Sally Buckley Tries to Pay Her Taxes with Medical Supplies

Here’s a short article on Sally Buckley’s creative war tax resistance protest action in :

IRS Refuses Goods For Tax Payment

U.S. marshals have refused to permit an antiwar group to deliver medical supplies to the Internal Revenue Service in payment of a St. Paul pacifist’s income taxes.

The security guards denied entrance to the federal building to the group so they left the four boxes of medical supplies on the sidewalk in front of the building’s main entrance.

The supplies were brought on behalf of Sally Buckley, 26, a former hospital employe who refuses to pay the tax because she believes the money would go to finance the government’s war in Indochina.

I did a little sleuthing to try to find out more about Sally Buckley. At The Sampson Family blog, “SueS” writes:

My colleague at the Seattle City Attorney’s office was Sarah Ann (“Sally”) Buckley. She joined the office a year or so after I, joining in or so, and was an intern until she could take her Bar exam. She was quiet in person, but she was passionate about her politics. She told me that a few years earlier, she had protested the Vietnam war, and as part of her protest, she had refused to pay the tax on her telephone service. That tax was earmarked to support the war, and it was a federal offense to fail to pay it.

Of all things, a prosecutor in the Midwest — I am thinking Minnesota or Michigan — decided to prosecute Sally over the pittance that was due. Now, my prosecutor friends will point out that it’s the nature of the offense, not its magnitude, that is the crime — you are just as guilty if you pinch one grape from a grocery store as if you steal a whole ham. But if you consider the costs of a prosecutor, a judge, a courtroom, and a public defender, you have to question the public policy of criminalizing acts with very small consequences.

Sally completely admitted refusing to pay her phone tax, and made her reason clear. The United States District Court judge had no choice but to convict her, and to impose sentence. He ordered that she pay the tax, or go to jail. Sally was fully prepared to go to jail, but hours before she was due to report for incarceration, somebody paid the tax for her.

Her conviction issue came up when Sally applied for admission to the Bar in Washington. She had to explain to the Bar whether or not her crime was one of moral turpitude. She wrote to the federal judge who had convicted her, asking “Do you remember…?”

The judge replied at once, saying essentially, “Yes, I certainly do remember you, young lady.” He supported Sally’s petition to be admitted to the bar. He remembered that her act was one of moral conviction, not an act of moral turpitude at all.

On the strength of the judge’s letter, and others such as that from our boss, City Attorney Doug Jewett vouching for her character, Sally was admitted to the bar.

She told me that she never did find out who had paid her telephone tax — but she suspected that it was the judge.

In another version of the story (or perhaps a second confrontation), Buckley declared “the family of man” as her dependents when she filed her W-4 form. The government responded by arresting her on and charging her with criminal tax fraud! Clearly they had gotten spooked by war tax resisters. In this story, too, she was ordered to pay the tax or go to jail, but some anonymous person paid the tax for her.