Walter Brandt Says No Tax Until Government Obeys the Law

You see this sort of gambit take place within government all the time: Congress doesn’t like what the President is doing, so it refuses to pass a budget and “shuts down” the government to try to force things to go its way. Or the courts, with their “exclusionary rule,” effectively tell police that if they can’t be bothered to collect evidence in a legal manner, the courts won’t bother themselves to consider the evidence thereby collected.

Some individual citizens like to think they can play this game too, and say to governments: “if you’re going to ignore the law, then so will I; I’ll start paying taxes when you start operating legally again.” Here’s an example I found in the Winona [Minnesota] Republican-Herald:

Wisconsin Employe Refuses to Pay Tax

 — Walter Brandt, 23-year old state employe in this Waukesha County village, said , he’s going to stop paying his state income tax until constitutional reapportionment is put into effect.

Brandt’s stand was made known in a letter to State Sen. Maier (D–Milwaukee).

“The question resolves itself to: if a group of legislators can refuse to obey the state constitution, can a private citizen refuse to pay his income tax?” Brandt asserted.

Wisconsin’s constitution calls for reapportionment each 10 years on a population basis. Some lawmakers are fighting for area representation as well.

“I hope my refusal to pay the state income tax will serve a major test, and a serious moral teaching to state legislators,” Brandt said.

That same report was carried in a number of other papers. The ’s Waukesha [Wisconsin] Daily Freeman added some more details in its report:

Brandt Stands On Principle

Walter Brandt, 23-year-old Statesan employe and former leader in the Waukesha county Young Democrats movement, announced that he will refuse to pay his state income tax until the state’s legislative districts are reapportioned.

Brandt made the statement in a letter to State Sen. Henry Maier, Milwaukee, co-chairman of a legislative committee for legislative redistricting.

“I intend to carry out the promise until I hear from Senator Maier,” the youth said today.

He said he made the decision “on my own” and did not consult with anyone before writing the letter to Maier.

He hopes that his refusal to pay the tax “will serve as a major test and a serious moral to state legislators.”

“If a group of legislators can refuse to obey the state constitution, can a private citizen refuse to pay his state income tax?” he asked.

Brandt said he is scheduled to meet tonight with Assemblyman Alfred Ludvigsen, Hartland, who he described as “a leader in the fight against redistricting.” He said Ludvigsen asked for the meeting “in a roundabout way.”

Brandt was one of the organizers of the Young Democrats in this county, but said today that “I’m a state employe and it’s apparent that, as such, I have no place in politics.”

The Daily Telegram of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, identified his employer as “the State Tuberculosis Sanatorium at Wales.” A later report of the meeting between Brandt and Ludvigsen included some condescending quotes from the latter about the former, but not much else of interest.

Other than that, I couldn’t find much follow-up on Brandt’s tax resistance stand. I did see that in he served alongside State Senator Henry Maier on a state Democratic party convention committee on “honesty in government and elections.”