Christians in court over tax avoidance; claim it goes against God’s will

Christians in court over tax avoidance; claim it goes against God’s will

- Fanny Alida Beerepoot and Rembertus Cornelis Beerepoot, two Christian siblings who are missionaries were in court for refusing to pay taxes

- The two say they rely on the blessings they receive from God and pay his due to him

- They claim paying taxes to the Commonwealth would mean rebelling against God, which would amount to breaking the first commandment

Two siblings who happen to be Christian missionaries found it difficult to provide a single scripture in the Bible to buttress their claim that paying tax to the Australian Taxation Office “goes against God’s will”.

The Supreme Court of Tasmania ordered Fanny Alida Beerepoot and her brother Rembertus Cornelis Beerepoot to pay over AUD$2 million to the Australian Taxation Office after they both failed to pay $930,000 in 2017.

After prosecutors showed evidence that the missionaries were served separate notices to honour their tax obligations, they argued that they belong to God who is supreme in Australia, hence paying tax to the authorities contravenes His will.

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“We rely on the blessings we receive from God which we give to him and not to an outside entity such as the tax office. We don’t own anything because we are His. Transferring our allegiance from God to the Commonwealth would mean rebelling against God and therefore breaking the first commandment. As we reject God, the curses upon us become greater, but if we return to God’s teachings there will be healing,” Fanny Alida Beerepoot is quoted as having told the court.

Her brother, Rembertus Cornelis Beerepoot, backed her by claiming that they used to pay taxes to the taxation office ignorantly until they became enlightened that God was unhappy about it.

He further warned that continuing to pay taxes to the Australian authority would trigger the wrath of God on the country.

“As we move outside of God’s jurisdiction, this country has received curses which we’re already seeing in the form of droughts and infertility,” Rembertus warned.

After listening to the prosecutors and the arguments of the Beerepoot family, Associate Justice Stephen Holt gave the defendants an opportunity to back their defense with any scripture in the Bible, but they reportedly failed.

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“If you can’t find me a passage in scripture or gospel that says ‘thou shall not pay tax’ then can you see I have difficulty finding a starting point?,” the judge asked.

According to reports, Justice Stephen Holt ordered the duo to pay to the Australian taxation authorities an estimated AUD$1.159 million and AUD$1.166 million respectively covering their income tax debt, penalties, administrative costs and running balance account deficit debts.

“I believe the submissions to be honestly and genuinely held beliefs rather than an attempt to avoid tax liabilities, but in my view, the Bible effectively said that civil matters and the law of God operate in two different spheres.”

Meanwhile, at a time when plastic has become a herculean menace for many countries, here in Ghana, young individuals are undertaking projects that turn plastic waste into fuel like grease, diesel and petrol for household use.

The project has received a GEFSGPGhana UNDP Ghana support to begin the pilot stage of the laudable initiative.

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