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Thread: Can you legally carry concealed to Church if your Church meets at a school on Sunday?

  1. #1
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    Can you legally carry concealed to Church if your Church meets at a school on Sunday?

    Washington State

    Our church meets Sunday mornings at a local high school. I have wondered if it is legal to carry concealed to the church service on Sunday when school is not in session.

    This question has been bothering me for quite sometime now. I have researched and researched but have found nothing online to definitively answer this question. The past Atty. Gen. has responded to a similar question about facilities being used exclusively for schools but it does not answer my question directly. You can find this letter here:

    http://www.atg.wa.gov/AGOOpinions/op...8#.VKt8doo75R5

    It seems to me the intent of this law is not to have firearms during school activities. One could interpret that if the church is using the school building then the school building at that time is not being used exclusively for schools.

    This is a tricky question. I hope there are some lawyers out there that can help shed light on it. I feel this might take another letter to the attorney general to help clarify the language of the code.

    Any insight or discussion is well appreciated.

  2. #2
    Regular Member Dave_pro2a's Avatar
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    A church within a public school.

    Seems, regressive.
    "I'm just a no-account screed-peddler" Dave Workman http://goo.gl/CNf6pB

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave_pro2a View Post
    A church within a public school.

    Seems, regressive.
    It some areas it is common for schools to rent their facilities out for community groups/events when not being used for school functions. School facilities are funded by taxpayer dollars and are not in actual use for quite a lot of time each day/year. It makes very good fiscal sense to get additional use from them rather than taxpayers building additional facilities like convention or community centers.

    So, whether it is the Boy Scouts, the CAP, the community theater, local choir, book club, or other local group, there is nothing at all amiss in renting out school buildings on a non-interfering basis. In my area, local political parties use schools for their caucus meetings, conventions, etc. Schools are also routinely used as polling places for local elections conducted by the city or county (which are distinct entities from the school districts in my State).

    What would be offensive (and a violation of the 1st amendment) is if all these groups had access to rent the facilities but churches were denied the same access.

    As for the original question, I can't help the OP with Washington State law. But my best understanding of the federal Gun Free School Zone law is that it is the building and grounds themselves that are off limits to guns (unless the person has a permit issued by the State in which the school is located and the State has made it legal to carry at schools with that permit. There is no distinction for whether school is in session or not.

    Charles

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    Regular Member OC for ME's Avatar
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    Check your state statutes closely. The specific language is critical. A MO citizen may carry concealed if prior school district, or the respective authorized school house official gives permission. In writing would be desired.

    RSMo 571.107.10 is the statute.
    "I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson.

    "Better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent suffer" - English jurist William Blackstone.
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    Campaign Veteran Right Wing Wacko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OC for ME View Post
    Check your state statutes closely. The specific language is critical. A MO citizen may carry concealed if prior school district, or the respective authorized school house official gives permission. In writing would be desired.

    RSMo 571.107.10 is the statute.

    First let me start with IANAL!~

    Lets look at the law

    (1) It is unlawful for a person to carry onto, or to possess on, public or private elementary or secondary school premises, school-provided transportation, or areas of facilities while being used exclusively by public or private schools:

    This lists the places you are not allowed to carry:

    1. Public or private elementary or secondary school premises
    2. School-provided transportation
    3. Areas of facilities while being used exclusively by public or private schools. for example if the school rents an arena for graduation ceremonies or a private soccer field for soccer games.

    Then later goes on to list some exceptions:

    (3) Subsection (1) of this section does not apply to:

    (a) Any student or employee of a private military academy when on the property of the academy;

    (b) Any person engaged in military, law enforcement, or school district security activities. However, a person who is not a commissioned law enforcement officer and who provides school security services under the direction of a school administrator may not possess a device listed in subsection (1)(f) of this section unless he or she has successfully completed training in the use of such devices that is equivalent to the training received by commissioned law enforcement officers;

    (c) Any person who is involved in a convention, showing, demonstration, lecture, or firearms safety course authorized by school authorities in which the firearms of collectors or instructors are handled or displayed;

    (d) Any person while the person is participating in a firearms or air gun competition approved by the school or school district;

    (e) Any person in possession of a pistol who has been issued a license under RCW 9.41.070, or is exempt from the licensing requirement by RCW 9.41.060, while picking up or dropping off a student;

    (f) Any nonstudent at least eighteen years of age legally in possession of a firearm or dangerous weapon that is secured within an attended vehicle or concealed from view within a locked unattended vehicle while conducting legitimate business at the school;

    (g) Any nonstudent at least eighteen years of age who is in lawful possession of an unloaded firearm, secured in a vehicle while conducting legitimate business at the school; or

    (h) Any law enforcement officer of the federal, state, or local government agency.


    I don't see any exception that would apply because the school facility is rented. It appears only F and G would apply, which allows you to leave the firearm locked in your vehicle (assuming you are also not a student).

    Note than they then add another section:

    (6) Except as provided in subsection (3)(b), (c), (f), and (h) of this section, firearms are not permitted in a public or private school building.
    Last edited by Right Wing Wacko; 01-06-2015 at 04:45 PM.

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    Trust me, I have read the law and it seams clear but I would argue that a president is set by the wording in addition to the AG's opinion. And that is, that the laws intent follows where the school activities and children are. A school building is simply a location, as is a stadium, as is a ball field, as is a park. If the latter locations are being used exclusively for school activity then the guns are off limits. As soon as everyone goes home and the school function stops, then firearms are allowed again. This is precedent that the intent of the law is for prohibiting firearms specifically around the students while being "used."

    I think a rather honest and fair interpretation would be the inverse in the actual school building itself.

    Now before some of you get too excited and start a verbal throw-down, I am speaking out of a curious thought and possible court interpretation of brought to trial.

    Would I do this? No way. Not worth risking loosing your CWP for 3 years.

    But judges often do rule according to intent and not actual verbatim.

    I would advise not to do it but it should be addressed with clear and better suited legislation.

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    Regular Member CitizenJohn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Templedh54 View Post
    The past Atty. Gen. has responded to a similar question about facilities being used exclusively for schools but it does not answer my question directly.
    I read the AG letter and it seems to me that it does directly address your question. It addresses the term "used exclusively [by]" as being the school and the "duration of exclusive use [by the school]" as not being limited by time.

    In other words, just because the school lets another entity use it's grounds or buildings, the AG letter indicates that the school doesn't vacate its original "exclusive use" status and the letter defers to the common dictionary for the word "exclusively."

    If I let someone use my yard to put up a "VOTE FOR" sign, I still have "exclusive use rights" (i.e., I can still exclude them), which I think is what the letter and the RCW is, in part, referring to.

    IANAL either (obviously)
    I carry a gun because I can't carry a cop.

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    Regular Member Dave_pro2a's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by utbagpiper View Post
    It some areas it is common for schools to rent their facilities out for community groups/events when not being used for school functions. School facilities are funded by taxpayer dollars and are not in actual use for quite a lot of time each day/year. It makes very good fiscal sense to get additional use from them rather than taxpayers building additional facilities like convention or community centers.

    So, whether it is the Boy Scouts, the CAP, the community theater, local choir, book club, or other local group, there is nothing at all amiss in renting out school buildings on a non-interfering basis. In my area, local political parties use schools for their caucus meetings, conventions, etc. Schools are also routinely used as polling places for local elections conducted by the city or county (which are distinct entities from the school districts in my State).

    What would be offensive (and a violation of the 1st amendment) is if all these groups had access to rent the facilities but churches were denied the same access.

    As for the original question, I can't help the OP with Washington State law. But my best understanding of the federal Gun Free School Zone law is that it is the building and grounds themselves that are off limits to guns (unless the person has a permit issued by the State in which the school is located and the State has made it legal to carry at schools with that permit. There is no distinction for whether school is in session or not.

    Charles
    Until someone goes to a unsecured church service and plants a bomb with a timer set to go off later in the week when school is in session.

    Weak security.
    "I'm just a no-account screed-peddler" Dave Workman http://goo.gl/CNf6pB

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    "The Bush Administration declared a permanent ban today on almost all foreign-made semiautomatic assault rifles." George Bush Sr, New York Times on July 8, 1989

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    Regular Member Dave_pro2a's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by utbagpiper View Post
    What would be offensive (and a violation of the 1st amendment) is if all these groups had access to rent the facilities but churches were denied the same access.
    BS. When Churches pay taxes, then they can be treated like everyone else.
    "I'm just a no-account screed-peddler" Dave Workman http://goo.gl/CNf6pB

    "We ought to extend the [1994] assault weapons ban" George W Bush

    "The Bush Administration declared a permanent ban today on almost all foreign-made semiautomatic assault rifles." George Bush Sr, New York Times on July 8, 1989

    "I support the Brady bill and I urge the Congress to enact it without delay." Ronald Regan.

    "Guns are an abomination." Richard Nixon

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave_pro2a View Post
    BS. When Churches pay taxes, then they can be treated like everyone else.

    So if I do not pay taxes for a year do I get treated differently that year or the next year?
    Throw me to the wolves and I will come back leading the pack.

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    Regular Member Dave_pro2a's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Hayes View Post
    So if I do not pay taxes for a year do I get treated differently that year or the next year?
    Usually yes. Ask Wesley Snipes.

    Last edited by Dave_pro2a; 01-07-2015 at 09:49 AM.
    "I'm just a no-account screed-peddler" Dave Workman http://goo.gl/CNf6pB

    "We ought to extend the [1994] assault weapons ban" George W Bush

    "The Bush Administration declared a permanent ban today on almost all foreign-made semiautomatic assault rifles." George Bush Sr, New York Times on July 8, 1989

    "I support the Brady bill and I urge the Congress to enact it without delay." Ronald Regan.

    "Guns are an abomination." Richard Nixon

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    Regular Member Stretch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave_pro2a View Post
    BS. When Churches pay taxes, then they can be treated like everyone else.
    The people have already paid taxes to build the school facility, plus an additional rental fee (tax) to use the unoccupied building.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave_pro2a View Post
    BS. When Churches pay taxes, then they can be treated like everyone else.
    Ah, the anti-religious bigots are out today.

    Most of the organizations I listed don't pay taxes. The Boy Scouts operate as a non-profit organization. Ditto for most community theaters, symphonies, and other community arts organizations. Most books clubs are not even organized as formal legal entities but are simply informal groups of individuals. Political parties don't generally pay taxes (even though donations to them are not tax deductible for the donors).

    Just as our much beloved 2nd amendment requires that the government provide some special respect for our ownership and possession of firearms and other defensive weapons, so too the 1st amendment requires that government provide some special consideration of our religiously motivated conduct and for religious organizations. Churches are allowed to operate as non-profit organizations (and most choose to do so) for the same reasons that secular non-profits get such status: because of the benefits they bring to society and because they don't actually turn a profit. There are a host of legal restrictions imposed on how non-profits operate and what they can do. Access to taxpayer funded facilities is not one of those restrictions.

    "Churches" (like community theaters, book clubs, and political parties) are nothing but collections of individuals. Those individuals tend to pay taxes, including the taxes that build schools, maintain public parks, etc. To refuse access to religious groups of individuals, while allowing access to individuals who are members of a book club, or individuals making up the community theater, etc is rank discrimination.

    And trying to hide behind tax status is no better veil over ugly bigotries than were "literacy tests" for voting.

    Congrats, here is your white sheet.

    Charles

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave_pro2a View Post
    Usually yes. Ask Wesley Snipes.
    Complete non-sequitor. Snipes was guilty of not paying taxes he legally owed.

    Are you suggesting that if your income drops below taxable levels this year, such that you don't legally owe any income taxes, you should be treated differently in terms of accessing government facilities than the guy down the street who paid income taxes?


    Charles

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    Campaign Veteran Right Wing Wacko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Templedh54 View Post
    Trust me, I have read the law and it seams clear but I would argue that a president is set by the wording in addition to the AG's opinion. And that is, that the laws intent follows where the school activities and children are. A school building is simply a location, as is a stadium, as is a ball field, as is a park. If the latter locations are being used exclusively for school activity then the guns are off limits. As soon as everyone goes home and the school function stops, then firearms are allowed again. This is precedent that the intent of the law is for prohibiting firearms specifically around the students while being "used."

    I think a rather honest and fair interpretation would be the inverse in the actual school building itself.

    Now before some of you get too excited and start a verbal throw-down, I am speaking out of a curious thought and possible court interpretation of brought to trial.

    Would I do this? No way. Not worth risking loosing your CWP for 3 years.

    But judges often do rule according to intent and not actual verbatim.

    I would advise not to do it but it should be addressed with clear and better suited legislation.
    Getting Back on Topic:

    Thats why I listed the THREE locations you are not allowed to carry according to the statute.

    1. Public or private elementary or secondary school premises
    2. School-provided transportation
    3. Areas of facilities while being used exclusively by public or private schools. for example if the school rents an arena for graduation ceremonies or a private soccer field for soccer games.


    Facilities used exclusively by schools is a separate item from school premises. I don't think a judge could see any ambiguity.
    Unfortunately in today's climate, not only would you end up losing your CWP, you are liable to end up dead. Not something I look forward to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave_pro2a View Post
    Until someone goes to a unsecured church service and plants a bomb with a timer set to go off later in the week when school is in session.

    Weak security.
    Really? As opposed to an "unsecured" book club meeting, political rally, to vote, or even to watch a play (whether put on by the school drama club, or by a community theater renting the school's auditorium)?

    If you were forced to clear a metal detector in order to vote you'd rightly scream to high heaven about your RKBA being violated. And we all know that all "security" at schools (and airports and most other locations) is so weak as to be laughable. We call it "security theater" for a reason.

    But you're going to use "security" (and taxes) as a reason to deny access to church groups?

    You'd look less foolish if you'd just own your bigotries and come right out and say you hate churches.

    Charles

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    Quote Originally Posted by Right Wing Wacko View Post
    Getting Back on Topic:

    Thats why I listed the THREE locations you are not allowed to carry according to the statute.

    1. Public or private elementary or secondary school premises
    2. School-provided transportation
    3. Areas of facilities while being used exclusively by public or private schools. for example if the school rents an arena for graduation ceremonies or a private soccer field for soccer games.


    Facilities used exclusively by schools is a separate item from school premises. I don't think a judge could see any ambiguity.
    Again, I'm no expert on Washington law. But having read the statute as posted, I have to agree completely with "Right Wing's" reading/interpretation of that law. Each line item in the law is a different and distinct location and as written, school premises are off-limits period, even when classes are out or school is not in session.

    I'm not saying some judge would never be "highly creative" in how he applies the law. But it would be a "bad" ruling (from the perspective of having judges applying laws as written, rather than re-writing the laws as they would like them to read) for any judge to apply this statute differently.

    Charles
    Last edited by utbagpiper; 01-07-2015 at 04:09 PM.

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    I went to a church that used a school auditorium for a few weeks. My reading of the law was that there is no exception for us; I did not carry even into the parking lot.

    This was when I first moved to Milton - since then we've been blessed to find a solid church, and it's in a normal church building (though that's not why we changed churches - the doctrine was kinda weak at the one in the school).

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    Quote Originally Posted by NavyLCDR View Post
    Guilty as charged. In 2013 I ended up with a negative net taxable income due to subtracting combat exclusion pay and alimony from my gross wages. In addition, I rent - so I pay "property taxes" to the landlord instead of to the state. I guess my daughter should not have been allowed to attend public school that year...
    Exactly. One would be hard pressed to find anyone who voluntarily pays more taxes than he is legally required to pay. Those with means will often spend a fair bit on accountants and lawyers (or even lobbyists) so as to legally minimize their tax liabilities. The "poor" are often exempted from various taxes: Income taxes have minimum levels of income before any tax payments are required, those on food stamps are not paying taxes on food purchases, in some States, items (including clothing) purchased from 2nd hand or thrift stores are not subject to sales tax, and it is sometimes possible for homeowners to get exemptions from property tax based on income levels, military service, disability, or similar conditions. Non-profits including charitable organizations are legally exempted from income taxes and may be exempt from other taxes depending on the jurisdiction.

    Almost nobody who gives it any real thought would actually suggest that someone be denied access to government facilities based on their tax liability. My experience is that with the rarest of exceptions, those who claim that churches should be denied access based on non-payment of taxes they are not legally required to pay (or who otherwise objects much to churches having tax exempt status while remaining silent on secular charities), is simply trying to put a veneer of reason on top of his personal bigotries.

    I respect everone's right to feel whatever way the want about churches and religion. Ditto for whether they want to harbor unkind feelings toward believers, or those of various races, etc. I do my best to avoid bringing up religion or other potentially divisive topics on RKBA boards. But if someone is so impolite as to express anti-religious (or racial) bigotries on these boards, I will call them on it lest their comments create a hostile environment for more polite gun owners or give the gun grabbers ammunition to paint gun owners as small minded bigots.

    Having done that, I hope Dave_pro2a will just let this side topic drop and the thread get back on topic.

    Charles

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    Quote Originally Posted by utbagpiper View Post
    Exactly. One would be hard pressed to find anyone who voluntarily pays more taxes than he is legally required to pay.
    I would argue the exact OPPOSITE.

    I believe there are an inordinate amount of idiots who are completely ignorant of their witholding status, and are unknowingly (therefore, willingly) letting the government use their money to make money rather than using it to do so, themselves. Hence: Using indirect reasoning, by voluntarily witholding more than they have to, they are "willingly paying more taxes than they have to".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Superlite27 View Post
    I would argue the exact OPPOSITE.

    I believe there are an inordinate amount of idiots who are completely ignorant of their witholding status, and are unknowingly (therefore, willingly) letting the government use their money to make money rather than using it to do so, themselves. Hence: Using indirect reasoning, by voluntarily witholding more than they have to, they are "willingly paying more taxes than they have to".
    There are many who seem to like getting a big refund every April or May, no doubt. And to not only give the feds an interest free loan, but to also rely on their good graces and ability (think government shutdown) to return your money, or to give them an easy way to impose Obamacare fines they may not be able to otherwise collect, is foolish. But that is slightly different than voluntarily paying more taxes than legally required. Most everyone wants to get the biggest refund (ie, minimize the taxes they actually end up paying to--as opposed to merely lending--the government) they can once it is time to file.

    But I do see your point. It is, however, somewhat orthogonal to the already off topic discussion about whether churches should pay taxes.

    Charles

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    Many people misunderstand RCW 9.41.280, which states, in part:

    (1) It is unlawful for a person to carry (a firearm) onto, or to possess (a firearm) on, public or private elementary or secondary school premises, school-provided transportation, or areas of facilities while being used exclusively by public or private schools...
    So, let's parse it and see how a court is likely to interpret it. Broken down, the statute basically says:

    It is unlawful for a person to carry a firearm onto, or possess a firearm on
    a) public or private elementary or secondary school premises,
    b) school-provided transportation,
    or
    c) areas of facilities while being used exclusively by public or private schools

    The crucial part of the statute is the use of the word, "or" just before "areas of facilities." A disjunctive phrase is generally expressed by mutually exclusive alternatives joined by the word "or." This means that, in a list, several alternatives are offered for consideration, separated by commas. When the final item of consideration is preceded by "or," the previous use of commas in the list implies the word "or." As such, the list is more properly interpreted as the following:

    It is unlawful for a person to carry a firearm onto, or possess a firearm on
    a) public or private elementary or secondary school premises,
    or
    b) school-provided transportation,
    or
    c) areas of facilities while being used exclusively by public or private schools

    Therefore since each alternative item is presumed to be in the disjunctive, the phrase "while being used exclusively by public or private schools" applies only to the alternative "areas of facilities" and not to the prior two alternatives. The common misconception is that in scenarios such as this, people interpret "or" to mean the same as "and." It does not, unless the terms "or" and "and" are defined in a statute to mean the same thing. This is not the case in RCW 9.41.

    An argument that the phrase "while being used exclusively by public or private schools" applies to school premises or school-provided transportation might enjoy some strength (although, it is not likely) would be only if the phrase were separated from the "areas of facilities" alternative by a comma, thereby setting the "while" clause out as a disjunctive prepositional phrase. However, no such punctuation exists in the statute.

    The statute unambiguously states that firearms are not permitted on school premises except as otherwise expressly provided in RCW 9.41.280(3). Of particular note, while RCW 9.41.280(3)(e) expressly states that CPL holders are exempted from the possession prohibition on school property while picking up or dropping off a student, it doesn't require is that the pistol be concealed.
    Rev. Robert Apgood, Esq.

    A right cannot be lost by exercising it. McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U.S. 3025, 130 S. Ct. 3020, 3021, 177 L. Ed. 2d 894 (2010) (citing Near v. Minn., 283 U.S. 697 (1931)).

    Although IAAL, anything I say here is not legal advice. No conversations we may have privately or otherwise in this forum constitute the formation of an attorney-client relationship, and are not intended to do so.

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    Regular Member rapgood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by utbagpiper View Post
    Exactly. One would be hard pressed to find anyone who voluntarily pays more taxes than he is legally required to pay.
    I estimate my taxes and make deposits based upon my estimation. For 2013, I overestimated and deposited too much! The IRS, of course, assessed a fine against me before refunding because I gave them too much money in anticipation of my tax debt. Don't pay enough? Get fined! Pay too much! Get fined. You can't win this game, folks. All you can do is play!
    Rev. Robert Apgood, Esq.

    A right cannot be lost by exercising it. McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U.S. 3025, 130 S. Ct. 3020, 3021, 177 L. Ed. 2d 894 (2010) (citing Near v. Minn., 283 U.S. 697 (1931)).

    Although IAAL, anything I say here is not legal advice. No conversations we may have privately or otherwise in this forum constitute the formation of an attorney-client relationship, and are not intended to do so.

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    Regular Member sudden valley gunner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rapgood View Post
    I estimate my taxes and make deposits based upon my estimation. For 2013, I overestimated and deposited too much! The IRS, of course, assessed a fine against me before refunding because I gave them too much money in anticipation of my tax debt. Don't pay enough? Get fined! Pay too much! Get fined. You can't win this game, folks. All you can do is play!
    +1 I made a killing one year and very little the next......they assumed I made the same.....bastards!
    I am not anti Cop I am just pro Citizen.

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    of their respect for what only appears to be a law, are cunningly coerced into waiving their
    rights, due to ignorance." (Paraphrased)

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    Regular Member amlevin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rapgood View Post
    I estimate my taxes and make deposits based upon my estimation. For 2013, I overestimated and deposited too much! The IRS, of course, assessed a fine against me before refunding because I gave them too much money in anticipation of my tax debt. Don't pay enough? Get fined! Pay too much! Get fined. You can't win this game, folks. All you can do is play!
    Very strange. My wife and I always "overpay" due to some of our income producing activities. Get rather large refunds every year as a result.

    In 10 years we have yet to be fined for "over paying". You just have to make the estimated payments on a regular basis as they will fine you if you just pay them all at once at the end of the year.
    "If I shoot all the ammo I am carrying I either won't need anymore or more won't help"

    "If you refuse to stand up for others now, who will stand up for you when your time comes?"

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