Sunday, December 09, 2012

Court Rejects Quaker's Challenge To Tax Procedures Invoked After Anti-War Withholding Of Amounts Due

In Boardman v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, (ED CA, Dec. 6, 2012), a California federal district court dismissed free exercise claims by a Quaker peace activist who challenged provisions of the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006 (26 USC Sec. 6330(g)) that curtail the administrative appeals process for "frivolous" taxpayer claims. The provision was invoked when plaintiff withheld half of her tax payments due because of her objections to government spending on war. She said she would pay the remaining amounts only if they were redirected to peaceful purposes. Relying on the 1st Amendment and RFRA, plaintiff argued that the government intentionally frustrated her religious beliefs by depriving her of rights and procedures that would have been available had she not asserted a religious motive for withholding a portion of her taxes. The court held that the Anti-Injunction Act (26 U.S.C. § 7421) requires dismissal of the lawsuit, since a ruling in favor of plaintiff would negatively impact the government's tax assessment methods. Alternatively, the court dismissed on the merits, holding that under past precedent plaintiff may not assert a religious objection to the country's tax system, even if she does not dispute her overall tax liability.