30th Anniversary NWTRCC Newsletter

The latest issue of More Than a Paycheck, NWTRCC’s newsletter, is now on-line. It’s a special edition, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the founding of the committee.

Contents include:

I excerpted some articles about the tax resistance of Utah governor J. Bracken Lee. I’ve since found a more complete version of one of the articles that includes the following details:

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.