An increasing number of Indiana residents are declaring themselves "sovereign citizens" and personally seceding from the United States, says a report from ABC channel 6 in Indianapolis.
By doing so, residents contend that they no longer have to pay taxes, claiming their homes as embassies and using identification cards that show them as diplomats, 6News' Rafael Sanchez reported.
Indiana authorities call such proclamations both illegitimate and illegal. About 10 people every month ask the state to put a seal on a document so that they can claim freedom from taxes.
Channel 6 profiled Donald Moore, a father of seven who has made himself "official- looking" identification that he says exempts him from U.S. laws and U.S. taxes by making him an "ambassador" to the United States.
The ID card "gives me diplomatic immunity," Moore said. "The way I understand it, the federal government is incorporated, and all the states are incorporated. This takes me out of the corporation."
But his assertion was rejected by Indiana's secretary of state.
"Just because you allege something or concoct yourself a document doesn't mean you're getting off the hook," Todd Rokita told channel 6. "You're going to get in worse trouble."
The "Sovereign Citizen" movement, which the Southern Poverty Law Center says has been around since the 1970s, focuses on laws and government paperwork its adherents believe allow them to effectively declare independence from the US.
But that assertion is often challenged in court. Earlier this week, a Florida man was sentenced to two years in prison after followers of the Sovereign Citizen movement convinced him to file a tax return in which he claimed the US government owed him $14 trillion.
According to the Miami New Times, "sovereign citizenship" is proliferating in prisons because of its promises of easy cash from the government and independence from laws.
Channel 6 in Indianapolis notes the case of Jonathan Dilley, who was sentenced to four years in prison for printing his own currency to pay off an $800,000 debt.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist groups in the United States, the sovereign citizen movement originates "in the ideology of the Posse Comitatus, an anti-Semitic group that raged through the Midwest in the late 1970s and 1980s. ... Some of the more famous adherents of sovereign citizens' ideology include Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols and members of the Montana Freemen."