PORTLAND — Michael Bowman of Columbia City believes killing unborn babies is wrong, and that it is also wrong that tax revenue would in any way fund the killing.
For that reason, the pro-life Christian has over the past two decades accumulated a tax debt of at least $800,000 to the federal government, and has been facing possible prison time because of it.
But in action that garnered national media attention last month, a federal court in Portland declared a mistrial in the Internal Revenue Service’s case against Bowman, which means — for now at least — he won’t be punished for failing to pay his taxes.
As reported by The Oregonian, local TV stations, NBC News and more, the 12-member jury of eight women and four men deliberated for 11 hours but could not come to a verdict in the case. However, because of the mistrial, the government could refile charges against him.
Bowman’s attorney, Michael Schindler, said the IRS waited almost 20 years to take legal action against his client,. This led Bowman to think that the IRS made an exception for his sincere religious views.
A self-employed computer software developer, Bowman said he also has personal as well as religious reasons for his stance. When he was young, his girlfriend was forced by her parents to abort their unborn baby, and he was not able to stop it.
Oregon is one of 16 states that forces its taxpayers to pay for elective abortions through its medical assistance program. Nationwide, taxpayers also have been funding a large share of Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion chain in the nation, although the Trump adminsitration just last month defunded about $60 million in federal monies that the organization has received annually.
In 2018, Bowman won a victory in court when a federal judge dismissed one of the charges against him — felony tax evasion. But this summer’s trial focused on four misdemeanor charges that Bowman still faced for failling to file tax returns. If ever convicted, he could still face prison time and a $25,000 fine in addition to what the IRS alleges he owes in taxes.
Schindler noted that during the nearly two decades that the IRS took no action against Bowman, his client never did a single thing to hide from the government or conceal his money. Bowman banked the whole time in the same account and worked under the same business name.
Schindler further noted that while the IRS has not collected a dime of the money it says Bowman owes, the government has spent half a million dollars taking him to court.
Prosecutors contended that Bowman disobeyed the law simply because he disagreed with it. But according to the Oregonian, both Schindler and Bowman, who testified for three hours during the weeklong trial, emphasized that Bowman had a sincere belief that the First Amendment, the Oregon constitution and the federal Religious Freedom Reformation Act either permitted his religious objection or required the federal government to accommodate his religious objection to funding Planned Parenthood and abortions.
In its reporting on the Bowman case, the media pointed out that surveys show many Americans oppose their tax dollars being used to pay for abortions. A recent national poll by Marist University found that a majority of Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortions, while just 39 percent support them. Also, a 2016 Politico/Harvard University poll found that 36 percent of likely voters supported taxpayer funding for abortions, while 58 percent opposed it.