The Panama City, Florida News-Herald published the following editorial :
Income Tax Payment Refusals Increasing
What with objections to the war in Vietnam, there appear to be some increase in the number of persons refusing to pay all or part of their federal income taxes.
Refusal to pay income taxes has been going on for a long time. Some individuals object to the idea of the income tax as theft of one’s earnings. Others object to the things the politicians are doing with their money.
Then there are individuals like Austin T. Flett of Chicago. Flett for 12 consecutive years has filed a blank income tax return as a protest. He demands he be taken before a jury and tried so he can show that through “interlocking subversion” certain persons in government have violated the Constitution by favoring privileged groups. He contends such groups as cooperatives, labor unions, and religious organizations “unlawfully escape, each year, the payment of a great many billions of dollars in federal income taxes.”
A former insurance man, he has contended that the taxes he previously was forced to pay in effect subsidized certain mutual-type, tax-exempt competitors.
Most of the people like Flett have been shrugged off by the bulk of people as “odd,” although some have expressed a grudging admiration for the man who has virtually dared the Internal Revenue Service to take him to court.
Now, however, the Wall Street Journal reports, a group called the War Tax Resistance has opened offices in New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia and plans to open other offices to coordinate a campaign to spur mass refusal to pay at least $5 of some federal tax. The main targets are the income tax and the 10 per cent excise tax on telephone service. The objective is to compel withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam.
The Journal says there have been 1,025 persons who refused to pay all or part of their tax because of the war in , compared with 592 for . The total number of persons refusing to pay the telephone tax in had been running at about the same rate as in the previous year.
We recently heard of some people in California who were refusing to pay their state income taxes because of what has been happening on the campuses of the University of California and the state colleges. The number apparently has not been great.
We are less concerned with what people do with their tax money, pay it or hold it, than why they do so. We think a person who refuses to pay tax on reasonable showing that the revenue is converted to immoral use, including fraud and initiated force, stands on just grounds. On the other hand, a person who like a communist believes in initiating force against others has no principle to stand on; he simply refuses to pay because he hopes for some expedient gain. So the same action can come from different causes. What is important, we think, is for more people to understand that taxation of its very essence is the taking of property against the consent of the owner, and institutionalized form of theft. When this one idea prevails, the governmental authorities will not have so much power to perform immoral acts.
The Biblical command to render tribute to whom tribute is due and to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s cannot be construed so far as to command knowing participation in immoral government acts. After all, not everything that Caesar claims is Caesar’s; neither are you under any obligation to render tribute to whom tribute is not due.
Austin Flett died in , still defiant. He claimed to have spent some $200,000 fighting the IRS, but didn’t turn over any tax or fill in his tax returns for the last 13 years of his life.