Best of TaxLetter: Taxes and Religion

Paying Taxes is listed among moral obligations in the Catholic Church's new worldwide catechism, the first since 1566. It addresses the subject of tax compliance in connection with a discussion of the Ten Commandments; particularly, the obligation to honor parents, which is extended to the duty of citizens to civil authorities. "In that context, citing the co-responsibility that all citizens have to the common good, there arises a moral obligation to pay one's taxes," said a spokesman. However, he was quick to note that the moral obligation to pay taxes does not necessarily mean that failing to pay taxes is sinful. (No. 73)

Empire Poultry offered a free kosher chicken to anyone audited by IRS during 1993. Empire had recently been audited and wanted to ease the pain for others. (No. 74)

The Tax Court dismissed Betty Ann Ferguson's petition after she refused to swear or affirm before testifying. Her objection was rooted in two Biblical passages, Matthew 5:33-37 and James 5:12. She offered the Stanton statement, set forth by the Supreme Court of Louisiana, as an alternative:

"I [Betty Ann Ferguson] do hereby declare that the facts I am about to give are, to the best of my knowledge and belief, accurate, correct, and complete."

On appeal, the 5th Circuit Court upheld her religious right to use the Stanton statement and remanded the case back to Tax Court for further proceedings. For those needing to make their religious objection to the terms "oath", "affirm", and "swear" known in court, the relevant cases are: Ferguson v. Commissioner (91-1 USTC par. 50,052, CA-5) and Stanton v. Fought (486 So.2d, La. 1986). They cite numerous other cases supporting religious rights. (No. 73)


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