Here’s a bit of a rarity: a conscientious war tax resister in Australia in , from The Melbourne Age :
Refused to Pay Tax on Moral Ground
“The Commonwealth has no moral right to levy taxes for war purposes, and therefore no legal right,” a tax offender claimed in the City Court .
The man, Ian Henry Leys, grazier’s laborer, of Burnbank, via Talbot, was being prosecuted for failure to furnish a tax return.
Leys told the court he was a Presbyterian. He said he had asked several people in authority if Australia was a Christian country — “as we are so often told it is.”
Cross-examined by the prosecutor (Mr. W.J. Smythe), Leys admitted he had written to the Prime Minister’s department saying he did not intend paying tax until certain questions were answered.
Fine or Gaol
Mr. Smythe said he had been instructed to ask for substantial penalties, as the department had gone to the considerable trouble of sending an officer to a country district to explain the matter to Leys.
Mr. A.J. O’Connor, S.M.: “I don’t know whether there is any legal or constitutional basis for this opposition. I am concerned here only with the law.
“No serious thought can be given to what Mr. Leys has said here today.”
He ordered Leys to pay a £5 fine or be imprisoned until it was paid, and ordered him to lodge a return within 14 days.
I had a hard time finding out much more about Ian Henry Leys, but then I went to a specifically-Australian newspaper archive and searched on “Ian H. Leys” and found a bit more.
- The Melbourne Argus noted the birth of an Ian Henry Leys to Mr. and Mrs. Arch Leys at Norwood hospital in Hallarat on .
- “Ian H. Leys” wrote a number of brief letters-to-the-editor of the Argus,
- the earliest of them proposes that Austrialian communists be given the option of being imprisoned indefinitely as subversives or of expulsion to the Soviet Union
- suggesting that Australian pacifists send a mission to the Soviet Union
- promoting free trade with Japan after the war (and free trade in general)
- decrying the expansion of the government
- opposing legislators casting secret ballots
- pointing out government coverups
- counseling a laissez faire approach to the butter/margarine price war
- pointing out that U.S. ocean-based H-bomb testing was contaminating everybody’s ocean
- wondering why if there is such broad democratic backing for Australia’s SEATO participation, the government is forced to resort to conscription
- defending a tax on the unimproved value of land (aha! a Georgist! — there’s also a mention of his name in a issue of the Georgist journal Land & Liberty)
- The on-line archives give out in , and Leys’s letters go right up to that boundary, so there were likely more.
- The Victoria Government Gazette of noted that Ian Henry Leys was the executor of the estate of Henrietta Leys, who died the previous year.