Michael Bowman, 53, of Columbia City, Oregon, hasn’t paid federal income taxes since 1997.
Why? Because he believes paying them while the government funds abortions would make him complicit in the deaths of innocent preborn children.
After a previous attempt to collect from Bowman in civil court, the IRS prosecuted him for felony tax evasion last year under §7201 of the tax code, and for four misdemeanor counts of willful failure to file tax returns under §7203. One way or another, the IRS wanted his money.
So Bowman took his case to court. The law says that anyone who “willfully attempts in any manner to evade or defeat a tax” is guilty of a felony. To do that, precedent says, one must intend to deceive or mislead the IRS as they assess or collect. In fact, Spies v United States (1943) found that merely not paying the taxes does not rise to the level of a felony.
The court found that Bowman did not intend to deceive or mislead. The IRS’s only claim of “evasive conduct” is that Bowman would cash his paychecks at the bank instead of depositing them, so that his bank account would remain low. Bowman’s lawyers argued that was not evasive, and thus he was not guilty of a felony. The court agreed.
Bowman won the battle, but his war is far from over while the IRS appeals his case to the next level.
Bowman’s Pro-Life beliefs were not the basis of his legal argument, and are unlikely to become the focus of the trial. Rather, the question will be whether his act of civil disobedience makes him guilty of a felony, or of the included misdemeanors — each of which includes a penalty of up to one year in prison and a $25,000 fine.
The question of not paying taxes is a legal and moral one. Aside from that complex issue, Texas Right to Life absolutely agrees with Bowman that not one cent of taxpayers’ dollars should go to Planned Parenthood or any other abortion businesses.
Take action. Support the Pro-Life priorities for the 86th Texas Legislature, especially bills in the House and Senate that will prevent state and local taxes from funding abortion.