A Christian family who didn’t pay income tax on the grounds it was “against God’s will’, has been forced to pay $2.3 million by a judge.
The Tasmanian missionaries Fanny Alida Beerepoot and Rembertus Cornelius Beerepoot had failed to pay around $930,000 in income tax in 2017, with Mr Beerepoot telling the court that taxation law in Australia went against the law of God, the ABC reports.
“We believe that the constitution affirms the fact that the Commonwealth resides within the jurisdiction of the law of the Almighty God and the law of the Almighty God is the supreme law of this land," he told the court.
Solicitor Stephen Linden told the court that the two had been served debt notices but hadn’t lodged tax returns.
Beerepoot also argued that “As we move outside of God's jurisdiction, this country has received curses which we're already seeing in the form of droughts and infertility”.
However, Associate Justice Stephen Holt said that if the siblings were unable to find the passage in the Bible that explicitly prohibited the payment of tax, then he had difficulty “finding a starting point”.
"I believe the submissions to be honestly and genuinely held beliefs rather than an attempt to avoid tax liabilities,” he added.
"But in my view, the Bible effectively said that civil matters and the law of God operate in two different spheres.”
He ordered Mr Beerepoot pay an estimated $1.159 million, and Ms Beerepoot pay $1.66 million each to cover the tax debt, interest and administrative costs.
The Beerepoot’s home was auctioned by the local council in August 2017 after the two chose to not pay rates, claiming that the land belonged to God.
"We believe that our heavenly father is sovereign and that he reigns today, thus we worship him and him alone so that his will is established on the earth," the Beerepoot's wrote in a letter to council.
"You are asking us to bow down to a false God which is something we cannot do."
Around $4,000 was due in rates after the two stopped paying rates on their three properties in 2010.
Meander Valley Mayor Craig Perkins said the auction came as they had “exhausted all options”.
“It seems to be a principle thing about paying rates on this property."
The home sold for $120,000.
Earlier this year, a Bendigo man who failed to submit six tax returns between 2012 and 2107 told a court that he was not required to pay tax as he does not consider himself a person.
“As a human being who waives my right to recognition as a person”, Glen James Polglaise said he would not accept the charges of failing to provide a tax return.
He also quoted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Universal Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
However, the judge ordered Polglaise to lodge the outstanding returns.
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