Income Tax Refusal On Religious Moral Grounds
Income Tax Refusal On Religious Moral Grounds – The Law And Some Relevant Case Laws.
Some argue that taxpayers may refuse to pay federal income taxes based on their religious or moral beliefs, or objection to the use of taxes to fund certain government programs. These persons mistakenly invoke the First Amendment in support of this frivolous position.The Law: The First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”The First Amendment, however, does not provide a right to refuse to pay income taxes on religious or moral grounds, or because taxes are used to fund government programs opposed by the taxpayer. Nor does the First Amendment protect commercial speech or speech that aids or incites taxpayers to unlawfully refuse to pay federal income taxes, including speech that promotes abusive tax avoidance schemes.
Relevant Case Law:
United States v. Lee, 455 U.S. 252, 260 (1982) – the U.S. Supreme Court held that the broad public interest in maintaining a sound tax system is of such importance that religious beliefs in conflict with the payment of taxes provide no basis for refusing to pay, and stated that “[t]he tax system could not function if denominations were allowed to challenge the tax system because tax payments were spent in a manner that violates their religious belief.”Jenkins v. Commissioner, 483 F.3d 90, 92 (2d Cir. 2007), cert. denied, 552 U.S. 821 (2007) – the court upheld the decision of the Tax Court that the collection of tax revenues for expenditures that offended the religious beliefs of individual taxpayers did not violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Clause, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, or the Ninth Amendment. In addition, the court upheld the imposition of a $5,000 frivolous return penalty against Jenkins.United States v. Indianapolis Baptist Temple, 224 F.3d 627, 629 – 631 (7th Cir. 2000), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 1112 (2001) – the court rejected defendant’s Free Exercise challenge to the federal employment tax as those laws were not restricted to the defendant or other religion-related employers generally, and there was no indication that they were enacted for the purpose of burdening religious practices.United States v. Ramsey, 992 F.2d 831, 833 (8th Cir. 1993) – the court rejected Ramsey’s argument that filing federal income tax returns and paying federal income taxes violates his pacifist religious beliefs and stated that Ramsey “has no First Amendment right to avoid federal income taxes on religious grounds.”Wall v. United States, 756 F.2d 52 (8th Cir. 1985) – the court upheld the imposition of a $500 frivolous return penalty against Wall for taking a “war tax deduction” on his federal income tax return based on his religious convictions and stated the “necessities of revenue collection through a sound tax system raise governmental interests sufficiently compelling to outweigh the free exercise rights of those who find the tax objectionable on bona fide religious grounds.”United States v. Peister, 631 F2d. 658 (10th Cir. 1980), cert. denied, 449 U.S. 1126 (1981) – the court rejected Peister’s argument that he was exempt from income tax based on his vow of poverty after he became the minister of a church he formed; his First Amendment right to freedom of religion was not violated.