Kent Hovind, who ran a theme park based on the notion that humans and dinosaurs were around at the same time, failed to convince a federal appeals court of his theories of the tax law last week. The court upheld Mr. Hovind’s sentence for wilfully failing to deduct and remit federal withholding taxes, and for structuring transactions to avoid cash reporting rules. His tax defense was based on the old tax-protester theory that he had to know exactly which code section required him to withhold for his violation to be willful. The 11th Circuit explained that it doesn’t work that way:
The government proved that Kent knew the tax laws required the collection and payment of withholding taxes, but he refused to comply. Employees of Evangelism Enterprises, peers, and legal counsel testified that Kent disputed the authority of the Internal Revenue Service based on the separation of the church and state, debated the interpretation and application of the withholding requirements, and intentionally characterized Evangelism Enterprises as a “church” and his employees as “missionaries” to avoid tax obligations. Kent had opined to attorney David Gibbs that he was “smarter” than other church officials who had forfeited real property after they refused to collect or pay withholding taxes. Although Kent argued at trial that he was ignorant of the law and the Revenue Service failed to identify a law that required him to collect and pay withholding taxes, the jury was entitled to find that Kent knew about and deliberately violated the tax laws.
He’d surely have won the case if the proof of his tax theories was as compelling as this evidence of the co-existence of humans and dinosaurs:
Cite: Hovind, CA-11, No. 07-10090 (12/30/2008)