Airplane mechanic talks about Texas pilot

February 18, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
A suicide attacker smashed his plane into an IRS building in Austin, Texas on Thursday morning. Now, a second body has been found amid the wreckage.

The pilot has been identified as software engineer Joseph Stack who had California ties. He blamed the IRS for his financial problems. The morning's suicide mission sent 200 IRS employees running for their lives.

"It sounded like a huge, huge bang. Our whole building shook like it was going to shatter," said one IRS employee.

Stack's suburban home also burned down Thursday morning -- he apparently set it on fire before his suicide mission. However, there is little guessing about stack's motivation.

He posted a 3,000 word manifesto online railing against the IRS and claiming the feds robbed him of his savings.

He started a company just outside of Sacramento and left for Texas after he had some trouble with the IRS. The angry statement left behind said, among other things, "There won't be any changes if there isn't a body count." But those who knew him never heard him get angry about the government.

"I was shocked. It was uncharacteristic of the Joe Stack I knew," said Dave Page.

Page is an airplane mechanic who worked on Stack's plane when he lived in Lincoln, just outside of Sacramento. Page describes Stack as an upbeat, hardworking guy who mostly talked about his plane. He only mentioned taxes when talking about a move to Texas.

"That was the reason he moved to Texas. He made a few comments about the tax structure was favorable in Texas and he was looking forward to getting down there and out of California," said Page.

But his problems with the IRS seem to have a played a huge role in his suicide mission. The FBI is now pouring over a six-page note posted online this morning on a website registered to Stack's name. It lists Feb. 18 as the date of his death and describes years of struggle with the IRS.

The rant concludes with this: "I am finally ready to stop this insanity. Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man let's try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well."

"Honestly, I can understand why he did it. It did not surprise me one damn bit," said Michael David Crawford.

Crawford is a software engineer in Silicon Valley who also struggles with the IRS. He says a 1986 law that forces workers to be defined as employees or contractors has most companies hiring engineers through a third-party agency, which takes a cut of the engineers pay.

"It's very hard to get the clients to even speak to us unless we go through an agency," said Crawford.

But tax attorney Brian Clark says the third-party agencies can buffer a company from the tax liabilities of its contractors.

"The company can go about their business and the software engineers or the professionals can be creative doing their work and we have the agency in the middle taking care of reporting for the tax liability," said Clark.

The tax attorney told ABC7 he doesn't think the IRS is singling out software engineers or any other profession that we all have to pay our taxes one way or another.