Hang Up on War with Phone Tax Resistance

The following comes from the edition of a zine from Cleveland, Ohio that went by the name The Buddhist Third Class Junkmail Oracle:

Hang Up On War!

As a result of the widening war in Vietnam, federal legislation was passed which, in , restored the 10% tax on telephone bills.

“It is clear,” said Rep. Wilbur Mills, who managed the tax legislation in the House, “that the Vietnam and only the Vietnam operation makes this bill necessary.” [Congressional Record, ]

Why pray for peace & pay for war? For further information: War Resisters League, Tax Resistance Project, 5 Beekman Street, New York 10038

Congressman Mills was always careful to refer to “our operations in Vietnam.” But those of us who know its true nature know it is not an operation but a tragic bloodbath. We know that revenue for the Vietnam war pays for:

  • napalm, mass bombings, and other attacks on civilian areas resulting in extermination of thousands of Vietnames — about 200,000 casualties in the last year and a half;
  • forcing young Americans into “kill-civilians-or-be-killed” situations. Over 14,450 G.I.s have been killed in vietnam;
  • perpetuating a military dictatorship;
  • violation of the Nurenberg precedents, the U.N. Charter, and the Geneva Accords of ;
  • indefinite continuation of war against a people who desire above all to be alive and to determine their destinly free from foreign domination.

A tax boycott demonstrates that you believe this war to be immoral and/or illegal and that you are willing to act on this belief.

We boycott the telephone tax because:

  • it is directly imposed to pay for the Vietnam war;
  • anyone with a phone can refuse to pay this tax;
  • the monthly refusal of a small amount of money creates a thorny collection problem for the Internal Revenue Service.

Over three thousand people in all parts of the country are currently refusing to pay this war tax. In virtually every case telephone companies have assured the refusers that their telephone service will not be interrupted.

A recent announcement by IRS that in the future phone tax refusers would not be granted personal hearings is an indication of what a strain we’ve put on their resources. We know that the San Francisco office of IRS even wrote to the Attorney General in Washington asking for help in coping wth this problem (Washington was unable to help). In an effort to harass phone tax refusers in the Midwest IRS has begun charging what is probably an illegal $5 fine for the privilege of taking the unpaid taxes from a bank account. Interest at the rate of 6% per year is also charged. We are encouraging phone tax refusers to respond to the elimination of the personal hearing by insisting that they have a meeting and if the request is denied, beginning legal action since the new procedure amounts to a denial of due process. Those who are fined $5 should also consider legal action. Clearly, the government’s position vis-a-vis those opposed to its policies is that in case of conflict between the smooth running of its machine and the right of individuals to exert whatever influence they can on policy, individual rights will have to be sacrificed. In America we usually do it the other way, or so we have been led to believe.

Telephone companies have for the most part been cooperative — even helpful. Some people in Maryland who couldn’t bring themselves to refusing the tax compromised by sending a letter of protest with their payment. The phone company called up and proceeded to explain how one subtracted the tax, assuming that these customers wanted to refuse the tax but didn’t quite know how.