Tax Resister Vivien Kellems

More Vivien Kellems, this time from the Evening Independent:

Action Is Asked Against Delinquent War Industrialist

Representative [John Main] Coffee (W.[sic]-Wash.) called for immediate action by the department of justice against Miss Vivien Kellems, Westport, Conn., war industrialist, who announced she had refused to pay her income tax and urged other business people to follow her example.

“I am asking the department of justice,” Coffee said in a statement, “to file summary action against Vivien Kellems for her statements calculated to do injury to the nation’s war program and discourage the purchase of War bonds right at the inception of the Fourth War Loan drive. Her statement constitutes a violation of the law.”

Miss Kellems, speaking before a luncheon meeting in Kansas City yesterday, called upon “all business, both big and small, to follow my example and put aside postwar reserves out of their taxes.”

She asserted that present tax rates violate the constitution and amount to “unreasonable seizure.”

And here is the treasury secretary’s response, from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Tax Evasion “Disloyal,” Morgenthau Charges

Treasury Secretary Sidesteps Direct Reference to Woman’s Anti-Levy Speech

Secretary Morgenthau, taking note of a woman industralist’s call for business to follow her example in putting aside post-war reserves out of tax money, said tonight that “to advise citizens to refuse to pay taxes — particularly in time of war — smacks of disloyalty.”

“Such an attempt,” the treasury head added, “is especially unworthy of persons profiting from war contracts.”

Morgenthau made no direct reference to Miss Vivien Kellems of Westport, Conn., or her address to a civic group in Kansas City yesterday in which she said she had not paid her income tax installment and urged that others in business follow her example. She asserted present tax rates are unconstitutional and confiscatory.

Earlier, the internal revenue bureau served notice that it is going to collect the income taxes from Miss Kellems, while Representative Coffee, Democrat, Washington, advocated justice department proceedings against her.

Anti-Tax Advocate Promises Answer

Bewildered by the furor caused by her speech advocating a post-war reserve “out of taxes” delivered in Kansas City, Miss Vivien Kellems, tonight asserted that Secretary Morgenthau’s charges were “too serious” to answer at once but declared she would answer them, “and in full.”

“Why, he’s practically accusing me of treason.”

She said she was advocating the use of money normally paid into income taxes for a post-war reserve, but she said the reserves should be “put into war bonds.”

Hard to know what Kellems’s game was. She never saw a tax she didn’t want to rebel against, but on the other hand she made her fortune on government contracts and, as that last example showed, could even advocate more voluntary funding of big government programs.


And here’s a little-mentioned also-ran in the history of tax resistance, from the New York Times:

Dutch Islands Balk at Tax

Doctor Who Refuses to Pay Becomes Hero in West Indies.

Collection by the local government of an extraordinary income tax, from which natives of Holland who arrived here are exempt, is causing much dissatisfaction here. Citizens contend the tax law had been incorrectly interpreted.

The household effects of a physician who refused to pay the tax were offered for sale at auction by the Government. Although the building in which the sale was held was crowded, there were no bids and the articles were not sold.

A cheering crowd carried the physician about shoulder high. Merchants, as a token of their approval of the doctor’s refusal to pay the tax, closed their places of business during the afternoon.

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