When Nixon got caught using the IRS to go after his political enemies, one of the consequences was that the agency — though on the cusp of victory in its battle to seize the home of war tax resister Ernest Bromley — surrendered and returned the home to its rightful owners.
Washington, D.C. (AP) — A pacifist group’s scheduled protest rally at Internal Revenue Service headquarters turned into a victory celebration after the agency reversed its seizure of a home owned by members of the organization.
While about 40 members of the Peacemakers danced and sang outside, IRS Commissioner Donald Alexander received several of their leaders in his office to confirm the decision to drop all assessments against the 25-year-old group.
The action meant the return of the Cincinnati, Ohio, home of Peacemaker founder Ernest Bromley and several friends active in the organization. Earlier this year, the IRS technically seized the house against a claim of $33,000 the group allegedly owed in back taxes for the years . None of the occupants was forced to move out.
Talked With Bromley
A spokesman for Alexander said the IRS district office in Cincinnati decided to reverse its lien upon the property following an interview with Bromley. As to why Alexander personally met with Peacemaker leaders, the aide would say only “he talks with various groups from time to time.”
Bromley did not attend [the protest/celebration, presumably —♇] because of illness, friends said.
The tax assessment against the Peacemakers had followed a probe in of that group and other anti-war organizations by the now-defunct Special Service unit of the IRS. According to revelations which surfaced during the Watergate scandal, the unit developed an “enemies” list of about 11,000 individuals and groups with anti-war views.
Alexander has long acknowledged that activity as improper and has promised that the list would no longer be used in tax investigations.
In the meantime, the Peacemakers protested the levy on grounds that the case was politically tainted and, moreover, that ownership of the Cincinnati house was not tied directly to the organization and hence was not liable to seizure.
The case attracted considerable controversy in the Cincinnati area, including an 8-1 vote of the City Council to request a congressional investigation of the IRS action.
One Peacemakers spokesman, Chuck Matthei, said the group thanked Alexander for the reversal “despite the recalcitrance” but also told him of suspicions that Special Services files are still active in IRS regional offices.
Moreover, said Matthei, the group vowed to continue its advocacy of non-payment of federal taxes so long as any portion of them go to support the defense program. Matthei said he and most of the other pacifists still active in the group deliberately live below the taxable income level to avoid criminal liability.