War Tax Resisters Francis B. & Valerie Riggs

Won’t Pay “War” Tax: [Cambridge, Mass., March 1] — Mr. and Mrs. Francis B. Riggs go over their federal income tax statement after announcing that for the eighth successive year they would refuse to pay that part of tax they estimate would go for “war.” This year they are refusing to pay 94.2 per cent of their tax. Riggs, 69, a retired school headmaster, says their stand is the “older peoples” equivalent of that taken by young men who go to conscientious objectors’ camps rather than fight. Each year the Riggs have eventually paid up their taxes, plus penalties. — AP Wirephoto.

The Miami News

I didn’t find much else about the Riggses in on-line newspaper archives, but one other article, from , reads:

Tax Collector Wins, But Refusal Registers War Tax Protest

The tax collectors always catch up with Mrs. Francis R. Riggs — by her own admissions — but she feels she scores a point.

The Cambridge woman was one of nearly a score of persons who participated in a public protest against use of tax funds for military purposes.

She told reporters that for seven years she had deducted from her federal income tax that proportion she believes is being spent to prepare for war.

This year, she said, she and her husband are withholding 39.3 per cent of their tax.

“They catch up with me in the end and charge me six per cent,” Mrs. Riggs said, “but I am convinced that public protest is morally right and necessary.”

The group, led by the Rev. Wolcott Cutler of St. John’s Protestant Episcopal Church, Charlestown, carried posters reading “I refuse war taxes” and “H-bombs return to burn.”

The posters said members of the group represented the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the War Resisters’ League and the Peacemakers.

They walked for an hour on Tremont Street between Park and Boylston Streets. The protest was timed to interest workers hurrying home at

The MIT Tech ran this editorial in their edition:

The Saga of Valerie: The Tech receives all sorts of mail — bills, checks, Clipsheets from the Board of Temperance. But in garnering material for this article, I was handed a letter with the scribbled commentary, “required reading.” It is from one Valerie Riggs, who says that she has refused to pay income taxes and is refusing again this year because, to put it simply, she doesn’t like the way the government is spending it. She says that “…those in our government who are deciding our fate for us … are consulting the cleverest minds in science to concoct the most diabolical schemes for killing innocent men, women, and children…” This is probably accurate enough to make the boys in Ballistics run their fingers around the insides of their collars, but Valerie has found the solution, fellows! Just refuse to pay your taxes, and the world situation is solved! Let’s all Laissez-faire with a big bang!

We appreciate the thought, but someone, whose initials are V.R., is being awfully idealistic. There is even an organization known as the Peacemakers whose members are doing the same as Valerie. So if any of you want to do away with your taxes, we can give you the address of these people and you too can refuse to pay. There’s only one catch — it’s illegal.

And this is from the Rome News-Tribune:

Pacifist Couple Refuses To Pay War Tax Funds

A Quaker pacifist couple have mailed their income tax returns to the Bureau of Internal Revenue, minus 72.6 per cent of the tax due, which they figure is the amount the government would spend on war.

Francis Behn Riggs, 70, retired boys’ school headmaster, and his wife, Valerie, 67, said they expect the bureau to seize the missing funds from their savings accounts. “as it has been doing .”

But, Mrs. Riggs added, “There is a difference between handing the government our income tax for the military and the government taking it from us.”

Along with the returns, Mrs. Riggs sent a note saying: “My conscience tells me that the killing of human beings is a criminal act, and that paying for that killing is likewise criminal. This conviction is based on religious belief.”

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