This post was originally published on Forbes May 5, 2015
Kent Hovind is facing another trial in the federal court in Pensacola on May 18th. In 2006 Hovind was convicted on a 58 count indictment - interfering with the administration of the Internal Revenue laws, failure to pay payroll taxes on the employees, or as he refers to them "missionaries", working for Creation Science Evangelism and structuring, the systematic withdrawal of cash in amounts somewhat less than $10,000 in order to avoid currency reporting requirements. Hovind was sentenced to ten years in prison, three years of supervised release and forfeiture of over $400,000 in structured funds.
Property of Creation Science Evangelism was seized in lieu of the funds, which is at the root of Hovind's latest trial. He and his co-defendant Paul John Hansen, a CSE trustee, were charged with contempt of court, fraud and conspiracy in connection with their efforts to affect government title to the property. In March, they were convicted of contempt of court, but the jury did not reach a unanimous verdict on the more serious fraud and conspiracy charges. Retrial on those charges is what is happening on May 18.
Independent Baptist minister, Kent Hovind, is a Young Earth Creationist, supporting the notion that there is scientific evidence for a hyper-literal reading of the Book of Genesis. Summing all those begats and tacking on seven days, will give you a world that is about 6,000 years old. Among the implications of YEC is that humans and dinosaurs must have existed contemporaneously. One of Kent Hovind's projects was Dinosaur Adventureland where his version of sound science education could be married to family fun, hence his sobriquet, Doctor Dino.
An implication of YEC with more real world consequences is a fairly massive conspiracy, since YEC contradicts "establishment science" in the fields of biology, geology and astronomy. Tony Reed explains the required scale of the conspiracy in the opening video of his series How Creationism Taught Me Real Science
A conspiracy of the required scale appears to be quite reasonable to Kent Hovind. One of Kent Hovind's most seminal works is Creation Seminar 5 - Dangers of Evolution
I don't know how many people want to invest nearly three hours of lifespan in this epic, so if you want to get to the enumeration of conspiracies, start around 2:15:00. As Hovind explains it people who believe they are created, do not make good slaves. They are the type of people who will throw tea in the harbor. That is why the people who want to institute a New World Order don't want to allow the teaching of creation in the schools.
Hovind believes that there is a secretive elite manipulating events to bring about the New World Order. He starts off with the Protocols of Zion, but indicates that it was not really the Jews; it was the bankers. Among the events that have been staged are the Twin Towers, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the TWA bombing. It goes back further. The great depression, the First World War and even the United States Civil War are all events staged by the conspirators who intend to usher in the New World Order.
How It All Relates To Taxes
I have always been puzzled by the people who are sometimes referred to as "tax protesters", although they will call themselves other things. Although, people will often talk about the immense complexity of the Internal Revenue Code, with it's 80,000 pages (I don't think that is the right number, but it is not really important), the statutory scheme behind basic compliance for most ordinary people is relatively simple. Section 1 imposes a tax on income with rate tables. Section 61 defines income very broadly including by way of example "compensation for services" and Section 6012 requires filing if income is over fairly low thresholds.
Of course, if you stop there, you may end up paying more than you have to, but you will know enough to be in basic compliance. If you start looking through the Code, you will, however, find that most of it does not apply to you, since you are probably not running a bank, a mutual fund or a life insurance company. You are probably not maintaining inventories or mining.
Tax protesters tend to take add a lot of complications to the simple elements of basic compliance and argue that the sixteenth amendment didn't really pass or wages are not income or a host of other things. They will maintain that most of us are deceived into paying an income tax that is not really applicable to us.
Now, in order, to believe those things in the face of an overwhelming number of court decisions that say they are wrong, you have to believe in a conspiracy that includes pretty much the entire federal judiciary. As noted above, conspiracies of that magnitude are perfectly plausible to Kent Hovind and his supporters.
Kent Hovind Not A Tax Protester?
Kent Hovind adamantly maintains that he is not a "tax protester". I have some issues with that. If you go to the flagship website of his supporters #FreeKent you can follow the links to Proof Number one "Letters from professionals absolve Kent Hovind from all wrong-doing". The first letter is from Kent to one of the professionals and starts with:
"I am writing to request your professional opinion regarding the voluntary nature of Form 1040."
The responses are something of potpourri of tax protester arguments, that have been ruled by courts to be frivolous. As Hovindicators often correctly point out Kent Hovind was not convicted of tax evasions, so the letters, which were clearly meant to set up what is called a Cheek defense, really have little to do with what he was convicted of.
Then there is Creation Science 103 - Class 6 "Income Tax"
A bit after the two minute mark Kent says that everybody should follow the law including the government and that he has not filed in 28 years and if there is a law that requires filing, he would like to see it. The discussion that follows has nothing to do with his status as a minister and his vow of poverty. A bit past the six minute mark he launches into the explanation as to why trading services for money is not "income". At 7:30, he gives a qualified plug to Irwin Schiff, who may well have originated many of the arguments used by, for lack of a better term, tax protesters. Irwin Schiff is also in federal prison.
Kent Hovind's supporters are waging an intense social media campaign on his behalf. As noted the flagship website is #FreeKent and Rudy Davis has devoted his youtube channel LoneStart1776 to Kent's defense. There are regular calls, more than daily lately, from Kent and his co-defendant Paul John Hansen and weekly conference call meetings of his supporters along with other material. Hovindicators are hoping to have a stronger turn-out at the upcoming trial than they did at the first. They have gotten a good amount of attention in alternative Christian right wing media including Wall Builders and Alex Jones.
They are frustrated that they have not gotten closer to the mainstream and that they are not receiving much support from other creationists and evangelicals particularly Baptist churches in Pensacola.
The Hovindicators believe that Kent Hovind should not only be acquitted on the current charges, but also have his previous conviction reversed. They tend to cast the matter as the forces of light against the forces of darkness and seem to believe that the people running Kent Hovind's prosecution are altogether wicked and that negative coverage is the result of paid disinformation agents working for the New World Order or something like that.
The arguments that are brought forth in defense of Kent Hovind are multifarious and include things like Jo Hovind not being allowed to put on a robe when she was arrested, a prosecutor who committed suicide when arrested as a pedophile and Judge Margaret Casey Rodgers not allowing open Bibles in the courtroom during the trial.
Paul John Hansen's defense is much more focused. In the second trial he intends to represent himself (although that is not the way he puts it) and will argue that the court does not have jurisdiction over him. It is a very interesting argument and I hope you will be patient as I quote the part of the Constitution that is relevant. It is in Section 8 where Congress is given the power
To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;
In Hansen's view the District of Columbia and those forts and arsenal are the only places where federal statute law rules unless you enter into a contract with the federal government. They have all sorts of ways to trick you into that, but he is wise to them.
The main problem with Hansen's argument is that that clause is followed by the word "And" which is followed by
To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
Among those other powers, for example, is the power to regulate interstate commerce. I think that the bottom line is that the fact that Congress has exclusive jurisdiction in some places does not mean that it has no jurisdiction in others, but we'll see how that goes.
Why This Is Tragic
The Hovindicators are right that the treatment of Kent Hovind has been harsh, particularly this second set of charges. What is most troubling is that a conventionally tax compliant Kent Hovind would not have had to pay a lot of taxes. If Creation Science Evangelism had applied for 501(c)(3) status the support that the ministry received could have been plowed into the real estate with no income taxation. As an ordained minister Kent could have taken a modest salary and a large tax-free housing allowance from CSE. Instead, when he finally gets out he faces an income tax deficiency of over $3,000,000.
Of course, the reason that Kent's sentence on the first conviction is harsher than that of most people who are initially convicted of tax-related crimes, is, in part, his continued insistence that he has not broken any laws. Many cases are settled by pleas and there is credit given in the sentencing guidelines for "acceptance of responsibility". And of course, he believes that 501(c)(3) status is a trap for churches.
The problem with the current prosecution is that rather than encouraging compliance, which is the purpose of criminal prosecution in tax cases, it has created a martyr and a movement that is further increasing alienation. There is a decent chance that a free Kent Hovind under the shadow of a huge civil liability would focus his energy on saving souls, "exposing the lie of evolution" and possibly, I can hope, prison reform and grudgingly become conventionally tax compliant, since he does not view the tax fight as his main focus.
Of course, now that Kent Hovind has doubled down on his insistence on total innocence, it might be hard for the government to back off without creating a bad precedent of sort. Some devout Christians have written me that it may be Kent's pride that is getting in the way.
Kent likens himself to Job and believes that God will scold sympathizers who suggest that he admit some fault.
Why It Will Not End Anytime Soon
Hovind and Hansen are sanguine that Hansen's brilliant territorial jurisdiction arguments are going to stun the government and cause them to back off. I don't think that is likely. I am not going to handicap the upcoming trial. Another hung jury is not out of the question. In a sense, it does not matter since Hansen and Hovind will face sentencing on the charges that yielded convictions in March. It is virtually certain that they will appeal and at least some of their supporters are dedicated enough to keep the cause going.
I have given much more detailed coverage of the events on my alternative tax blog Your Tax Matters Partner. I got into covering this matter as I get into covering most things, through a tax court decision. It is a perfect storm of issues that I find interesting among them are alternative tax theories and the intersection of religion and taxation. Also, the statistics show me that readers find it interesting. So this is my story and I'm sticking with it. I am making arrangements to cover the upcoming trial.
You can keep up with the Hovindicators by following #FreeKent, but if you really want to keep up to date, be sure to check LoneStar1776 regularly.
Bob Baty's facebook site is extremely thorough in its coverage and posts a lot of original source material. The Hovindicators believe that Baty is a paid government disinformation agent and have announced that there are going to be damning revelations about him soon.
Dee Holmes's Hovindology was not being updated that much, but she seems to be catching up now.
Also you can keep an eye on the Pensacola News Journal.
The commentary from both sides tends to be on the vitriolic side. I've caught it from both directions having been identified as both a Hovind sympathizer and part of what Hovondicators call the "enemy camp". Kent Hovind has been nice enough to invite me to a barbecue that he will throw at Dinosaur Adventureland when he and Hansen are freed.
I really would like that, but I am not optimistic.