An article by Ann Baker from the Eugene Register-Guard gives a peek at how the war tax resistance movement in Eugene, Oregon looked then. The Peace Investors of Eugene group no longer exists, I don’t think, though there is still a thriving war tax resistance group in Eugene.
Anti-war group urges tax resistance
If you happen to walk by the state employment office in Eugene around , don’t be surprised if someone hands you a tiny sliver of pumpkin pie and says, “We wish this was bigger but the military gets the rest.”
The pie is a symbol for two things — a new Eugene antiwar group called PIE (Peace Investors of Eugene) and an often-used pie-shaped illustration of the federal spending budget.
Members of PIE group think too much of the federal “pie” goes for defense spending. They would like to see people reduce the amount of money available for that purpose by refusing to pay the 10 per cent federal excise tax on their telephone bills and by reducing their federal income tax liability.
The group hopes to collect the money people save through these two methods and donate it to local organizations such as free schools; medical services; legal defense funds; cooperatives; peace, resistance and liberation groups; employment centers for “peace jobs” and child care centers.
When members of the group hand out the pieces of pie in front of the employment office , they will also set up large “pie charts” purportedly to show the portion of the federal budget which goes for military spending in relation to the amount allocated for other purposes.
According to Justine Heavilon, one of the organizers of PIE, the group selected the state employment office as the site for its kick-off event because “we wanted to target one of the population groups that needs the kinds of services the federal government should be providing — the unemployed.”
Mrs. Heavilon said the members are primarily people who have refused to pay their federal telephone taxes for a number of years. She estimates the current membership at about 40.
In addition to collecting and allocating money, the group plans to provide tax consultations to tell people how they can legally reduce the amount of federal income tax they have to pay. The group sponsored a clinic for this purpose and has scheduled another clinic for at Harris Hall adjacent to the Lane County Courthouse.
According to Bates, the people who refuse to pay the phone tax attach a note to their phone bills explaining the reason for the refusal.
When a person refuses to pay the phone tax, Mrs. Heavilon said, the phone company turns the unpaid bill over to the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS sends several notices over a period of months, then contacts the person and asks if he would like to pay the tax plus six per cent interest, she said.
“Many people pay at that point,” Mrs. Heavilon said. “If you refuse to pay then, they ask if you have a bank account, if you own a house or car, and if you have a job. The procedure usually used then is to take the amount (of the unpaid tax plus interest) from your bank account.”
Richard Armony, information officer for the Portland IRS district — which includes Eugene — confirmed that this is the procedure used in all tax delinquency cases. Armony said that, in addition to the six per cent interest charged for delinquent payments, there is a “failure-to-pay penalty” charged which is also six per cent of the unpaid tax amount.
Armony also said that he doesn’t know how many people in Oregon have refused to pay the phone tax because tax delinquency cases of all types are lumped into one category.
Members of the PIE group estimate there are about 100 people in the Eugene area who have consistently refused to pay the phone tax.
The PIE group’s headquarters are in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Gray, 1059 Hilyard St., Eugene.
Charles Gray died in . Here’s a news story that covers his life of activism and tax resistance. “Mrs. Charles Gray” — Leslie Brockelbank — died . The Eugene Weekly also did a recap of her life.