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Biblical defence fails to save taxpayer from $4.3m tax debt

A taxpayer, who quoted biblical references in an attempt to avoid tax debts, has been forced by the courts to repay $4.3 million.

Tax&Compliance Jotham Lian 19 February 2019
— 1 minute read

The NSW Supreme Court has ordered John Lamont to pay $4.3 million to the Tax Office, comprising of primary tax, the Medicare levy, administrative penalties for tax shortfall, shortfall interest charge, penalty for a non-lodgment of a return, and general interest charge.


The debts arose during the financial years of 2002 to 2013.

Mr Lamont, who was self-represented in the proceedings at all times, provided a five page written submission to the court which included biblical references in support of a proposition that the income tax legislation of the Commonwealth of Australia was ineffective because the relevant acts did not “refer to or define a man or a woman and hence, Parliament did not pass statutes that apply to a man nor a woman”.

The submission also cited a 1796 decision of the Supreme Court of North Carolina to support an argument that the defendant is not bound by any laws or institutions except those to which he gives his consent.

“I no longer consent to the statutes in par 7 above apply to me, the living man,” Mr Lamont’s submission wrote.

Mr Lamont’s submission also included statements that he did not consent to “doing business with the plaintiff” or with the plaintiff’s legal representative and did not “consent to these proceedings”.

Justice Des Fagan said the defence was “frivolous and insubstantial” and dismissed them from consideration, ordering Mr Lamont to repay the tax debts and the ATO’s costs of the proceedings.

“In any event, the submissions are incoherent and I have been unable to divine from them anything meaningful,” said Justice Fagan in his judgment.

“The defendant is not legally trained. In all of his oral and written submissions in this case he has deployed legal terminology with no apparent understanding of the underlying concepts.”

Earlier this month, a taxpayer from North Bendigo told the Bendigo Magistrates Court that he rejected having to lodge an income tax return because he was “a human being who waives my right to recognition as a person”. He was fined $6,000 and ordered to lodge his outstanding tax returns.

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Biblical defence fails to save taxpayer from $4.3m tax debt
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Jotham Lian

Jotham Lian

Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.

Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.

You can email Jotham at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.