A Christian family, who argued against paying tax because it “goes against God’s will”, have been ordered to pay more than $2 million to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
Christian missionaries Fanny Alida Beerepoot and Rembertus Cornelis Beerepoot appeared in the Supreme Court of Tasmania on Wednesday where they faced charges for failing to pay around $930,000 in income tax and other charges in 2017, the ABC reports.
The court heard the family had previously paid tax but had since developed a “deepened spiritual relationship” which led them to the belief that doing so was “against God’s will”.
Representing himself in court, Rembertus claimed paying tax would take their dependence on God away from them and in turn curse Australia. In his argument, Rembertus drew on the disasters which have impacted the country such as drought and infertility and claimed these instances would continue if they paid tax.
“Transferring our allegiance from God to the Commonwealth would mean rebelling against God and therefore breaking the first commandment,” he said in court according to the ABC.
To which Fanny reportedly added: “As we reject God, the curses upon us become greater, but if we return to God’s teachings there will be healing. 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.”
Their argument was not accepted by Associate Justice Stephen Holt who claimed they did not have a valid point due to the fact there is no evidence in the Bible to suggest paying tax is an act against God.
He said in court, according to the ABC, that with no passage in scripture or gospel that says “thou shall not pay tax” they had nothing to go on, and therefore must abide by the law as the rest of the country.
“I believe the submissions to be honestly and genuinely held beliefs rather than an attempt to avoid tax liabilities,” he explained in court. “But in my view, the Bible effectively said that civil matters and the law of God operate in two different spheres.”
Fanny and Rembertus were in turn ordered to pay around $1.159 million and $1.166 million respectively which would cover their income tax debt among other charges.