Paying Taxes to Caesar
“Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are.Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?”“Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away”. Matthew 22
Pensacola evangelist and tax protester Kent Hovind winked at his wife and gave her a reassuring smile as he was led away to jail.
Jo Hovind clutched the necktie he had been wearing. She kept her eyes on her husband until he was out of sight. A 12-person jury deliberated for 21/2 hours on Thursday before finding the couple guilty of all counts in their tax-fraud case.
Kent Hovind, founder of Creation Science Evangelism and Dinosaur Adventure Land in Pensacola, was found guilty of 58 counts, including failure to pay $845,000 in employee-related taxes. He faces a maximum of 288 years in prison.
Jo Hovind was charged and convicted in 44 of the counts involving evading bank-reporting requirements. She faces up to 225 years in prison but was allowed to remain free pending the coupleĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s sentencing on Jan. 9.
Kent Hovind briefly held onto her arm as the verdict was read. Neither reacted at first. But minutes later, she held her face in her hands.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“Nobody likes to pay taxes,Ă˘â‚¬Âť Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Heldmyer said in her closing argument. Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“But we do because itĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s the law, and he is not above the law.Ă˘â‚¬Âť
The jury also granted the prosecutionĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s request for the Hovinds to forfeit $430,400. That amount equals the value of the checks signed and cashed by Jo Hovind in the 44 counts.
U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers released Jo Hovind until sentencing but denied Kent HovindĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s request to be released. He most likely will be detained at either Escambia County Jail or Santa Rosa County Jail until sentencing.
Heldmyer said Kent Hovind was a flight risk and a Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“danger to the community.Ă˘â‚¬Âť
His attorney, Alan Richey, argued that the Internal Revenue Service pursued his client because of his religious beliefs.
Kent Hovind, whose lifeĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s mission is to debunk evolution, says he and his employees are workers of God and therefore exempt from paying taxes. He pays his employees in cash and does not withhold their taxes or pay his share as an employer.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“ThereĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s a difference between wrong and committing a crime,Ă˘â‚¬Âť Richey said in his closing argument. Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“You can do all the wrong things you want and still not commit a crime.Ă˘â‚¬Âť
Jo HovindĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s attorney, Jerold Barringer, argued that his client was a simple piano teacher and grandmother who was not aware of bank-reporting regulations concerning large amounts of cash. Any cash transaction at a bank more than $10,000 triggers a currency-transaction report forwarded to the IRS. She was found guilty of using several methods to take out just enough money to avoid triggering the report.
The Hovinds and their attorneys declined comment. Their supporters, who took up most of the six rows in RodgersĂ˘â‚¬â„˘ courtroom, dwindled in number as the day went on.
Jo HovindĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s son, Kent Andrew Hovind, and two women escorted her out of the U.S. District Courthouse in downtown Pensacola.
Richard Hogan, an acquaintance of Kent Hovind who observed the last day of the two-week trial, said he felt especially bad for Jo Hovind.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“He was the leader, and she probably went along with him,Ă˘â‚¬Âť said Hogan, 53. He first met the Hovinds when their children were homeschooled.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“ItĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s pretty tough to fight Goliath,Ă˘â‚¬Âť Hogan said. Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“The first time the IRS calls, you should go ahead and deal with it. It didnĂ˘â‚¬â„˘t have to come down to this.Ă˘â‚¬Âť