Thomas Condon Calls on Ireland to Refuse Taxes

On , Thomas Condon, an Irish member of parliament, gave a speech in Mitchelstown advocating tax resistance. This was in the wake of the “Mitchelstown Massacre” in which police fired on a meeting of the Irish Land League, which had been organizing rent strikes (a variety of tax resistance also) against absentee English landlords. He was subsequently arrested and imprisoned for one month for inciting tax resistance. Here’s what got him in trouble:

You have heard from Mr. O’Brien and Mr. Healy that a tax of £1,000 is being levied off the barony for his unconstitutional conduct in being the first to lead the baton party that broke through your meeting on . I hope the men of the barony of Condons and Clongibbons will do in the future as they have done in the past — namely, organize themselves to make the collection of that tax as difficult and expensive for these landlords and for the taxgatherers. All this may be illegal. I do not know whether it is or not, and, furthermore, do not care. It is quite possible that you will have policemen out in a day or two, but I will ask you to feed yourselves and your families before you part with this money for Constable Leahy. It is one of the most infamous acts that was over perpetrated by a Grand Jury. It was not out of love for Leahy, but it was poor revenge for the triumph that you had over them and their class on the Kingston property; not that one shilling will come out of their own pockets. If you contrast their action in the Grand Jury room in Cork with their action in the country you can see the motive that actuates the Grand Jury of the County of Cork in levying this infamous tax. I hope that you will send back a message to the Grand Jury of Cork that by the time this tax is collected it will cost them ten times more than the original tax levied. I have not the slightest doubt but that you will make the collection of this tax impossible, and that before a few months they will have reason to remember it. This is no time to be mealy-mouthed in speaking on these subjects.

Edward Gibson, the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, explained:

It was an offence so obvious and so patent that the laws of no country could exist if words recommending that taxes and rates should not be paid were allowed to pass without notice, and if such language was not to be punishable the laws of no country would be able to keep civil society together. The advice of Mr. Condon had, unfortunately, been taken, and efforts were being made to make the collection of that tax, as Mr. Condon had advised, as difficult as possible. He would not refer to that matter further than to say that if noble Lords looked at the Irish Press they would at once see that the advice was being acted on. Placards had been posted within the last few days actually quoting portions of the speech just read, showing the danger of using such language and the necessity of bringing those persons who employed it to the test of legal examination before properly constituted tribunals like those which existed in the present case.

From the edition of The Village Voice:

Your Tax Dollars At Work in Vietnam: It takes men [and] money to run a war. Thousands of young men are refusing to participate in war because it outrages their deepest moral feelings. Thousands of other Americans are standing in solidarity with them by refusing, because of conscientious conviction, to pay all or part of their federal taxes. War tax resistance is one more obstacle to Pentagon and military-corporation control of our society. It is another way of saying that you utterly reject squandering of our resources on mass violence and the machinery of death; that you condemn government neglect of programs to give adequate medical care, education and housing, combat pollution, and guarantee every family an adequate income. There are many ways of resisting federal war taxes. Some people refuse their federal excise telephone tax. Others don’t pay the balance due, on income taxes.

And, from the edition of The Spartanburg Herald:

Couple Refused To Support War

Paul Snyder and his wife, Addie, saw their home sold for the taxes they refused to pay to support the wars they opposed.

But the property — sold at an Internal Revenue Service bid opening at the Fremont Post Office — went to a friend and the Snyders said they will buy it back.

The purchaser was identified as Carol Blizzard of Holton in adjoining Muskegon County. The high bid was $8,460.

However, the IRS said the Snyders actually owe only $3,023 for taxes they withheld .

IRS officials refused to say how high they set a minimum bid in conducting the sale and that prompted the 41-year-old Mrs. Snyder’s only public outcry. “Oh, that’s not fair!” she shouted.

The Snyders, surrounded by about 100 supporters and newsmen, said afterward that they believe their protest was worthwhile.

“We have not given up. They had to extract it from us,” said Snyder, 42, a veterinarian.

The Snyders withheld the portion of their taxes they believed went to the Defense Department based upon that agency’s share of the national budget. Snyder said the total amounted to about 45 per cent of their taxes.

And he said they will continue their protest and refuse to pay taxes they believe are used for wars. In fact, they have not paid that portion of their taxes, he said.

Mrs. Snyder said that Cambodian invasion was responsible for turning a “pair of hard-working Republicans” into war protesters and tax evaders.

“We had tried to ignore the war up to that time,” she said.

Instead, they used the money for alternative purposes — “spent mostly in Newaygo County on rural poverty projects” — because “we believe in paying taxes.”

Another report adds: “An IRS spokesman in Grand Rapids refused to disclose the amount of the losing bids. Other sources, however, said many bids of $1 or less were made. The New York City War Tax Resistance group said “a couple hundred bids of a minimal amount were made.”

This, according to an earlier article in The Argus-Press, was a tactic modeled on foreclosure auction disruption tactics during the Great Depression:

Members of the Newaygo County Citizens for Peace took an ad in today’s editions of the weekly Fremont Times Indicator urging those who oppose wars to bid for the property of Paul Snyder…

Listing a variety of reasons for supporting the Snyders, the peace group’s ad urged county residents, “If you agree with us… please make a bid on their (the Snyder’s) property.”

Making a bid of pennies for farm property being forclosed for failure to meet mortgages was a common tactic among angry farmers during the Depression. If their bids succeeded, the property was returned to its owner and the mortgage torn up.

In some such cases, entire farms plus their livestock, equipment and home furnishings sold for as little as $2.