Interesting case, this Begay v. Commissioner.
The court rejects Religious Freedom Restoration Act and Equal Protection claims, holding that a Navajo elder’s care of a nephew is insufficient to confer the required status for deductions under the Internal Revenue Code.
Here is the argument:
Although petitioner concedes that TD is not her qualifying child under section 152(c)(2), she argues that the exclusion from the section 152(c)(2) relationships of certain obligatory clan-based relationships in Navajo culture violates her constitutional rights under both the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution and the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution. According to petitioner, in Navajo culture and tradition children are not only children of the parents; they are also children of the clan. Petitioner submits that a Navajo clan consists of the first clans of the child’s mother, father, maternal grandfather, and paternal grandfather and that the clan relationship may extend beyond the foregoing if, for example, the child is adopted.