WASHINGTON – The United States has asked a federal court to permanently bar a Utah man from promoting an alleged false church-based tax fraud scheme, the Justice Department announced today. The civil injunction suit against Kevin Hartshorn was filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah, in Salt Lake City.
According to the government complaint, Hartshorn works as a "senior minister" for an organization called the "Church of Compassionate Service." The suit alleges that Hartshorn falsely promises members of the organization that they can legally reduce or eliminate their federal income taxes, avoid filing federal income tax returns, and put their income and assets beyond the reach of the Internal Revenue Service by becoming "ministers" in the Church of Compassionate Service.
The government complaint alleges that the Church of Compassionate Service claims its members are "ministers" who are required to take a vow of poverty, which supposedly eliminates their taxable income. The suit alleges the purported vows of poverty are false and the members continue to have access to their income notwithstanding the purported vow.
Since 2001, the Justice Department’s Tax Division has obtained more than 470 injunctions to stop the promotion of tax fraud schemes and the preparation of fraudulent returns. Information about these cases is available on the Justice Department web site.