What are you doing for the Lord? If you don’t like what I’m doing, do something better. - Kent Hovind at opening of Dinosaur Adveture Land in Repton, AL
I have not filed any income tax in twenty eight years. If there is a law requiring me to file some, I would like to see it.
Kent Hovind -CSE 103 Class 6 Income Tax - at 0:2:15.
The first quote is from Abigal Megginson's coverage of the opening of the new Dinosaur Adventure Land in Repton, Alabama. It reminds me of what I like and admire about Kent Hovind - his determination to live a purpose driven life, his strong sense of independence from any earthly power and strong work ethic.
This admiration for Kent, in spite of my belief that much of what he teaches ranges from deluded to batshit crazy, makes me sympathetic to the notion that he is getting a raw deal from some of his critics. I follow the flagship anti-Hovind site - Kent Hovind's Worst Nightmare . And I do think it gets a little nasty sometimes and obsesses about irrelevant matters, such as Kent's marital woes, which are quite ordinary for someone who served a long stretch in prison.
But then there is that second quote, which gives me pause.
Before I continue, though, here is a brief background on Hovind for those who are new to the topic. Veteran readers cans skip it.
About Kent Hovind
Kent Hovind is an Independent Baptist Minister. He is a strong believer in Young Earth Creationism, a hyper-literal reading of the Bible that gives you a universe roughly 6,000 years old. That is, of course, not nearly enough time for evolution to work and it also flies in the face of conventional science in other fields such as geology and astronomy.
Hovind insists the Bible is literally true and scientifically accurate. One of the implications of YEC is that humans and dinosaurs must have co-existed - hence his sobriquet Doctor Dino.
The dinosaur theme inspired the original Dinosaur Adventure Land in Pensacola, which went under after Kent was convicted on a variety of tax-related charges in 2006. In 2015 just before his release, he was tried on a new set of charges related to things he did in response to the seizure of property in the first conviction. He was convicted on one charge and the jury did not reach a verdict on others. The charge he was convicted on was dismissed allowing him to be released in the summer of 2015.
He rebooted his ministry starting with a youtube channel - Kent Hovind OFFICIAL and relocated to Repton Alabama, where the new Dinosaur Adventure Land just opened.
Next is a review of my Hovind coverage, which might also be skipped, if you have been following along
About My Coverage Of Hovind
I started covering Kent Hovind in 2012. I picked up the story, as I usually do, from a Tax Court decision. Reader interest motivated me to look further into Hovind's tax history, which turned out to be a decades-long affair.
My coverage after that was pretty sporadic. Here is a summary through May 2014. It would have tailed off, but for a major development. While nearing the end of his term, Kent was indicted again. This time it was for filings that were made to affect the title of property seized as a result of the first conviction.
That trial made Kent a celebrity inside the right wing conspiracy bubble all the way up to Alex Jones, but never quite making it to Fox. That motivated me to invest time and even money into covering the story enlisting the support of my friend Jonathan Schwartz of Interlock Media, whose investigative work uncovered the holdout juror, Don Camacho, who saved Kent Hovind from serving a lot more time.
You're looking at a guy who's been in jail for ten years under a microscope and I'm going to send him to jail for the rest of his life because he had a conspiracy in the open ???------Don Camacho
After that trial wrapped up, I stopped covering Hovind on Forbes, but continued here. Recently I did do a Forbes piece, but that was more about a recently published book that featured Hovind rather than Hovind himself.
Still A Tax Story?
Now I am asking myself whether Hovind continues to be a legitimate tax story. According to Ernie Land, the new structure is conventionally tax-compliant. The property in Repton is owned by Creation Science Evangelism Ministries Inc, which is recognized as a 501(c)(3) by the IRS and recently had Form 990 released on guidestar. The Form 990 was prepared by a licensed CPA.
Kent is not compensated by CSEM. According to Ernie, Kent earns money from his intellectual property. It is pretty clear that he lives very modestly so he would not need much. I also have formed the impression, that Kent is actually holding himself accountable to a board that wants him to not get into further tax trouble.
Nonetheless, there is still a tax story, but first I would like to discuss the perception of unfair treatment by critics, which was raised by Ernie Land.
Besides his youtube channel, Kent has also been spreading his message by speaking at churches. According to Ernie Land, Kent's critics are endeavoring to have him deplatformed.
Robert Baty crossed the line by stalking Kent to a level of using the information we put up to make every effort to vilify Kent by making unwanted calls to the Churches we post information about Kent and his speaking engagements. Even after he is informed his communications are unsolicited and unwanted he continues to troll them and their sites or posts making undesirable comments. In addition his trolls follow suit by making unwanted post on Church sites. These trolls are pure evil. The Churches are complaining to us.Something like that is going on. Here is an example of Bob Baty communicating with a church that served as a Hovind venue.
I asked Robert Baty for his response
I'm not sure what "line" you have reference to.I'll leave it for the reader to decide whether Baty's behavior constitutes harassment.
On the record, whatever contact I have had with sponsors of Kent Hovind's performances is not, has not been harrassing or harrassment.
Kent and his people have always had the problem of falsely accusing me and then refusing to face me.
If any of them are serious about issues related to Kent Hovind, I am more than willing to begin the negotiations and produce a proper exchange of ideas on matters of mutual interest, and I would be willing to include any harrassment charge they may wish to bring against me.
Perhaps my communications with Tammy Hastings would be an ideal study.
Or my contact with the sponsors of his Boise City, OK performances last summer. I have an article on that posted on my kehvrlb.com website.
The more interesting question is whether Hovind in presenting himself to his fellow Christians is being fully open and honest. I'm inclined to say that the innocence narrative that he has been promoting is not an honest one, regardless of its merit.
Kent was convicted of "structuring". Structuring is a crime, but it is one that can be committed innocently. Banks and some other institutions are required to file reports when people deal with amounts of currency in excess of $10,000.
The crime of structuring is arranging your transactions to stay below $10,000 with the purpose of avoiding the bank reporting. No further nefariousness is required. Imagine a kid from a big fairly prosperous family who makes out like a bandit on his First Communion or Bar Mitzvah ending up with $11,000.
His uncle Bob who knows about such things advises him that to avoid being hassled by a bank report, little Joe's mom should make two deposits rather than one into Joe's savings account. Believe it or not, but that is a crime.
Of course, Hovind did it on a grander scale, but there is no question that his purpose in keeping cash transactions below $10,000 was to avoid bank reporting. And it is likely that his dealing in cash was related to his refusal to file income tax returns, but the latter is not necessary for the structuring charge.
But Why Not Income Tax Evasion?
The obligation to file income tax returns and pay the computed tax is quite real, despite what you might gather if you listen to Kent Hovind's presentation or read the work of the late Irwin Schiff. That obligation is backed up by criminal sanctions.
Kent made some preparations for that contingency. There was something called the Cheek defense. If you could convince a jury that you sincerely believed in your preposterous legal theories you could avoid being guilty of income tax evasion. Kent had letters from tax professionals, to use the term loosely, explaining to him why he didn't have an obligation to file. So he was ready for a charge of income tax evasion, although there is a good chance the letters would not have helped him that much.
I get the sense that one of the reasons Kent is so upset by the structuring is that he was blindsided by it. He was ready to be charged with tax evasion, but structuring came in from left field. He was playing by the rules as he understood them. Dealing in cash but drawing out around $9,500 or so at a time so there were no reports from the bank not realizing that the government had another trick up its sleeve.
The Incomplete Innocence Narrative
The government seized our ministry assets ten years ago, put me in jail for nearly nine years. I got a ten year sentence for structuring. Kent Hovind.In some ways the shortcut that the government took in prosecuting Hovind mainly for structuring (Although don't forget there is also interfering with the administration of the internal revenue laws and the matter of the unpaid payroll taxes of the "missionaries") rather than income tax evasion is working out for Hovind. He frames his innocence narrative around being convicted of something that does not appear to be a crime.
There is a but though. Does Hovind think that it was really OK for him to go decades without filing income tax returns and profiting from telling others to follow that course? And does he have any doubt that that was why the IRS Criminal Investigation was interested in him?
Does the story begin in 2006 with the structuring charges or can we look further a few years to see Hovind suing to resist a summons for the examination of bank records? Or perhaps back a decade to see Hovind soliciting opinions that the income tax is voluntary.
I pretty much reviewed the bidding on this issue in 2015 when Hovind was released, if you want to go into it further.
What Puzzles Me?
Viewing Hovind as a religious leader of sorts, it strikes me that what he should do is make a statement to the effect that he took really, really bad legal advice and got into a lot of trouble for it, but that he has put that behind him and will be conventionally tax compliant in the future.
Why doesn't he do that? Does he continue to believe that his decades long tax defiance was the right thing to do? I asked Ernie Land about that. Here is what he wrote:
These misconceptions could easily be cleared up if the IRS had answered the many, many letters Kent sent in the 90’s addressing the many patriot arguments about taxation. Taxation was noticed as voluntary for years and the argument about social security numbers, 14th amendment citizens, sovereign citizens, federal territories, etc. all exist and have credibility. Those in Government could address it, but choose not to answer those arguments because it would reveal the errors, and conspiracies that exist in Government. People are finally waking up to the many corrupt moves our Government and it’s agencies have made. I believe these are not just theories, but in fact real government cover ups to take away American’s freedoms and create a slave mentality of it’s people.So that more or less solves the puzzle. The executive summary would be that Hovind thinks he was right to resist income taxes for decades.
I can tell you Kent feels the same way, but he also now realizes in order to continue his kingdom work he must accept the fact they have the standing army to force people to do the governments will in the area of commerce. If he could deal in silver and gold (the only real money) and did not need to bank, then he could operate as a free man. However, if anyone deals in USD they fall back into the trap the government set of forcing the trade of real money out of America, and moving America to a slave State for all who use it’s commerce. My theory is this you can become and claim to be a free man, instead of a citizen, but the moment you go back to trade in a USD you enter back into the jurisdiction that allows the government to attack you.
Real simple, have the IRS respond to questions with answers to the many, many letters Kent sent to them. The law tells us they have to answer, so why was the IRS allowed to break the law, and the Court was OK with their law breaking.
Why Not Tell The Whole Story?
This is what aggravates me about the innocence narrative. Hovind starts the story with the structuring charge and leaves out everything that led up to it. Without structuring Hovind might have had a shorter sentence and there is property that would not have been forfeited for structuring. But if the prosecutors didn't have structuring as part of their arsenal, they might have forced him to try to put on his Cheek defense against income tax evasion and that might not have gone that well. The property that was seized for structuring might well have gone to put a dent into the civil liability for income tax of over three million including interest and fraud penalty, which was confirmed by the Tax Court and the Eleventh Circuit and is likely still hanging over him.
I don't really have a dog in this fight, but it would seem to me that Christian leaders who are asked to hold up Hovind as a good example should be aware of more of the tax defiance story than he shares. They might agree with his views on the illegitimacy of the income tax or they might think that his preaching on the lie of evolution is so good that odd theories that he has in other areas can be ignored particularly since he no longer actively advocates them.
Nonetheless, they should be aware that when the IRS came knocking on Hovind's door, it was about the taxes not the dinosaurs.
I actually have plenty of things to write about without Kent Hovind. I will keep in touch with the players in the narrative like Ernie Land and Bob Baty and Rudy Davis. I am quite fond of all of them. Abigal Megginson has more from the opening day story, which will be coming after she takes care of some school work.
I won't predict an end to my Hovind coverage after the last bit of material is squeezed out of Abigal's day at the park, but I am hoping I will be taking a long break after that.
Peter J Reilly CPA writes on taxes for forbes.com. The Kent Hovind story is the only one that he has managed to lose money on.