Tax Resistance in the American Catholic Press, 1975

Today, some excerpts from The Catholic News Archive concerning tax resistance in

The Catholic Worker gave an update on the case the IRS was pursuing against Gano Peacemakers, The Peacemaker magazine, the Peacemakers organization, and Ernest and Marion Bromley:

Bromleys Resist IRS

By Peggy Scherer

On , two agents of the Internal Revenue Service posted a notice of seizure on the house occupied by Marion and Ernest Bromley, two long time pacifists and advocates of refusal to pay war taxes. The house, located near Cincinnati, Ohio, was seized to pay $24,671.31 the IRS claims is owed them. This claim is a false one, however, even by IRS rules.

The claim is based on banking records of The Peacemaker, the newsletter of the nationwide Peacemaker movement. Records seized were for . All money sent to The Peacemaker was spent on printing and mailing out the paper, financing of a few projects, and for the Peacemaker Sharing Fund. The Sharing Fund is used to support families of imprisoned war resisters. Part of the assessment is based on Ernest Bromley’s being an employee, and therefore owing income tax. Checks were made out to Ernest to obtain cash for postage, but he never received payment for work he did. All work on The Peacemaker was and is done without compensation.

The first notices, which began coming in , claimed that the families who had received money from the Sharing Fund were also employees. This claim was dropped after the IRS received letters from those families denying this charge. Numerous letters were also sent disclaiming that The Peacemaker owed money for income tax and social security for any employees. In spite of this, the IRS has not dropped the largest part of its claim. To compound the injustice, they are making their collection by taking property which does not belong to The Peacemaker, which has no holdings, and no longer has a bank account.

The property being seized is owned by Gano Peacemakers, Inc., a small nonprofit corporation formed in , when Marion and Ernest moved to the community of Gano. There, they and a few others formed a small pacifist community. In , when Ernest became the editor of The Peacemaker, the paper was given office space in the house, and it stayed there . All finances of the two groups were separate.

Internal Revenue Service made its audit of The Peacemaker records during the period when the IRS’ “Special Services Staff” (SSS) investigated some 3000 groups and 8000 individuals who were antiwar activists. These investigations were kept secret until , but recently it has been discovered how a coordinated, government-wide effort was undertaken against antiwar activists and protest groups. The SSS collected information from the Justice Department, the FBI, Army and Air Force Intelligence units, and the Secret Service. Since it is doubtful that an audit of The Peacemaker banking records could legitimately be made for tax gathering purposes, it appears the search was for political motives.

The Bromleys follow the policy of noncooperation with the efforts of government agencies to gather information. They are pacifists, and deplore the huge amounts of money spent on war and preparation for war. They will not contest the case in court, but rely on personal witness and informing people of the facts. Efforts are being made by them and many others to publicize the seizure. Leaflets are being handed out each day at the IRS office in Cincinnati to inform potential buyers of the fraudulence of the seizure. Anyone interested in demanding this injustice be stopped should write or telegraph the District Director, IRS, Federal Office Building, Cincinnati, Ohio. Inform local IRS offices and the media, as well as other individuals.

This seizure is only part of the larger injustice which IRS finances. At present, as for the past number of years, the major percentage of the U.S. budget is spent for “defense” purposes. This country still provides the main support for the oppressive governments in South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. We supply war materials to countries around the world. The products of our labor should be directed for the good of all into positive, life-building works, not in support of war and preparation for war. Often the argument is raised, “Render unto Caesar…” Yet to contribute willingly to the death and oppression of our fellow humans is not to follow the teachings of Christ. When a government misuses power, then we must withdraw our support in every possible way, building with our own lives a just and equitable society. In our world of many people and limited resources, our energy is needed to concentrate on providing food, shelter, clothing and a caring atmosphere for our fellow creatures.

This is the time of year when IRS concentrates on collecting monies used mainly for destruction. To retain control of our own lives, to curtail the massive war-oriented economies of the United States and other nations, we must make personal witness and say no to paying war taxes. Without financial support, the government could not carry on as it is. Such refusal can lead to prison and harassment by the government. Yet if many of us would refuse, and even fill the prisons, there would be no money to support their work. Though it may be difficult, the reward of acting conscientiously, of asserting our freedom to support only what is right, is great.

For information about others who have refused to pay taxes for war, contact The Peacemaker, 1255 Paddock Hills Ave., Cincinnati, Ohio 45229, or War Tax Resistance or War Resisters League, both at 339 Lafayette St., N.Y., N.Y. 10012.

By Marion Bromley

In discussing the IRS seizure of the property here in Gano, a young office worker commented to others, “I don’t see why they are just bringing this up now. If they had gone to the IRS right in the beginning, they would have straightened it out.”

The more we become involved in analyzing the way IRS proceeded against Peacemakers, the more we want to strip the IRS of this phony facade of beneficent rectitude.

Many people have advised us to fight it in the courts, and that seems to indicate a confidence in the legal system which we do not share. That system provides protection for the state and protects the property of those who can wield power in that arena. We have no interest in asking one branch of the powerful warmaking state to protect us against the improper activities of another branch.

If IRS is not obliged by public clamor to remove the lien against the property, they will sell it and collect $25,000 (which is not taxes “owed” by anyone) — and that would be a defeat of sorts. But if that happens, after we have done everything we can to prevent it, we hope we can go away from here as whole people and continue our adventures elsewhere. We would be truly defeated if any friends attempted to pay the IRS anything to regain title to the property.

We have had the support of a small but active local group. A vigil has continued daily at the federal building in Cincinnati. We know people responded to the Peacemaker mailing suggesting letters to IRS officials, and there have been small support vigils in other places. We do not want to exaggerate the nature of the IRS attack on Peacemakers and on us as tax refusers. The bulletins of Amnesty International detail every month the horrible oppression of dissenters in many places. Many of these cruel regimes are maintained in power by U.S. money and open or covert military, police and financial assistance.

Our energies now are directed to exposing the arrogant power methods the IRS revealed in dealing with Peacemakers, and in urging the people who learn of this to take some responsibility for their own support of the government which seems to be permanently locking the people into a war system.

Just in the matter of the continuing war in Southeast Asia, we learned through a UPI story, published in Cincinnati on , of Bird and Sons Cos. of Oakland, Cal., which is getting five more C130 planes from the Pentagon to increase the supply flights from Thailand to Cambodia. Owner William Bind told a newsman that the Air Force is using Bird Air “to get around the congressional ban on U.S. military involvement.”

The U.S. budget for the coming fiscal year, presented by Gerald Ford on , provides for an increase in military spending; and the planners announce that they expect to increase federal spending for the military on a rising level for the next five years.

The U.S. seems to be operating a "Permanent War Economy,” to use the title of Seymour Melman’s new book.

We think if enough public clamor is raised about the wholly fraudulent actions of IRS in the matter of seizure of the property of Gano Peacemakers, it might cause IRS to remove the lien — and more important, it would serve the larger purpose of educating the public about the methods of the warfare state.

Ernest Bromley Released

Charges have been dropped against Ernest Bromley, arrested on , while leafleting at the IRS Center in Cincinnati. He fasted from food and water, and refused to co-operate with the court proceedings, even refusing legal assistance. Despite weakness from the fast, and injuries incurred during his arrest and incarceration, Ernest Bromley will continue to resist the IRS action.

Eds. note.

The National Catholic News Service put this out over the wires on :

Priest Says He Not Filing Income Tax Return as Protest

In a letter to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) a pacifist priest with a long record of involvement in social causes has stated his intention not to file an income tax return.

Father John P. Egan of St. Boniface’s Church here informed the IRS that he would not file the required tax form as a protest over what he called the “war-making” policies of the U.S. government.

Father Egan admits the protest is symbolic because he is not subject to a tax liability and has not been required to pay a tax for the past five years, because of deductions and donations to charitable causes.

But he said that he feels it is important to subject himself to the penalties imposed for not complying with the tax law in the matter of filing a return because at the time he had torn up his draft card in a previous protest he was exempt from the draft. The maximum penalty for failing to file an income tax form is one year in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Even as he was taking this action Father Egan learned that his conviction on a trespassing charge stemming from a Demonstration on behalf of the United Farm Workers of America (UFWA) was being reversed.

Father Egan and 15 other UFWA supporters were arrested in South Orange, N.J., for a demonstration at a supermarket there. A municipal court verdict was upset as a result of an appeal to Essex County Superior Court.

On a hearing was to be held in Washington, D.C. in a case stemming from his arrest earlier this year during a protest inside the White House as part of an anti-war demonstration.

Father Egan’s letter to the IRS was reprinted in the Catholic Worker:

St. Boniface Church
254 First St.,
Jersey City, N.J. 07302


As , the last day for filing income tax returns, approaches, let me serve notice on the government that I do not wish to serve its disregard for humans. For the same reason as I ripped up my draft card and registration some time ago, I now refuse to fill out any income tax form.

I choose not to give money to kill. For years, any extra money that could have gone to this government for the purposes of war, I gave to many different humanizing efforts. This way, I made sure there were no taxable monies available from me.

I want to say no strongly to an administration which would spend nine billion dollars more for war-making and would cut out an already allotted 2.6 billion for things ranging from cancer research to schools and hospitals.

I want to say no strongly to a government which makes the poor and the old grovel for enough bread to survive while it struggles to give oil depletion allowances to those who have robbed the earth of natural resources meant for all, not for a favored few. Imagine wanting to give taxpayers’ money to those who have made 130 percent profit off a probably contrived energy crisis which caused suffering to millions! Of course, the poor always have an energy crisis. They live in fear of having heat, gas, electricity shut off because there is not the money to pay the exorbitant bills. But it is not just that taxpayers’ dollars are used for war and for oil depletion allowances. That would be enough for tax resistance.

I want to say no strongly, by not filling out an income tax form, because money from the people of this country is used to train police in other countries how to torture, how to repress demands for justice. Money from this country was used to overthrow a legitimate government in Chile, with the subsequent murder of countless Chilean citizens. Money from this country is used to support and maintain dictatorships in South Korea, in the Phillipines, in Brazil and in the Dominican Republic, and in other Latin American countries where big business gains enormous profit off the cheap labor, off the enslaved backs of millions of our brother and sister humans who live in neighboring lands.

Money from this country, from the people of this country is used to keep people who yearn for freedom in inhuman prisons. And there is no asylum here for the economically or politically oppressed, as the dollars are spent to weed out illegal aliens in hunts that put to shame and mock the words on the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.”

To the laws that de-humanize, and that are anti-human, anti-life, I say no not just with a clear conscience but as a way of clearing conscience. The law of love the only one we must keep, is violated blatantly.

Jesus says we must love our neighbor. My neighbors in Jersey City are poor, old, Puerto Rican, black, illegal, and the way taxes are spent violates their humanity! I say no to such violation of the people here in Downtown Jersey City and to all my neighbors with whom I share life on this planet.

Rev. John P. Egan

That issue also had updates on the Bromley/Peacemakers conflict with the IRS:

Bromleys Face Eviction for Tax Resistance

By Peggy Scherer

It was in that the Internal Revenue Service first sent notices to The Peacemaker and to Ernest and Marion Bromley, claiming approximately $25,000 in unpaid taxes. The assessment, based on banking records of The Peacemaker, claimed that Ernest had been a paid employee. This claim is false: Ernest never received payment for years of work on The Peacemaker. IRS also claimed that recipients of money from The Peacemaker Sharing Fund, which supports families of imprisoned war resisters, were employees and taxes were owed on their “salaries.” This last claim was later dropped. The first claim has been carried through, with a second injustice. The assessment is based on financial records of The Peacemaker; but the property that has been taken to pay the unjust assessment, a house located near Cincinnati, Ohio, belongs to Gano Peacemakers, Inc., which is a separate financial entity. Though the house belonging to Gano Peacemakers Inc. is also the home of Ernest and Marion Bromley, and was the mailing address of The Peacemaker until recently, no money was ever exchanged between the two groups. But the house was seized by the IRS on , and sold at auction on .

SSS Secret Flies

This case has serious implications for the Peacemaker Movement as a whole. If IRS succeeds in this action, it can proceed to make it impossible for The Peacemaker to continue. There are political implications for thousands of other peace groups and individuals as well. The auditing of The Peacemaker funds in came soon after the Special Services Staff (SSS) drew up a file on The Peacemaker and Ernest Bromley, then acting editor of the paper. A memo on this file, dated , singled out The Peacemaker and Ernest Bromley for tax refusal and encouraging others to refuse to pay war taxes. The SSS was set up by IRS, at the request of Richard Nixon. Its purpose was to study groups and individuals who protested against the US government, especially those who protested US involvement in Vietnam. The SSS investigated and drew up files on 2873 organizations and 8585 individuals who were considered extremists and dissidents. Only 99 of these files have ever been made public. The existence of the memo on The Peacemaker was discovered by accident. And though the SSS was supposedly disbanded on , the continued harassment of the Peacemaker movement, and the fact that the files have not been destroyed or made public, even to the people studied in the files, indicates otherwise. The man in charge of setting up the SSS was Leon Green, then deputy assistant commissioner of IRS — and now regional commissioner of the IRS, headquartered in Cincinnati.

The continued and secret existence of these files is dangerous. In connection with the Bromley case, a reporter and a group of Quakers requested to see all files pertaining to the case. Although all the proper request forms were filed through official channels, this group was continuously denied access to the files. Another reporter who wrote a newspaper article sympathetic to the Bromleys had his own accounts audited by the IRS soon after his article appeared.

Peacemaker Response

The IRS has been informed of the true facts of this case, but has continued almost without hesitation. Since the first notice sent the Bromleys in , hundreds of letters of protest sent to IRS have resulted in one change. IRS claims that recipients of Sharing Fund monies were employees have been dropped. But the assessment was readjusted and fines were added to keep the amount they claimed was due them at about $25,000. The Bromleys, because of personal beliefs that to appeal through IRS appeals courts would be to recognize an unjust system, will not work through the courts. They believe, rather, in personal witness and public disclosure of the abuse of power. In accordance with this belief, the Bromleys and many others have written letters, leafletted the IRS building in Cincinnati daily for the last five months, and gotten newspaper articles written. Personal conversations between individual Peacemakers and IRS officials leave no doubt that IRS has all the facts but is acting anyway. Education of the public in the facts of this case, and the credibility that this is in fact an act of political harassment, was attested to when, on , Cincinnati’s city council voted 8 to 1 to ask two Congressional committees to probe this affair.

There is still time to respond to this case, on the part of individuals and groups. Write to demand the reversal of the sale of the house (a step which IRS can still take until the official closing of the sale and eviction, which will take place on, or around, ). Request that all the SSS files be destroyed, and that the IRS not be allowed to harass any other groups or individuals who disagree with the government. Letters should be sent to:

Regional Commissioner Leon Green
District Director Dwight James
Federal Office Building
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202

Donald Alexander, Commissioner, IRS
12th & Constitution, NW
Washington, DC 20224

The Congressional Committees investigating the case are the US Senate Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights, 102 B Russell, Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510, and the Oversight Committee of the House Ways and Means Committee, 2371 Rayburn Building, Washington, DC 20515.

Those who have faith in government processes might write these committees.

The most important witness will be on , at the National Headquarters of IRS in Washington. We are asking as many people as possible to join us then, for a general demonstration and acts of civil disobedience, in protest of IRS harassment of the Bromleys and all political dissenters. For exact times, gathering points, and information on housing, etc., contact Kathi Milanowski, c/o Community of Creative Nonviolence, 1345 Euclid St. NW, Washington, DC 20009 (202) 667‒6407. There will be an action the same day in Cincinnati — contact John Leininger, The Peacemaker, 1255 Paddock Hills Ave., Cincinnati, Ohio 45229 about this action and for more information on the case.

Demonstration at IRS

A general demonstration, protesting IRS harassment of the Bromleys and all political dissenters, will be held at the National Headquarters of IRS, in Washington, D.C. For exact times, gathering points, and information on housing, contact Kathi Milanowski, c/o CCNV, 1345 Euclid St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20009, (202) 667‒6407.

The issue of The Catholic Worker gave an update on the national War Tax Resistance organization, which I think was nearly finished by this point:

War Tax Resistance

The War Tax Resistance national office has moved to 629 South Hill St., Los Angeles, Ca. 90014. Mandy Carter, a member of the War Resisters League, is the new coordinator of WTR. The office provides literature on war tax resistance, and publishes the bi-monthly Tax Talk.