Tax Law

Court Rules Income Tax Is Not Against the Will of God

Cursing Australia since 1910

While it is easy to sympathize with people who don’t want to pay taxes—in fact, everyone reading and/or writing this is almost certainly one of those people—most of the legal arguments cited for not paying them are, shall we say, unsuccessful. See “A Few Tax Arguments Not to Make” (Apr. 13, 2015). Here’s one I did not mention in that post, though only for lack of space.

Australian sources report that a brother and sister in Tasmania have been ordered to pay over two million Australian dollars after a court rejected their argument that paying income tax “goes against God’s will.” Rembertus Cornelis Beerepoot and Fanny Alida Beerepoot, who should be entitled to a substantial tax credit just because of those names, were charged with refusing to pay at least $930,000 in taxes and other charges. The two Christian missionaries told the court that they had paid taxes before 2011, but a “deepened spiritual relationship” had led them to realize that, in fact, paying taxes was contrary to the law of God.

I’m sure that, like me, the most pressing question you have right now is how the F did a couple of Christian missionaries earn so much money in the first place that they ended up owing over $900k of it in taxes? This may be the cumulative total they owed from 2011 to the present, but still, missionary salaries appear to have skyrocketed since the last time I checked on them (which I admit was never). The report unfortunately does not answer that question, (nor does this more detailed one that was actually trying to answer that question).

The Beerepoots, who are certainly blessed in the name department, told the Tasmanian Supreme Court that they believed God’s law was paramount and that it did not allow the diversion of His revenues to any earthly agency. “We rely on the blessings we receive from God,” Fanny Alida Beerepoot said, “which we give [back?] to him and not to an outside entity such as the tax office.” Requiring people to pay taxes took away their dependence on God, said Rembertus Cornelis Beerepoot, and this explained why Australia is “cursed.”

Associate Justice Stephen Holt took issue with this, or at least the tax argument, asking the Beerepoot siblings to point to something in the Bible that supported their position. They apparently could not (my recollection is that the “render unto Caesar” passage would be a problem). Holt said he believed the Beerepoots’ beliefs were honestly and genuinely held and not just an attempt to dodge taxes, but he still ruled against them. He ordered them to pay $1.159 million and $1.166 million respectively, which, again, seems like a lot of cash for missionaries to have lying around, meaning no disrespect to the missionary community.

Americans wishing to try this, perhaps by invoking the First Amendment and/or the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, should be aware that this argument has already been rejected repeatedly. It is 14th on the IRS’s list of Frivolous Tax Arguments, in fact, though those are not listed in any particular order.