A federal judge has sentenced a Christian man who refused to pay his federal income taxes because they fund killing babies in abortions.
Michael Bowman, of Columbia City, Oregon, refused to pay income taxes or file tax returns for more than two decades. He repeatedly has made it very clear why: He believes unborn babies are valuable human beings, and killing them is wrong.
His attorney, Matthew Schindler, said the IRS did not take action against his client for almost 20 years. He said this led his client to believe that the IRS made an exception for his deeply-held religious views.
“The problem is, is when you don’t enforce the law then someone who takes that kind of principle position starts to believe, I’m right, I’m right, I’m doing this the right way, and what I’ve said is correct, and otherwise the IRS would do something,” Schindler said.
Bowman is a self-employed computer software developer who owes at least $800,000 in back taxes, according to the Herald. If convicted, he could have faced an additional $25,000 in fines and jail time.
His first trial ended in a mistrial but, after problems with the first, a second trial has resulted in him getting probation and being forced to pay fines.
A judge Thursday sentenced a northwestern Oregon man to probation for four counts of willfully failing to file tax returns after the court last year threw out his religious objection as a viable defense in an unusual second trial with no jury or witnesses.
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“I”m down to nothing and I’m doing this on principle,” Bowman, 56, said.
The jury was stuck on the key question of whether Bowman intentionally failed to follow the law.
U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman later told the lawyers that he had erred in allowing Bowman to explain his religious objection to filing tax returns during the trial and that his instructions to jurors were poor.
At a second trial before only the judge, Mosman said he wouldn’t allow Bowman to raise what’s called a “good faith” defense that he believed the government owed him an accommodation.
Before sentencing Thursday, Mosman said he didn’t believe Bowman was a con man trying to avoid his tax obligation but that there was a sincere belief behind it.
Mosman said that informed his decision to place Bowman on probation for refusing to pay taxes from 2011 through 2014. Mosman also ordered Bowman to pay $138,026 in restitution, file tax returns by April 15 each year and provide probation officers with access to his financial information.
The Oregon man has very personal as well as religious reasons for not wanting his tax dollars to pay for abortions. When he was young, he said his girlfriend was forced by her parents to abort their unborn baby, and he was unable to stop it.
“It’s unfair to Christians that actually care about their fellow human beings,” Bowman said. “We don’t force people to do what we think and the very definition of freedom is, we all should be free to do what we want to do, as long as it’s not attacking other people, and they’re definitely attacking us.
“So, I’m not saying taxes are illegal, I believe they are and I think that if the government would just sit down and accommodate me under the law, like I’ve asked for, this problem would’ve been solved a long time ago, a long time ago. They just are very stubborn, they don’t want to do it,” he continued.
Bowman lives in Oregon, one of 16 states that forces its taxpayers to pay for elective abortions through its medical assistance program. Nationwide, taxpayers also give about half a billion dollars to Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion chain in the U.S.
Many Americans oppose their tax dollars being used to pay for abortions. A recent national poll by Marist University found that a majority of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortions, while just 39 percent support them. Similarly, a 2016 Politico/Harvard University poll found that 36 percent of likely voters supported taxpayer funding for abortions, while 58 percent opposed it.