Tax Resistance in the American Catholic Press, 1983

Today, some excerpts from The Catholic News Archive concerning tax resistance in .

An obituary for Dwight Macdonald in the Catholic Worker touched on his tax resistance. Excerpt:

In , he joined the “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest” in refusal to pay taxes for the Vietnam War. This was his first act of civil disobedience. Dwight defended his action as “the deliberate, public, and non-violent breaking of a law because to obey it would be to betray a higher morality.”

The National Catholic News Service sent this dispatch over the wires on . Excerpts:

British Churchmen Urge Disarmament Steps

By Robert Nowell

Two top church leaders in Great Britain have urged nuclear disarmament initiatives by their country and a third revealed that he is waging a tax protest against England’s military spending.

On a new booklet on conscientious objection to military taxation carried the text of a letter in which a prominent Anglican, Canon Paul Oestreicher, announced to the government that he was withholding part of his income tax “as an act of conscientious objection to the manufacture, possession and threatened use of nuclear weapons” by the British government. Canon Oestreicher is assistant general secretary of the British Council of Churches.

Canon Oestreicher wrote to the Chancellor of the Exchequer announcing that he was withholding a token sum of 30 pounds (about $46) “as a symbol of my duty as a Christian citizen to refuse to be party to a policy which I believe to be of doubtful legality and certainly immoral.”

His letter was printed as an appendix to a booklet on military tax resistance issued by the Quaker Council for European Affairs.

The Service sent out this dispatch on :

Bishop Thanks War Tax Resisters for “Witness”

Bishop Raymond Lucker of New Ulm has thanked war tax resisters “for their witness” while stating that he does not “personally hold that position.”

“I believe that the arms race is evil. I believe that the very possession of nuclear weapons as long as we are making no sustained commitment to achieve multilateral disarmament is evil,” wrote the Minnesota bishop in a column published in The Catholic Bulletin, newspaper of the St. Paul-Minneapolls Archdiocese. The paper also serves the neighboring New Ulm Diocese.

Bishop Lucker compared war tax resistance with other forms of civil disobedience to unjust laws or immoral public policy, saying for example that he would go to jail rather than obey a law requiring him or a Catholic hospital under his jurisdiction to participate or cooperate in an abortion.

He said he resolves the problem of not supporting the “madness” of the arms race by not earning enough income to be subject to federal taxes.

“I do not want to contribute to this madness,” he wrote. “What I do is take such a small salary that I no longer pay income tax. I make sure that my annual salary each year is less than $3,600. This is no special hardship; my needs are few. I have no family to support. I am free to contribute to the poor.”

In Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen of Seattle announced that he was refusing to pay half of his federal income tax as a symbol of his resistance to U.S. involvement in the nuclear arms race. He said he was giving the money instead to worthy charitable causes.

In at least 10 Catholic priests around the country, including eight in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, refused to pay a portion of their taxes as a protest against U.S. nuclear arms expenditures.

The eight Pittsburgh priests announced that they would again refuse to pay the part of their taxes that goes to pay for nuclear war and nuclear weapons. They planned to hold a press conference and prayer service in Pittsburgh before delivering their tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service.

In discussing civil disobedience Bishop Lucker cited “many instances in history where Catholics and other Christians disobeyed a law rather than violate their conscience.”

“They used non-violent means and were willing to pay the consequences,” he wrote. “Frequently their witness was what got an unjust law or sinful public policy changed.”

Among cases he cited were those of early Christian martyrs who refused to worship the Roman emperor, St. Thomas More’s refusal to acknowledge King Henry Ⅷ as head of the Church of England and the non-violent resistance to racist laws in the United States by the Rev. Martin Luther King and his followers.

He said that Jehovah’s Witnesses in the United States were beaten and jailed before the U.S. Supreme Court recognized their right to refuse to salute the flag because they believe the action would violate the First Commandment.

“Hundreds of thousands of Americans are working to change the interpretation of the Constitution which allows abortions taking life away from the unborn. We have a right to dissent. We must dissent. The issue is not going to go away,” he wrote.

He also wrote that a Christian soldier has an obligation to disobey an order that is immoral and that a person “can be a good Catholic and a conscientious objector” to all war or to a particular war.

“Each of us in our own way must respond to the Lord’s call,” Bishop Lucker wrote. He said that not engaging in direct civil disobedience but not earning enough money to be subject to U.S. income taxes “is one way for me.”

The Service sent out this dispatch on :

Tax Resistance Funds Go to Catholic Agencies

By Brian Baker

Catholic and Catholic-affiliated agencies were among 33 social service and community organizations that received donations from a war tax resistance fund in Albany.

On , the day before the deadline for filing tax returns, the Military Tax Resistance and Alternative Fund distributed more than $5,500 in checks, ranging from $50 to $600, to the non profit organizations.

The money came from people who, for reasons of conscience, refused to pay the portion of their federal income tax that they estimated would be used for military purposes.

At least five of the recipient organizations were agencies affiliated with the Diocese of Albany, among them Catholic Family and Community Services of Schenectady.

The tax resistance fund has grown each year, from $1,000 when it was begun in to $5,500 .

total was $1,500 more than despite a new federal law passed last summer which adds a $500 penalty for filing a frivolous return on top of already existing penalties for failing to pay all taxes owed.

Maureen Casey, a spokesperson for the fund and a member of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Albany, said she has been a tax resister for three years because “it is wrong to kill people, either personally or through war.”

“I see what I am doing as the continuation of a tradition followed by many respectable people, including Dorothy Day,” a pacifist and foundress of the Catholic Worker movement, Ms Casey added.

Donald Roberts, a public affairs officer for the Internal Revenue Service, said that tax resisters could have assets seized or levies placed against their salaries to recover the taxes and applicable penalties. In addition, he said, if the IRS decides to launch a criminal investigation a resister could be prosecuted and imprisoned.

He added, however, that the agencies receiving donations from a tax resistance fund face no legal risks for doing so.

This “news in brief” item was carried by the Service on :

An Indianapolis parish has been ordered to pay for its pastor’s act of civil disobedience. The Internal Revenue Service has issued a notice of levy on the salary of Father Cosmas Raimondi of Holy Cross Parish for $604.18 for unpaid income tax, penalties and interest. While Father Raimondi was associate pastor at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, Indianapolis, in he informed the IRS that he was withholding 50 percent of his income tax “as a protest against the nuclear arms race, military intervention in Central America and efforts to reinstate a mandatory military draft.”

And a follow-up on this, from a dispatch:

Friends Pay Priest’s Taxes After IRS Seizes His Car

By Jim Jachimak

An Internal Revenue Service case against an Indianapolis pastor has been settled, but the priest’s tax protest has not ended.

The IRS seized Father Cosmas Raimondi’s car on to cover federal income taxes which he withheld in but other parties have decided to pay the tax so the car can be returned.

Taxes, penalties and interest owed by Father Raimondi, pastor of Holy Cross Church, amounted to $608.14. The car, a Honda Civic, was valued at $2,500 by the IRS.

“I have been informed that people who care about me are getting the car back by paying the taxes, which I would rather not have happen,” Father Raimondi said. “But that is their decision.”

He withheld $564.87 from the IRS to protest the nuclear arms race, U.S. intervention in Central America and draft registration. the IRS has been attempting to collect the back taxes.

He said his action has focused attention on the issue of militarism and caused the parish council at Holy Cross to discern “the good and moral thing to do given the teachings of our church.”

In an IRS levy against Father Raimondi’s salary ordered the Holy Cross parish council to pay the amount he owed. The council announced that it had decided not to honor the levy.

Father Raimondi said that he plans to take a reduction of salary in the future so that he will not be required to pay any federal income tax.

Jane Sammon wrote an article on tax resistance for the Catholic Worker. There’s very little meat in it, but it does have the earliest mention I’ve found so far in this archive to the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (with a post office box address in East Patchogue, New York, and Kathy Levine listed as the contact person).