Why Did John McAfee Stop Paying Taxes? ‘I’d Just Had Enough’

In a newly released (and non-fungibly tokenized) book, the late entrepreneur talks about his love for crypto and his brushes with the law with characteristic bravado.

AccessTimeIconMar 26, 2022 at 4:00 p.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 3:22 p.m. UTC
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John McAfee, who died in a Spanish prison last year while awaiting extradition to the U.S. on fraud charges, lived a wild life on every conceivable level, which culminated in a high-profile escape from Belize in 2012 after being accused of murdering his neighbor.

When Scottish writer Mark Eglinton interviewed him in a series of conversations in 2019 and 2020, the cybersecurity pioneer turned crypto promoter was in hiding, having fled the U.S on a yacht following the convening of a Grand Jury in Tennessee. McAfee fled to the Bahamas, then Cuba and then finally the Dominican Republic, from where he was extradited to the U.K, the country of his birth. After arriving in London, McAfee went dark. As it turned out later, he had gone into hiding in what has become known as The Bitcoin Hotel in the Barcelona area of Spain, the country where he was eventually arrested while trying to board a flight to Istanbul..

The interviews were originally intended to be for McAfee’s autobiography. When the commissioning publisher refused to pay in crypto, McAfee granted Eglinton permission to publish a book based on their many hours of conversations.

“No Domain: The John McAfee Tapes,” is now set to be adapted into a film. True to the spirit of his subject, Eglinton is selling a special edition of his book, including a non-fungible token (NFT), on the Bitcoin SV blockchain (a fork, or splinter network, from Bitcoin Cash, itself a fork of the main Bitcoin chain) through the Canonic platform. (It's also available in regular form on Amazon.)

Here's an excerpt.

Mark Eglinton: Why was the Grand Jury convened in the first place?

John McAfee: At the end of 2018 I heard about the convening from two separate sources, two weeks in advance of when it was meant to happen. On behalf of the [U.S. Internal Revenue Service,] myself, [my wife] Janice and four of our compatriots were being charged with unspecified tax fraud charges. Grand juries are only convened for felonies. Felonies mean serious jail time. However, I knew this was coming. I had not paid tax for 10 years.

Why not?

I’d just had enough. I’d paid $50 million in income tax over the years. I thought that was plenty. I hadn’t paid tax since I went to Belize, but technically, as an American citizen, even if you’re not living in the country, using the services and driving on the roads, you still have to file and pay 30% of your income to the United States. The only two countries in the world that enforce that rule are the United States and Eritrea! How [frigging] bizarre is that? Anyway, I just said, “I’m sorry. This is insane. I’m not doing this anymore.” For a while nothing happened.

What changed?

In 2017, after my [U.S.] presidential run, I started going onto the international stage to talk about cryptocurrency. I was in Stockholm, London, Barcelona; I showed up wherever anyone would have me and I said the same thing: “Cryptocurrency can free us from the imprisonment that existing currency has put us in.” “What business is it of our governments to know what we earn?’ I also said many times.

I then explained how the [U.S.] dollar and [U.K.] pound, etc. are controlled; The supply can be influenced, which in turn can devalue people’s hard-earned money and how everything is monitored through the central banks. I then explained how, in America, income tax is in fact unconstitutional anyway. It was only ever created to fund the war effort in 1913, but that edict, like many others, was never extinguished after the need for it ceased to exist.

You were basically encouraging people not to pay tax.

I was telling people that I thought taxes were illegal, and if they also felt that they were illegal and/or unjust they should just stop paying, too. Not just that, I was showing them how to do it without getting caught.

Now that hit a nerve, as I knew it would. Here’s the thing: I’m not here just to mouth off. No, I am here to goad and to prod my enemy. I like doing that, just like the Apache Indians had something called “Counting coup” where they knew they could kill their enemy, but preferred to poke them repeatedly and run away. Basically I was annoying the [crap] out of my enemy. But all of this goading finally tipped the balance.

So did you get any warning that they were looking at you?

I got fair warning because the IRS and [Securities and Exchange Commission] started subpoenaing records from companies that I worked for in the states. That was a sign that they were watching me. Most men in my situation would have simply shut the [hell] up. Instead, I started talking louder.

Grand Juries are intentionally top secret so that people can’t run. But I’m John McAfee. You can’t keep a secret from me, especially if you’re my government. I don’t just listen to one source and take it as gospel, though. I got the information verified by another source, and based on that information we knew we had until a certain date to flee the country.

If you hadn’t fled, would someone have literally turned up at your door?

Absolutely, they would have swooped in and collected me in my home at 6 a.m. – with particular emphasis on “swoop” – and I’d have probably been thrown in jail for the rest of my life. I wouldn’t be able to talk to you. I wouldn’t be able to talk to the press. I might be in hiding now, but I get more exposure than ever. Plus I am still prodding that hornets nest as often as possible.

Since I’ve been on the run I have posted publicly on Twitter things like: “The SEC is a festering pustule on the face of America.” I don’t know how you goad them any more blatantly than that. It’s my job to do it because, more than anything, I want the government to show its true face. We can all put on a face, including our governments. But only when it’s poked hard enough and it responds hard enough does it show the world what it really is. And that’s what I’m trying to do with the U.S government. I want the world to see that what’s happening to me could also be happening to them. And in 20 years’ time could be happening to everybody if I don’t at least continue my fight.


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Mark Eglinton is a Scottish ghost writer, biographer and die-hard metalhead. In a previous life he was a professional golf caddie. He has written or co-written 20 books in the fields of music, sports and business. “No Domain: The John McAfee Tapes” is his latest book.

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