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United States v. Lee

United States Supreme Court
455 U.S. 252 (1982)


Lee was a member of the Old Order Amish and worked as a farmer and carpenter. Between 1970 and 1977, Lee employed several Amish workers but did not pay social-security taxes for any of his employees, as social security was against the Amish religion. Under federal law, all employers were required to pay social-security taxes for their employees. However, 26 U.S.C. § 1402(g) created a narrow exception, allowing self-employed Amish persons to withhold social-security payments. In 1978, the Internal Revenue Service charged Lee for over $27,000 in unpaid taxes. Lee refused to pay and sued the United States (defendant), arguing that the government was required to exempt Lee’s payment of social-security taxes because of his religious beliefs. The district court held in favor of Lee, finding the statute unconstitutional. The United States appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Burger, C.J.)

Concurrence (Stevens, J.)

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