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A Christian man who refuses to pay his taxes until the government stops funding abortion has won an historic lawsuit against the IRS.

Michael Bowman has refused to file a tax return or pay taxes since 1999.  “I’m not a tax protester. I love my country,” he told reporters. “I have a duty to my country. I have a duty to my conscience.” reports: The IRS has sent him numerous warnings over unpaid taxes from 2002 to 2014, and in 2012 the Oregon Department of Revenue began garnishing money from Bowman’s bank account. In response, he started cashing out his paychecks and leaving only a minimum balance in his account.

This, federal prosecutors say, constituted “remov[ing] his income from the reach of taxing authorities.” They indicted him for felony tax evasion in the amount of $356,857, as well as four misdemeanor counts of willful failure to file taxreturns.

Bowman’s attorney, Matthew Schindler, argued that his client was fully transparent every step of the way, from disclosing all of his paychecks to cashing them at his own bank, under his own name.

“Like a player collapsing as they lose Twister, the government has reached too far forward and stretched way too far back,” his motion to dismiss read.

Last week, US District Judge Michael Mosman sided with Bowman on the felony charge, ruling that the feds failed to show he attempted to conceal income or deceive the government. Prosecutors remain free to re-introduce the charge in the future, and are currently weighing whether to do so.

“First, I would love to pay taxes so as to have a normal life, however, our government is using the tax dollars to fund Planned Parenthood; which commits abortions – the death of the innocent,” Bowman said. “Apparently, a woman has the right to choose, but evidently, I do not.”

He also took aim at the common rejoinder that every American citizen has to pay taxes for things with which they might personally disagree, such as war. “You see, the Constitution grants certain abilities to the government, e.g. funding the military, but killing children is not a Constitutional backed, compelling interest of the government by any stretch of the imagination,” Bowman explained.

Planned Parenthood receives more than $500 million per year from the federal government, and performs more than 300,000 abortions. Federal law forbids taxpayer dollars from being directly spent on abortions, though pro-life groups argue that the money still enables abortion facilities to grow their reach and influence, and spend more revenue from other sources on abortions.

“All the government has to do is put a check box on the tax forms that says check here to support Planned Parenthood, and write in your donation amount,” Bowman proposed. “Then, just like any church or charity, Planned Parenthood will be funded by those that have no problem with it, and the 150 million people like me that are pro-life, can pay their taxes and live knowing we kept our conscience clean.”

He vowed that he will continue his resistance as long as the government continues funding the abortion industry.

“My effort [is] about standing up, standing firm for my Constitutional rights, and getting the government to honor title 42 Chapter 21.b The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, so that I may live a peaceful life, and in the end face God, and hopefully have Him say, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!” he said.

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That's not going to work

Pertinent Supreme Court cases:

Adams v. Commissioner, 170 F.3d 173 (3d Cir. 1999) – the 3rd Circuit affirmed tax deficiencies and penalties for failure to file tax returns and pay tax, holding that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act did not require that the federal income tax accommodate Adams’ religious beliefs that payment of taxes to fund the military is against the will of God, and that her beliefs did not constitute reasonable cause for purposes of the penalties.

United States v. Lee, 455 U.S. 252, 260 (1982) – the 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, stating “The 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 (2d Cir. 2007) – upholding the imposition of a $5,000 frivolous return penalty against the taxpayer, the 2nd Circuit held 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 Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, or the Ninth Amendment.

United States v. Indianapolis Baptist Temple, 224 F.3d 627 (7th Cir. 2000) – the 7th Circuit 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 (8th Cir. 1993) – stating that Ramsey “has no First Amendment right to avoid federal income taxes on religious grounds,” the 8th Circuit rejected his argument that filing federal income tax returns and paying federal income taxes violates his pacifist religious beliefs.  

United States v. Peister, 631 F.2d. 658 (10th Cir. 1980) – the 10th Circuit found Peister’s First Amendment right to freedom of religion was not violated and rejecting his argument that he was exempt from income tax based on his vow of poverty after he became minister of a church he formed.

Salzer v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2014-188, 108 T.C.M. (CCH) 284 (September 15, 2014) – the court found Salzer’s justification for not paying taxes because he objected to the “socialist” policies of the government frivolous, holding that “[t]he legal duty to file a return exists independent of a taxpayer's personal political, economic, social, or religious convictions.

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