The opinion of the court was delivered by: CALDWELL
William W. Caldwell, U.S.D.J.
The defendant has been charged with three counts of income tax evasion in violation of section 7201 of the Internal Revenue Code, 26 U.S.C. § 7201. On September 2, 1987, the court conducted a non-jury trial, at the completion of which the parties were requested to prepare and file briefs on the facts and the law. Upon careful consideration of the evidence presented at trial and the arguments of the parties, the court concludes the defendant is guilty of the offenses charged.
In January, 1980, Arkansas Best Freight Systems ("ABF") hired the defendant as an over-the-road truck driver. At the time of trial, the defendant was still employed in that capacity. For the tax years ending on December 31, 1981, 1982 and 1983, the defendant's gross earnings from ABF were $ 31,539.06, $ 36,198.00 and $ 41,394.71, respectively. He also collected interest and dividends from the Arkansas Best Federal Credit Union. During these three years, ABF withheld no federal income tax from the defendant's pay because in October, 1980, he filed a new employee's withholding allowance certificate, form W-4, in which he increased the number of allowances from one to thirty-five.
The defendant's filing of the amended W-4 was preceded by his association with the Groove Line Production Fund Church earlier in 1980. The church was founded on October 28, 1979 and had been denied tax exempt status under 26 U.S.C. § 501(c)(3). The defendant was ordained a minister and established church office A-124 in his home in Steelton, Pennsylvania. He signed a vow of poverty which provided, in part:
I . . . hereby make an irrevocable gift of all my possessions, real, personal and otherwise, and all my income whatsoever, regardless of the form of the income, to the Church . . . . Outside employment remuneration is not personal income, but rather income gift to the Church and not of the individual . . . .
The Church designated to receive said income and possessions is an order of the Liberty Ministries International, designated as the Order of Almighty God 001247, chapter commonly known as the Grooveline Production Fund Church, office number 124. Therefore, I Stanley R. Washington, hereby take the vow of poverty.
On his 1980 federal income tax return, the defendant claimed a deduction of virtually all of his income for the conversion of his home into a church. The Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") disallowed the deduction since his income was derived from the business of being a truck driver. The IRS informed the defendant that he was not exempted from paying taxes because of his claim that he was a church.
After his ordination, the defendant established a new bank checking account in the name of "Groove Line Production Fund Church Ofc. A 124." His wages from ABF were deposited into the Church account. He had sole signature authority and paid his living expenses out of the account in the same manner as he had done with an earlier account in the name of "Stanley R. Washington." Virtually all activity ceased in the defendant's personal account after he opened the Church account. Checks were drawn on the Church account to pay for such things as home repairs, car payments, car repairs, motorcycle payments, child support and a fitness club membership.
The three elements of a Section 7201 violation are a tax deficiency, willfulness, and an affirmative act constituting an evasion or attempted evasion of the tax. United States v. Hook, 781 F.2d 1166 (6th Cir. 1986). The government has proven each element beyond a reasonable doubt. The evidence is clear that the defendant earned income as a truck driver for ABF, was aware of his legal obligations to pay taxes and file returns, and willfully ...