Refusal to Pay Whole Income Levy Laid to “War” Spending
An increase of persons refusing to pay full income tax was announced
by Peacemakers, a pacifist
organization with offices at 2013 Fifth Avenue. The group reported that
twenty-five men and sixteen women had declared publicly that they would
refuse to pay the entire tax because they were “unwilling to contribute to
preparations for war.”
The organization added that some of the forty-one persons would pay no
portion of their tax, “since they maintain that the major activity of
the Federal Government at this time is war.” A.J. Muste, a Presbyterian
minister who is secretary of the organization, was opposed to both World Wars.
In the Court of Session on Lord
Cullen had under consideration the action by the Lord Advocate on behalf of
the Inland Revenue Commissioners against Janie Allan, residing at Greystone,
Prestwick, Ayrshire, for payment of £109, being the amount of supertax due by
her on her income under the Finance Act, .
The Pursuer maintained that the word “person” in the Finance Act included
females as well as males.
Miss Allan, who conducted her own case, contended that so long as women were
denied any voice in the expenditure of money derived from taxation they were
perfectly justified in refusing to pay taxes. She alluded to the recently
added injustice of being forced to contribute to the payment of Members of
Parliament with no voice in their election, no means of calling them to
account. If she was not a person within the meaning of the Franchise Act she
should not be considered a person within the meaning of the Finance Act.
Lord Cullen granted decree against the defender in terms of the conclusions
of the summons, with expenses. In his opinion, his Lordship said:— The
defender, Miss Allan, was, under the statutes relating to Income-tax,
assessed for supertax for , the sum payable under the assessment being £109
1s. The assessment was in
conformity with a return of her income made by the defender for the year in
question. The first plea in defence is to the effect that the defender is not
due the said tax; and the ground stated for it is that, as under the law
relating to the Parliamentary franchise, women are not persons entitled to
vote, they are not persons subjected to payment of Income-tax within the
meaning of the taxing statutes founded on. This plea is, in my opinion,
untenable, it being clear on a construction of these statutes that women are
not excluded from their scope. The second plea in defence is to the effect
that esto the statutes subject women to liability for Income-tax, they
are “unjust and oppressive,” in respect that women are not admitted to
exercise the Parliamentary franchise. This, however, can form no answer, in a
Court of Law, to an action brought to enforce the statutes according to their
[Mary Russell] The Duchess of Bedford has refused to pay property tax for
Prince’s Skating Rink, to protest against the way in which the question of
Woman Suffrage has been treated by the Government.
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