Columbia City man sentenced to 4 years probation after claiming religious exemption to taxes
A Columbia City man has been sentenced to four years' probation for refusing to pay taxes because he didn't want to fund abortion procedures.
Michael Bowman, 56, was found guilty of four counts of willful failure to file returns for 2011 through 2014. The judge also ordered Bowman to pay $138,026 in restitution.
Bowman intends to appeal the ruling.
"I'm not a tax protestor, nor am I a felon," Bowman told the Spotlight. "I'm a Christian pro-life man that stood on existing law, USC Title 42 Chapter 21b."
As originally reported by the Oregonian, the case went to trial in August 2019, but at the time, jurors failed to reach a consensus on whether Bowman intentionally broke the law, resulting in a mistrial.
After a new trial, the judge found Bowman guilty on the four criminal counts last December.
Bowman was originally charged with tax evasion, which is a felony, but that charge was dropped.
The federal code cited by Bowman protects the free exercise of religion.
Bowman operated a one-man computer engineering company with a gross income of at least $90,000 each year between 2011 and 2014. Each of those years, Bowman's tax due and owing was at least $25,000, according to court documents.
For decades, federal laws have prohibited the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions, except in cases of rape or incest or if the pregnancy endangers the life of the mother. A 2019 Trump administration rule bars healthcare providers who receive Title X federal funds from counseling patients about abortion or sharing office space with abortion providers. Oregon does pay for abortions for low-income women on Medicaid.
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