Coerce Taxpayers Into Refusing to Pay

I gave some examples of social boycotts and shunning being used as a way of discouraging non-participation in a tax resistance campaign.

Campaigns have also used threats of violence and other, more ambiguous threats as a way of trying to coerce reluctant people into resisting their taxes. Here are some examples:

  • During the Whiskey Rebellion, rebels threatened to destroy the stills of distillers who complied in paying the excise tax. Here are some other examples:
    • A letter from “Tom the Tinker” (a collective alias used by the rebels) to one distiller told him that he must stop paying the tax, must join them in their paramilitary activities, and must publish the letter containing these threats in the newspaper at his own expense.
    • Alexander Hamilton complained that “nor were the outrages perpetrated confined to the officers; they extended to private citizens who only dared to show their respect for the laws of their country.” Also: “a person of the name of Roseberry underwent the humiliating punishment of tarring and feathering, with some aggravations, for having in conversation hazarded the very natural and just but unpalatable remark, that the inhabitants of that county could not reasonably expect protection from a government whose laws they so strenuously opposed.”
    • “Robert Shawhan, a distiller, who had been among the first to comply with the law, and who had always spoken favorably of it… had his barn burnt, with all the grain and hay which it contained.”
    • There were “threats of tarring and feathering one William Cochran, a complying distiller, and of burning his distillery; and that it had also been given out that, in three weeks, there would not be a house standing in Alleghany County, of any person who had complied with the laws.”
    • “[M]en called at the house of James Kiddoe, who had recently complied with the laws, broke into his still-house, fired several balls under his still, and scattered fire over and about the house.”
    • “James Kiddoe, the person above mentioned, and William Cochran, another complying distiller, met with repeated injury to their property. Kiddoe had parts of his grist-mill at different times carried away, and Cochran suffered more material injuries; his still was destroyed, his saw-mill was rendered useless by the taking away of the saw, and his grist-mill so injured as to require to be repaired at considerable expense.”
  • During the Fries Rebellion, also, one family “said there were some bad people living in the neighborhood who would do them injury if they submitted to the rates.”
  • The Rebecca Rioters sometimes took or threatened reprisals against those who willingly paid tolls or who refused to join their tollbooth destruction gallivants:
    • One notice from the rioters read: “This is to give notice, that the goods of all persons who will henceforth pay at Water Street Gate will be burned and their lives will be taken from them at a time they will not think — ’Becca.”
    • “Mr. Thomas of Clynarthen, having refused to join them, had his wheat-field entirely destroyed before morning, by their turning cattle from the mountain into it that night.”
    • “[T]he farmyard of Mr. Howell Davies, a respectable farmer living in the village of Conwil, and an Anti-Rebeccaite, was set on fire. With the assistance of the neighbours the fire was ultimately got under, but not until two ricks of hay and three stacks of corn or straw had become a prey to the devouring element.”
  • During the tax strike in a French wine region, “there have been threats to burn the property of those mayors failing to resign and of those taxpayers who satisfy the taxgatherers’ demand.” And “committees have been nominated to see individuals who have not undertaken not to pay taxes.”
  • In Ghana in , a meeting of rebellious groups “swore not to let the grandees go to the fort nor pay any tax, even if the government should fight with them, and to make war with any party breaking the agreement.” At one point, making good on this threat, “[a] stir was made by some ruffians when they perceived the chiefs of Christiansborg were on the point of giving in, upon which the whole assembly, amounting to over 4000 men, at once took up arms to [threaten to] attack the merchants.”
  • A report on the Beit Sahour tax resistance movement said of businesses in the town that “if they paid, they undermined the resistance movement, [and] were harassed and threatened by intifada leaders.”

Other descriptions are more vague, and may or may not imply violent threats:

  • In the French revolution, “[i]f a docile taxpayer happens to be found, he is not allowed to pay the dues; this seems a defection and almost treachery.”
  • During the Irish Tithe War, “the public opinion of Ireland was dead against the payment of tithes. That public opinion hinted pretty plainly to those who were willing, for peace and quietness, to pay tithes to their Protestant masters, that such payment would not necessarily secure to them peace and quietness.” A meeting of Kilkenny farmers passed a resolution saying that, “we consider the man that pays tithes (unless he be a Protestant) an enemy to his neighbour, an enemy to his country, an enemy to his religion, and an enemy to his God.”