A federal appeals court has sided with the Internal Revenue Service in a case involving a war resister who refused to pay taxes.
Elizabeth Boardman, a lifelong Quaker, sued under the Free Exercise Clause and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, seeking to restrain the IRS from using the term “frivolous” to describe her religious practice of war tax resistance, and ordering it to “put into operation procedures for processing disputes, claims, collections and litigation adverse to taxpayers who refuse to pay taxes because of conscience or religion that are respectful, efficient, transparent and minimally burdensome and that lead to Tax Court determinations upon taxpayer request.”
Her action was dismissed by the District Court for the Eastern District of California, and she appealed. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court, stating that it correctly determined that the complaint was barred by the Anti-Injunction Act of Code section 7421(a).
“Accordingly, the Anti-Injunction Act precludes federal jurisdiction here unless Appellant can satisfy the judicially created exception to the Act by demonstrating (1) irreparable injury if her case is not heard, and (2) certainty of success on the merits,” the court stated. “Appellant fails to satisfy either requirement. Appellant has a legal remedy in the form of a suit for refund and thus will suffer no irreparable injury.”
Boardman also failed to satisfy the second requirement, according to the court. “Appellant also has not shown that she is certain to succeed on the merits of her claim that the government’s listing of war tax resistance as a frivolous’ legal position for purposes of [Code section 6702] connotes discouragement of religion or otherwise violates her free exercise rights.”
The court cited its decision in Jenney v. United States, 755 F.2d 1384, which held that a taxpayer’s attempt to claim a war tax deduction is frivolous within the meaning of Code section 6702 because “[t]here is no provision in the Internal Revenue Code for a war tax deduction or credit, and taxpayers have no constitutional right to refuse to pay federal taxes because of their anti-war sentiments.”
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