On Sat, 15 Jul 2000, Francois-Rene Rideau wrote:

> Dear Armchair Economists, dear Cybernethicians,
>    I know that churches have substantial tax exemptions in the US
> and various other countries.
>    In the name of freedom of thought,
> couldn't there be a Church of Tax Evasion?

The US Federal courts have usually shot down uses of religion which
are obviously attempts at circumventing some part of the federal law.

There is a related case involving using other tax exemptions.
I remember an episode of 20/20 which was about a couple that had 
gotten down to zero taxes by cleverly using various exemptions
and they decided to sell their method to others. The IRS busted
them and the federal courts agreed with the IRS. During an interview
with 20/20 reporters, one IRS official admitted that all the individual
applications of the exemptions were legal but that if *done with
an intention to evade taxes* the acts together were illegal.
There was even a vaguely worded part of the code that agreed
with the IRS's interpretation.

There was a similar case where a woman had evaded anti-prostitution law
by claiming that paying her was a donation to the church, and that
sex with her was a religious ritual.

Basic principle: the courts will bust you when use one part
of the code to circumvent another part of the law.

That's the reality of the law, like it or not.


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