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HARPER v. UNITED STATES

July 26, 1984

Robin HARPER
v.
UNITED STATES of America



The opinion of the court was delivered by: KATZ

 KATZ, District Judge.

 These cross-motions for summary judgment on stipulated facts raise the issue whether plaintiff is liable for a $500 penalty under § 6702 of the Internal Revenue Code for filing a frivolous 1982 income tax return in which plaintiff refused to pay the tax due because of his objections to use of tax money for war purposes.

 Plaintiff's 1982 tax return computed the tax to be $1,512. Plaintiff claimed $1,512 as a "foreign war tax credit." The refusal to pay the 1982 tax was based on his conscientious religious objections to war and war preparations. Plaintiff claimed that he was redirecting the $1,512 tax to an escrow account for the World Peace Tax Fund, and that these funds would be transferred to the U.S. Treasury upon passage by Congress of the World Peace Tax Fund Bill.

 The IRS assessed a $500 penalty against plaintiff for this position under § 6702, which provides:

 
(a) Civil Penalty. -- If --
 
(1) any individual files what purports to be a return of tax imposed by subtitle A but which --
 
(B) contains information that on its face indicates that the self-assessment is substantially incorrect; and
 
(2) the conduct referred to in paragraph (1) is due to --
 
(A) a position which is frivolous, or
 
(B) a desire (which appears on the purported return) to delay or impede the administration of Federal income tax laws,
 
then such individual shall pay a penalty of $500.

 This $500 penalty provision does apply to plaintiff's return. The return contained information on its face showing that the self-assessment was incorrect; the position that there is a "foreign war tax credit" is frivolous. In Franklet v. U.S., 578 F. Supp. 1552 (N.D.Cal.1984) (appeal pending), the Court rejected a claim similar to the present one. The plaintiffs in Franklet opposed the use of their taxes for military purposes on religious or ethical grounds. Several of the plaintiffs had claimed a "war tax credit" on their returns. The Court held that the "statute's plain language, supported by clear legislative history, demonstrates that plaintiffs' actions are ...


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