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Man Claims to be Tax Exempt 'Because I Live in Heaven'

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on January 24, 2012 5:01 AM

Depending on your religious beliefs, you probably have a very specific view of "heaven." But most likely your version of heaven includes this: no taxes. That's why Florida man Russell Gentile, 40, claimed he didn't have to pay Uncle Sam. Why? Because he lives in heaven.

And the IRS has no jurisdiction over heaven. Which is true.

Unfortunately for Gentile, the IRS didn't exactly buy his argument. He lives in Florida, after all.

Gentile was taken into custody. He faces charges of obstruction of an IRS agent.

Apparently, the Floridian had failed to pay taxes. In 2008 he fired off a letter to the tax agency. He claimed that he didn't have income during 2001 and 2002.

Gentile took his argument a bit further. He claimed that he didn't have to provide information to the IRS. He also demanded the agency remove his information from their databases. He told the IRS he'd sue if they continued to contact him about his taxes.

He wrote that IRS agents had "violated the law by canvassing me outside your jurisdiction of the District of Columbia and exceeded the scope of your authority."

Granted, Gentile's angry letters clearly did not work as he'd hoped. Now he's facing charges. He might even face hefty tax penalties.

That's what happens when you don't pay your taxes. In fact, Gentile may even be getting off lightly. The IRS could also garnish wages and withhold state and federal tax refunds.

The IRS isn't in the business of prosecuting non-filers who made simple mistakes. The agency is more interested in prosecuting willful violators who clearly are being fraudulent.

Was Russell P. Gentile deliberately trying to defraud the government? Did he actually reside in heaven? It's now up to a court to decide. He could face up to six years in prison and $200,000 in fines if convicted, reports Florida Today.

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