I, probably like most people who travel in libertarian circles likely, have friends on both sides of the abortion aisle. The last few days my friends who are against abortion have been celebrating this piece of news:
Michael Bowman, a 53-year-old self-employed computer software developer from Columbia City, Oregon, hasn’t paid his federal income taxes since 1999.
He says it’s because his Christian ideals don’t allow him to pay into a system that funds abortions. In a YouTube video explainer of his defense, he likened paying taxes that then go toward funding abortions to German citizens under Nazi rule who outed Jewish citizens, sending them to their deaths.
And according to The Associated Press, he beat the feds in court this week.
Unfortunately, many of my friends celebrating this piece of news apparently stopped reading at this point. If they had read further, they would have learned that Bowman didn’t win an argument saying that being forced to pay for something that are at odds with his religious beliefs is wrong. He won an argument saying that he didn’t commit felony tax evasion:
To be clear, Bowman won the battle, not the war he’s fighting with the IRS and the Oregon U.S. District Court, when federal Judge Michael W. Mosman dismissed a felony tax evasion charge against Bowman.
Mosman ruled that the government’s indictment failed to provide any evidence that Bowman tried to conceal money from or misled the IRS by cashing his paychecks instead of depositing them and keeping a low bank balance so tax collectors couldn’t garnish wages from it to pay what it says are back taxes owed.
From what I’ve been able to ascertain, Bowman hasn’t made any effort to conceal the fact that he’s not paying taxes. He’s not evading taxes, he’s outright refusing to pay them. However, this decision doesn’t mean that his battle is over and that people can now avoid paying taxes by declaring that they’re Christian and therefore unwilling to pay taxes due to their opposition to abortion. The charge was dismissed without prejudice, which means prosecutors can seek a new indictment. Moreover, Bowman is still facing misdemeanor charges for willfully refusing to pay taxes.
I believe that people shouldn’t be forced to pay for something they don’t want. If Bowman doesn’t want his money going towards supporting abortion, he shouldn’t be forced to pay money that goes towards supporting abortion. Unfortunately, the legal system in the United States doesn’t believe as I do, which means Bowman will likely be found guilty and be forced to pay the taxes he owes along with the penalty.