War tax resister Frank Donnelly was sentenced to a year in prison for tax evasion. Federal District Court Judge John Woodcock was unimpressed by Donnelly’s stand, in part, he said, because Donnelly didn’t go public with his resistance and didn’t notify the IRS of his protest. By doing his protest stealthily (quietly not reporting much of his income on his tax returns), he seemed to Woodcock like just another tax evader.
Donnelly rejected the characterization. “I’m a war tax resister… not a tax cheat. You got to stand up for your beliefs… and so I’m going to jail for my beliefs."
I’m actually surprised Woodcock went to the trouble of making such a distinction. Usually, the government’s position is that even if a resister is public with his or her protest, announces it to the feds, and so forth, it’s still just tax evasion and is no more justified than any other sort. Those sorts of distinctions are usually just tactical concerns within the war tax resistance movement. My guess is that what it amounts to is that judges love to pontificate, and sentencing people is much more fun if you can browbeat them too, so judges grab at whatever straws they can find. Criminal prosecutions of war tax resisters are so rare that it’s hard to draw any conclusions, though.
The prosecution had sought an 18–24 month sentence. Donnelly is also required to pay the back taxes, penalties, and interest.