Christian-Owned Tax Service in Indiana Refuses to File Lesbian Couple’s Joint Tax Return

Bailey and Samantha Brazzel. Bailey Brazzel said the tax service had prepared her taxes for four years, but this was the first time the couple was filing a joint tax return. Provided by Bailey Brazzel

Bailey Brazzel and her wife Samantha weren’t trying to make a political statement last week. They were just trying to file their taxes.

But when the owner of an Indiana tax service refused to help because the same-sex couple was married, Brazzel said she felt she had to make some noise.

“I went in there to have my taxes done, not push my beliefs on her,” said Brazzel, 25. “It’s not professional to me to turn someone away because they do something differently than you would like.”

Nancy Fivecoate, owner of Carter Tax Service in Russiaville, Indiana, said she’s been harassed and abused after Brazzel spoke to media and posted on Facebook about her experience. Fivecoate said she is the one being persecuted for her beliefs.

“I’ve never repeated her name to anyone … I haven’t answered social media,” said Fivecoate during a phone conversation. “I’ve done absolutely nothing except (follow) my religious beliefs. I cannot put my name on that return.”

This is the latest skirmish in a culture war ignited by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. There have been controversies involving cake bakers, pizza-makers and now a tax preparer who have refused to serve same-sex couples based on the religious beliefs of business owners and employees.

That’s allowed under state law, unless a local ordinance says otherwise.

Brazzel said Fivecoate has prepared her taxes for the last four years. She and Samantha married in July. This is the first year they filed a joint tax return.

They went to Fivecoate’s office Tuesday and she turned them away.

“My taxes don’t have anything to do with our marriage,” Brazzel said. “If you are going to run a business, you should be professional enough to do business with people from all types of backgrounds.”

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SOURCE: USA Today, Vic Ryckaert