Art Harvey and Elizabeth Gravalos Resist War Taxes

Here is another data point from the tax resistance of Art Harvey and Elizabeth Gravalos. From the Sun-Journal of Lewiston, Maine:

Owner says IRS price tag isn’t “realistic”

Hartford property being auctioned

by Judith Meyer
Special to the Sun-Journal

The Internal Revenue Service has set minimum bids on the Route 140 home of Arthur Harvey and Elizabeth Gravalos in preparation for a property auction to satisfy an overdue tax debt.

The couple was informed that the IRS intended to seize the property for sale at auction, seeking payment on nearly $49,000 in overdue taxes dating . But the property, which includes their home, a blueberry field and some wooded acreage, won’t be enough to satisfy the debt even if the minimum bids are met.

According to Gravalos, the IRS has set the minimum bids for the property, seeking almost $10,000 for a 13-acre blueberry field and almost $21,000 for the couple’s home where they have lived for 10 years and have been renovating during that time. These minimum bids are set according to a federal formula that takes into account local property assessment.

Gravalos said the IRS, when assessing the value, hadn’t considered that the building has no running water, no electricity and only an organic compost system for solid waste.

“I just don’t think it’s realistic,” Gravalos said, referring to buyers who may be interested in purchasing the house.

The couple call themselves tax resisters and Harvey hasn’t paid federal taxes and Gravalos as a way of protesting the government’s use of nuclear weapons and its policies on sending American troops and weapons overseas.

The IRS notice of seizure was delivered and includes not only the home and blueberry field, but another 21 acres of woodlot in Hartford.

Gravalos and Harvey said just after the notice of seizure was served that they were fielding many offers of help from family and friends. Gravalos said Friday that a group of people was willing to get together and form a trust to buy the blueberry field so the couple can lease the land back and continue to earn a living.

Blueberry farming is the couple’s chief source of income.

“We’re not encouraging them (to form the trust) because the price is too high,” Gravalos said, because they’re not too interested in paying a high lease term on the land they once owned. “It’s almost $10,000 for 13 acres down a road you can’t travel seven months a year,” Gravalos said of the minimum bid price. “It’s just a ridiculous price,” that she thinks won’t come close to being met when the property goes to auction.

The couple was given 10 days to protest the minimum bids, with the deadline falling in , but in order to protest the bid Gravalos said they would have to hire somebody to evaluate the property and they are not interested in that extra expense.

Gravalos also said she didn’t believe there was any need to protest the minimum bids because when the property goes to auction, she said the bids will show the IRS how inflated the bids are.

If she’s wrong and somebody does bid $21,000 for the house, Gravalos said, “If somebody bids that high, let them have it,” because she doesn’t think the house is worth nearly that much either in fair market or assessed property value.

The couple is not making any plans to move just yet, Gravalos said, but will wait until after the auction to see how soon they’re forced to leave.

Profits from the auction will be used to pay overdue tax bills of $8,103 from ; $7,708 from ; $10,478 from ; $11,044 from ; $7,334 from ; and $3,806 from .

As it turns out, nobody bid on the house, but the wood lot and blueberry field were sold at auction . The IRS tried again, at a lower minimum bid, and Gravalos’s mother purchased the house for $15,663 .

An article from covered the house seizure itself. Excerpts:

IRS grabs home in Hartford

by Judith Meyer
Special to the Sun-Journal

Two Internal Revenue Service agents knocked on Arthur Harvey and Elizabeth Gravalos’ front door and informed the couple that the federal agency was seizing all of their property as payment for unpaid taxes and penalties.

The visit was not entirely a surprise for the couple since Harvey hasn’t paid any federal income taxes , and Gravalos . The two are politically opposed to the government’s use of nuclear weapons and its policies of sending American troops and weapons overseas, they said.

The couple seems resigned to the seizure action and the consequences facing their family of four. “The inconvenience to us is a lot less than the people who were maimed or died during the Gulf War,” Gravalos said, explaining that the couple has peacefully resisted paying federal income taxes because they have no say in where that money is to be spent.

“We have to draw the line somewhere,” Harvey said, noting that during the past 30 to 40 years, IRS agents have visited him and questioned him, but have never seized any of his property.

The IRS notice of seizure includes the couple’s small home and outbuildings across the street from the Hartford Town Office where they have lived for 10 years; a 13-acre blueberry field which they farm; and two woodlots in Hartford of just over 21 acres. All of the property, the couple has been told, will be offered for public sale within 30 days, and then the new owner will be responsible for any eviction proceedings against the family.

The value of their combined properties is $64,000, they said, but they estimated any profit from a sale of the properties would be less than $25,000 because of a depressed real estate market.

According to Gravalos and Harvey, the IRS has figured the couple owes $62,000 in unpaid taxes and penalties for . This information could not be confirmed at either the Lewiston or Portland IRS offices as all media inquiries are fielded at the Boston office.

Gravalos and Harvey said their resistance is only to federal taxes; they pay local and state taxes each year. But they are not anti-government; Gravalos, in fact, just finished serving jury duty.

Gravalos serves as a director on the SAD 39 school board and is the volunteer chairwoman for the Hartford Recreation Commission. Harvey is also active in local committees, and served seven years on the town’s Planning Board.

They are a continued and vocal presence at public meetings for both their town and SAD 39.

Gravalos even said she would be willing to volunteer her time to satisfy the IRS bill, say for example, teaching on an Indian reservation.

Gravalos and Harvey home-school their teen-age son, Max, while their daughter, Emily is away at college.

And so far, their friends, neighbors and family have been very supportive, Gravalos said, with plenty of offers of housing and other assistance. The two have met with other tax resisters in Maine, they said, and also with representatives from Quaker City, N.H., where there is a land trust they may consider joining.

The couple has no plans to move out of the house until they are instructed to do so.

The couple hopes that whoever buys their blueberry field at public auction will lease the property back to them so they can continue farming.

From the Utica Daily Observer:

Scholarships for draft evaders

Iowa — An anti-war group, with assistance from Iowa State University, says it will award an annual scholarship to a conscientious objector to the military draft.

Preference for the privately funded scholarship will be given to a student denied federal financial aid for refusing to register for the draft. The first scholarship is to be awarded .

“Our group wants to help ensure that students who are morally opposed to fighting a war are not denied an education,” said Keith Schrag, coordinator of the Ames War Tax Resistance Fund and a member of the Ames Mennonite Fellowship.

A bill signed into law denies federal student aid to students who do not verify they have registered for the draft. The provision is being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.