God-Bothering War Protester Dodges Taxes For Religious Reasons; Judge Will Have None Of It

An Australian woman says paying taxes doesn’t fit with her religion, so she refused to file a return for 10 years. 

The court caught up with her yesterday and fined her $8,500 (US$6,000), which is a mild sentence considering the alternative; Clemencia Barnes, 68, could have been put in jail for eight years.

She failed to lodge a tax return between 2000 and 2010, and early last year was ordered by the Launceston Magistrates Court to do so. However, she failed to lodge the returns and was subsequently charged with failing to comply with [a] court order.

She told Mr. Marron [the judge] … that she had a right to live by her religious ideology. “She said that to comply would be a denial of her own beliefs,” he said. “She said she could not support a system that waged war on Iraq.”


After the verdict, Barnes still claimed that she has the constitutional and spiritual prerogative to protest as she sees fit, even if it means shirking the same financial burden that other citizens must and do shoulder.

“It isn’t just me being difficult or that I think I know more than anyone else; it is my belief that I am allowed to have belief in God,” she said. … Mrs. Barnes, who was accompanied by her “spiritual adviser” Terence Malaher, said she would go home and consider whether she would pay the fine.

The court has taught her nothing, and why would it? Barnes takes directions from the Lord only, and with Him by her side, she gets to be a religious martyr, an anti-war warrior, and an anti-social cheapskate all at once.

(Image via Shutterstock)

About Terry Firma

Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry is the founder of Moral Compass, a now dormant site that poked fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards. He joined Friendly Atheist in 2013.