000.

Stack’s anger at the IRS grew to the point his wife decided to take her 12-year-old daughter from their home and stay at a hotel until Stack’s temperament improved. She returned to find their home on fire; investigators noted the fire was intentionally set, and Stack was the primary suspect.

Approximately an hour after the house fire was set, Stack boarded his single-engine airplane which he piloted into the Echelon building holding 190 IRS employees. Stack died at the scene, as did IRS employee Vernon Hunter. Thirteen more were injured, two critically.

Investigators found a 6-page, 3000-word essay uploaded to Stack’s webpage which was regarded as a suicide note. In it, Stack expressed his contempt toward the IRS and the government at large. He ended the letter:

“Well, Mr. Big Brother I.R.S. man, let’s try something different, take my pound of flesh and sleep well.

“The communist creed: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.

“The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed.”

Jack Cook, Stack’s father-in-law, told interviewers, “I knew Joe had a hang-up with the I.R.S. on account of them breaking him, taking his savings away. And that’s undoubtedly the reason he flew the airplane against that building. Not to kill people, but just to damage the I.R.S.” Meanwhile Hunter’s son, Ken, stated during an interview, “Part of being an American, whether you agree with what’s going on in the government or not is you pay your taxes. This isn’t someone who couldn’t afford to pay his taxes. He had an airplane and an almost $300,000 dollar house, and we’re talking about what, three or four thousand dollars that he didn’t want to pay? That’s ridiculous.”

The morning television show Good Morning America interviewed both Ken Vernon and Stack’s adult daughter, Samantha Bell. During the interview, Bell was asked if she considered her father a hero. “Yes,” she replied. “Because now maybe people will listen,” though she did state his actions were “inappropriate.” Ken Hunter retorted, “How can you call someone a hero who after he burns down his house, he gets into his plane … and flies it into a building to kill people? My dad Vernon did two tours of duty in Vietnam. My dad’s a hero.” Bell apologized and extended her condolences to the Hunter family.

“IRS Worker to be Buried Friday.” NBCDFW. February 22, 2010. Accessed: February 18, 2020. https://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/irs-worker-to-be-buried-friday/1863994/?amp (image source, Hunter)
“Stack’s Daughter Says He’s a Hero.” NBCDFW. February 22, 2010. Accessed: February 18, 2020. https://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/stacks-daughter-says-hes-a-hero/1863984/?amp (image source, Stack)
“Texas IRS crash pilot a ‘hero,’ daughter says.” Herald-Tribune. February 22, 2010. Accessed: February 18, 2020. https://www.heraldtribune.com/news/20100222/texas-irs-crash-pilot-a-hero-daughter-says
“Plane attack victim’s son speaks.” KVUE. February 19, 2010. Accessed: February 18, 2020. https://www.kvue.com/mobile/article/news/plane-attack-victims-son-speaks/269-411654090
“Tax Protester Crashes Plane Into IRS Office.” Wall Street Journal. February 19, 2010. Accessed: February 18, 2020. https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748703315004575073401102945506
Wiesenthal, Joe. “The Insane Manifesto Of Austin Texas Crash Pilot Joseph Andrew Stack.” Business Insider. February 18, 2010. Accessed: February 18, 2020. https://www.businessinsider.com/joseph-andrew-stacks-insane-manifesto-2010-2
Brick, Michael. “Man Crashes Plane Into Texas I.R.S. Office.” The New York Times. February 18, 2010. Accessed: February 18, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/19/us/19crash.html (image source, IRS building)

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