current events in tax resistance including a Pacific Yearly Meeting fund to help tax resisting Quakers, innovations in tax resistance in Spain, and the implications of Mitt Romney’s infamous “47%” comment
ideas and actions including the Afghan Peace Volunteers group, a recent talk radio broadcast about war tax resistance, an on-line penny poll, and updates on a recent Plowshares action and on the Iran Pledge of Resistance
upcoming evens like the NWTRCC national gathering next month in Colorado, the New England regional gathering later this month in Massachusetts, the School of the Americas action in November, and next year’s international war tax resistance conference
Lee elaborated on his tax-fighting plan in an interview after he announced it
at a meeting of the American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers.
At the meeting, he put it this way:
“I shall put my tax in the bank here in Salt Lake City. Not a dollar of it
will they (the federal government) get until legality of the case is tested
in the United States Supreme Court.”
Lee said he is taking his tax action to “awaken the American people.”
“My main thinking,” he said, “is if I can get this before the public I can
get some people to thinking about this thing. I’m interested in having the
American people awakened to what’s occurring in this country.”
Lee’s announced plan recalled the cases of two women whose defiance of the
federal income tax laws drew considerable attention not many years ago.
One involved Miss Vivien Kellems, a Stonington,
Conn., industrialist and
critic of government tax policy. The other concerned Mrs. Caroline Foulke
Urie, a Quaker widow from Yellow Springs, Ohio, who objected to government
expenditures for war. Mrs. Urie died at the age of 81.
, Miss Kellems stopped
withholding income taxes from employes of her cable grip firm, contending the
tax law was unconstitutional and claiming the government couldn’t require
her to serve as an unpaid tax collector.
The government paid no heed to her requests to be indicted to provide a test
case. Instead, it levied penalties totaling $7,819 and seized the money from
the Kellems company’s bank accounts. However, Miss Kellems and her brother
David sued to recapture the money. In , a Federal Court Jury in New Haven decided she had not acted
“willfully” and returned a verdict entitling Miss Kellems to recover most of
the money the government had seized.
Mrs. Urie’s case arose in
when she decided to withhold part of her income tax because she believed it
would be spent for war purposes. The amount so withheld she donated to
organizations she felt were promoting peace.
The government never sought to prosecute.
When I was going through Ammon Hennacy’s writings as part of the research
that led to my “one-man revolution” post , I kept an eye out for
mentions of J. Bracken Lee. Though they were not particularly ideologically
compatible, the two were both tax resisters and Hennacy spent a good deal of
time in Salt Lake City, Utah, as the organizer of a Catholic Worker house
there. And sure enough there’s a mention or two:
I had received several notices from the health department to close down the
Joe Hill House. An article in the paper said that I was not allowed to sleep
more than 10 people on the floor. I asked the inspector what he would do if I
had 11. He said he would padlock the door. I told him I would break the
padlock and beat him like Brigham Young beat the army, and in mock anger I
led him to the door and told him “to get the hell out of here.” I spoke to
Commissioner Smart and he asked me to present my appeal to the City
Commissioners. I did so and Smart said I was saving the city money by putting
up tramps. And Mayor Brack Lee said that they would go easy on the
regulations for I was doing good work; they didn’t want to put me in jail for
disobeying their regulations, and he said facetiously that they would have to
make an ordinance allowing me to do just what I was doing.
When I was selling CWs at 43 and Lexington a woman told me of a Sister Mary Catherine, a Carmelite nun, whose folks were polygamists and whose relatives are the Romneys, Apostles in the Church. I corresponded with her and she read my book and she reads the CW, and I visited her in Salt Lake City. A Jewish man by the name of Herbert Rona became a convert to the Mormons. An atheist gave him a CW and he wrote to us saying that he was a pacifist. He had me speak at his home and ex-Gov. Bracken Lee, LeGrande Richards (one of the 12 Apostles), Professor Bennion, and Judge Anderson, all Mormons, came to a meeting at Rona’s house where I explained my radical ideas.
In , upon motion of non-Mormon Mayor
“Brack” Lee, the City Commissioners passed a resolution unanimously
favoring the serving of Negroes in all restaurants and public places. This
was taken because a Negro reported that he had been refused service in a
restaurant, but this is a recommendation, not a law.