War tax resistance in the Friends Journal in
There was a resurgence of war tax resistance news in the Friends Journal in , including an interesting series of articles on the voluntary simplicity / low income lifestyle as a tax resistance tactic, and the beginning chapters of the tale of Quaker war tax resister Priscilla Adams.
A note in the issue plugged the “Conscience and Military Tax Campaign Escrow Account”:
Established in by the Nonviolent Action Community of Cascadia, the account allows war tax resisters to set aside refused military taxes in a secure fund. Deposits may be retrieved at any time (to replace assets seized by the IRS, for example), and interest from the account is used to promote war tax resistance and support peace and social justice activism. Depositors’ funds are reinvested in socially responsible institutions assisting low-income communities and minorities. The CMTC Escrow Account is the largest and most geographically diverse war tax redirection fund in the United States.
War tax resistance is an act of civil disobedience, and resisters potentially face fines, levies, and seizure of assets. However, the escrow account itself is a trust fund, and as such is confidential and entirely legal. Depositor records are not available to the IRS, and individual deposits are considered to be anonymous portions of a larger fund invested in fully insured institutions. Participants receive records of their transactions, annual statements, and a free subscription to NACC’s quarterly war tax resistance magazine.
(I wouldn’t rely on any of that as solid legal advice. My understanding is that the IRS sometimes treats “warehouse banks” like these as illegal operations that they can seize wholesale under the theory that they’re being operated for money laundering or tax evasion purposes.)
In a letter in the issue, William Kriebel called out Quakers on their careless or politically-correct use of of language; in particular he claimed: “There are no ‘war taxes.’ All income tax money goes into the treasury without earmarking for the military. Taxation is a legitimate power of any government. Our points of protest really are the decisions (budget-making, appropriation) to use money out of the common fund for military purposes.”
An article on the Quaker Council for European Affairs in the same issue noted in passing that “conscientious objection to war taxes” was one of the “studies for publication” that the organization had produced. Another article in that issue noted that the National Association of Evangelicals had endorsed the Peace Tax Fund bill:
“At first this was just a lonely struggle for the peace churches,” said Marian Franz, director of the campaign, “then we got the support of the mainline churches, which represent over 12 million people. Now we have support from more conservative religious organizations, who, until recently, had seemed to be unlikely allies.” Marian attributes the recently attained, broad base of support to a change in tactics from an issue of conscientious objection to an issue of religious liberties. Marian explained that “having this broad base of support means that members of Congress, even conservative members, take the issue more seriously.”
On , there was a benefit premiere showing of An Act of Conscience, a documentary on the Kehler/Corner house seizure and subsequent occupation. There was some tangential Quaker involvement in the benefit (it was sponsored by several organizations, including a regional AFSC office, and some Massachusetts Quakers took part in the occupation), and the benefit screening was covered in a note in the issue.
In the lead editorial in the issue, editor Vinton Deming paid tribute to Eleanor Webb:
Eleanor Webb, who died , was clerk of the Journal board when I was appointed editor-manager in .… It was Eleanor… who stood firmly in support of staff who resisted paying the military portion of their federal taxes.
One of the feature articles in the issue was written by David R. Bassett and told his story as “The Founder of the Peace Tax Fund Movement.” Excerpts:
marks the 25th year since the introduction of the Peace Tax Fund Bill in the U.S. Congress. I have been involved in the initiation of this legislation, a laborer in the centuries-long effort to establish on earth the type of peaceful world envisioned by Jesus and George Fox. I firmly believe that, on some significant day in the future, some nation will for the first time pass a Peace Tax Fund Bill, thereby establishing legal recognition of the right of conscientious objection to the payment of military taxes. Once this is accomplished, other nations will follow suit. I consider this goal as one of the crucial and route-determining “trail-signs” on the path to that time and place where the world will realize that ahimsa (soulforce) is the preferred way to resolve conflict and to govern communities, and where conscientious objection to war and other forms of violence will be considered the norm.
[My] orientation as a conscientious objector to war and of preventing preventable suffering impelled Miyoko and me, beginning in , to wrestle with the fact that each year we were paying (through our federal taxes) to support the Viemam War and the military system generally. In fact, some 50 percent of those tax moneys went to support U.S. military systems! One of my most graphic memories of that time was, while working many nights at Queens Hospital in Honolulu, hearing U.S. Air Force jet tankers, fully laden with jet fuel, flying over the heavily populated part of Honolulu on their way to Indochina.
Conscientious objection to payment of military taxes
In , with the Vietnam War continuing, we moved to Ann Arbor to work at the University of Michigan. We became members of the Ann Arbor Meeting and found there a number of people who were actively grappling with the issue of whether to continue to pay the military portion of federal taxes for a war that we opposed. I came to realize that any nation’s military programs are made possible the, monetary resources that, in the analysis, are extracted from the nation’s citizens by taxation. It also became clear to me that one who was conscientiously opposed to military systems must not allow his or her funds to be used for this purpose. Surveying the pervasive role of our military system not only in our foreign policies, but in its effects on our economy, our environment, and on the nation’s culture and spirit, I carne to feel that this issue was central to our times. Conscientious objection to payment of military taxes is as important to be established as was the ending of slavery and of apartheid and the establishment of women’s right to vote. At the same time, I held then, and still hold, the view that the federal government is capable of carrying out many beneficial and constructive programs and that I am willing, indeed obligated, to pay my full share of taxes to support those programs.
I came to know that it would not be enough simply to focus on reductions in military spending by influencing legislators and electing new ones (though this was obviously necessary). The challenge was to extend the right of conscientious objection to war to include not only one’s physical body, but also one’s economic resources. I knew further that there had been repeated resistance in the U.S. courts to such change and concluded that, while civil disobedience in this area (i.e., war tax resistance) would continue to be essential, the principal focus of attention should be to change the tax laws.
During the year , there was for me a struggle with my conscience, not in regard to what I believe on this issue but whether to take some action and what that action should be. Should I live below a taxable income level? move to Canada? engage in war tax resistance? take our civil disobedience actions into the judicial system? or attempt to change the federal tax laws? Miyoko and I knew that to embark on any of these actions would require great amounts of time and energy; that each course would require some changes and risks, not all of which we could anticipate at the outset; and that none were assured of “success.” I knew that to commit the time necessary to move this issue forward might conflict with my hopes of making progress in academic medicine and in research into the causes of atherosclerosis. We gradually came to the view that it seemed wisest to try to resist paying the military portion of our taxes and to begin to take steps to bring about legislative change.
It was the quiet voice of conscience that kept nagging me almost every day, as I found one or another reason not to take some action. Finally, in the , I phoned Professor Joseph Sax at the University of Michigan Law School and outlined to him the basic idea: the need to change the federal tax laws so as to have Congress grant legal recognition to the right of conscientious objection to the payment of military taxes, while enabling the taxpayer to pay the full amount of his or her tax with assurance that those tax monies would not be used for military expenditures. Professor Sax sketched out how this might be accomplished. Over a period of eight to nine months, with the assistance of Michael Hall, we began the process of drafting what became the World Peace Tax Fund Bill.
Other Ann Arbor Friends, Joe and Fran Eliot and Bob and Margaret Blood, had been considering drafting a bill. A brief written for them by Thomas Towe (a Quaker law student) proved a helpful resource. It was not hard to draw together a working committee of seven or eight people during to work on this legislation and to take the initial steps in deciding how to bring the bill to Congress, how to publicize it, and how to raise funds. We were encouraged when Ann Arbor’s Interfaith Council for Peace decided to support the legislative effort and appointed two very effective members to meet with us on a regular basis.
The World Peace Tax Fund Bill was first introduced in the U.S. Congress on , with Representative Ronald V. Dellums as the lead sponsor, with nine other cosponsors. The Peace Tax Fund office moved from Ann Arbor to the Florida Avenue Meetinghouse in Washington, D.C., in . The bill was first introduced in the Senate in , with Senator Mark Hatfield as its sponsor. In the bill was renamed the U.S. Peace Tax Fund Bill. A dedicated staff, led for the past 14 years by Marian Franz, has coordinated the lobbying effort. The orientation and the gifts that she brings to her work are evident in her book, Questions That Refuse To Go Away.
A sidebar noted resources available from the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund, and also made note of the international conferences at which similar plans proposed in other countries are discussed.
Another sidebar gave a version of the ever-popular War Resisters League “pie chart” of federal spending, showing in particular how it looks when social insurance trust fund spending is removed.
The same issue also contains Clare Hanrahan’s article “Wholesome Poverty: A Revolutionary Adventure.” Unfortunately, in the archived PDF, some of the opening paragraph is obscured by an insert card. The article appears to begin with Hanrahan saying that she initially adopted a lower-income simple-living lifestyle in order to resist war taxes, but then came to believe that frugality and thrift and anti-consumerism and simplicity had a larger role to play in the pursuit of “a just and sustainable global community.” It continues:
When I must work for wages, I do so as an independent contractor so that I can maintain control over tax withholdings. I redirect a fair percentage of cash wages and many hours of volunteer time to support life-affirming projects at home and abroad. Self-employment suits my temperament and has enabled me to develop skills and to pursue interests I may never have had the time for in a conventional career. I’ve tried to be resilient and open to any honest labor. If I’m asked what I do for a living, each day I can provide a different answer. One day I might be gathering and saving seeds for next year’s garden or harvesting wild herbs for a winter tea; another day might be spent in household repair, community organizing, or researching and writing a grant for a nonprofit organization. I’ve learned the wisdom in giving due time each day to labor of the mind and of the body and to quiet reflection that feeds the spirit. I value my free time and open schedule far more than any accumulation of cash or property, security, or prestige. The freedom to choose how I will be with each moment is a gift and a challenge that I count as my greatest wealth.
Living on the edge, more or less, over the years I have honed the skills and nurtured an attitude of wholesome poverty. Meeting basic needs without a substantial cash flow has been least stressful when I’ve lived within a stable community where interdependence and cooperative values are practiced. But during my nomadic years I learned to trust in the kindness of strangers and the serendipity of life. I came to value the gifts of the pilgrim spirit and to recognize the importance of the itinerant wayfarer in the lives of the comfortably settled.
I’ve lived and traveled aboard small sail boats, in a tipi, in rural cabins, and in derelict inner-city housing, trading cleanup and repair for rent. I’ve made do in the back of an old school bus and afloat on a homemade houseboat on a Mississippi backwater. I’ve worked in a cooperative shelter for displaced women and children, with room and board as compensation, and I’ve battered for home and garden space by exchanging pet and plant care.
My primary transportation is the slow way. As a pedestrian, a bicyclist, and a bus rider, I keep a less frantic pace, and the more personal contact with those I encounter enriches the journey. I can borrow a car or catch a lift from a friend if necessary, and by paying my fair share of the cost, the cooperative way serves each of us.
Nutritious food is available in surprising abundance if one is willing to look to unconventional channels: I’ve participated in grassroots distribution networks of urban gleanings, intercepting the produce, grains, and other surplus foods otherwise lost. Best of all, I’ve learned to grow my own food in community gardens and backyard plots whenever I had the opportunity. As a worker-member at the local coop I claimed a significant reduction on food purchases, and by eliminating meat from my diet, the cost of my sustenance is affordable and sustainable.
Insurance against old age, disability, accident, or disease has never been an affordable option, nor one in which I place my faith. Catastrophic illness or accident or the incapacities of age could happen to anyone. Yet time and again, I’ve been sustained through economic precarity with help that comes at just the right moment. This has happened so often that I live with a trust that keeps fear at bay.
I have learned to lean into the present moment, focused on the work before me, while keeping a well-honed sense of the adventure of it all and a very real faith in the unfolding process. The inherent goodness of the universe has been made visible through the most unlikely of allies, and the travelers I’ve met along the way have been the wisest of teachers.
Peace Pilgrim, writing in her pamphlet, Steps Toward Inner Peace, recalled a visit to a city that had been her home:
In the poorer sections I am tolerated. In the wealthier sections some glances seem a bit startled, and some are disdainful. On both sides of us as we walk are displayed the things that we can buy if we are willing to stay in the orderly lines, day after day, year after year… Thousands of things are displayed — and yet the most valuable things are missing. Freedom is not displayed, nor health, nor happiness, nor peace of mind. To obtain these, my friends, you too may need to escape from the orderly lines and risk being looked upon disdainfully.
Stepping outside the tyranny of “orderly lines” and daring to risk the uncertainties of disaffiliation can make of our very lives a revolution. The way to the just and sustainable global community that we seek will open before us as we walk.
Another article in the same issue took the “voluntary simplicity” idea and ran with it. Starting with Jesus’s one-sentence summary of his teachings — love your neighbor as much as you love yourself — the authors took this to mean “taking our fair share of global resources and no more.” This starts with refusing war taxes because militarism is directly destructive of “our global neighbors.” But that’s just step one of a six-step process.
Step two would be to imagine the world’s resources shared equally, which, the authors assert, means “an annual ‘fair share’ of just over $3,000 per person.” But because the world is not using its resources in an environmentally sustainable way, step #3 is to reduce this fair share some more, to a more sustainable level: $1,800 per person per year. But since that much money would go further in a place like the United States, where it’s relatively easier to live off the cast-offs of the wealthy, level #4 “challenges us to live on even less than level three, since we have an easier time doing so in a society with a relatively affluent public infrastructure.”
We’re not done yet. Level #5 considers the non-monetary wealth most Americans enjoy because of the relatively high levels of medical care and education they have had access to. “With such advantages (and others), we ought to be able to live on less resources than folks who lack education and have chronic medical problems.” Finally, level #6 is for those who are not hampered by disabilities, encouraging them to sacrifice yet more so as to leave more for those who have to struggle harder.
Challenging? Certainly. Even the authors only seem to have made it half way to step #2, limiting their income as a couple to $12,000 a year. Some other choices they made were to “keep the majority of our savings in the form of non-interest-bearing loans” so as to avoid the sin of usury, and to “give away each year an amount equal to what we spend on ourselves.”
(A letter-to-the-editor in the issue criticized this radical simplicity, saying it smacked of “intelligent, able-bodied adults who consciously decide to let others subsidize” the benefits of society. In particular: “In reducing their income to avoid paying taxes to support the military, this couple also avoids paying taxes that support the other half of the federal budget. So, there goes their support for many of the roads they use, for medical research they might avail themselves of through that subsidized doctor, for other federally supported scientific and social research, for national parks, and so forth. The authors are obviously well educated. Their education was probably supported by local, state, and federal subsidies. One wonders if they are repaying society for the educational benefit they’ve received.”)
Another brief note in the issue reported on the results of a “penny poll” that had been “conducted by Christian Peacemaker Teams in Elkhart, Ind.” and had indicated that those polled implicitly supported huge reductions in military spending.
A letter-to-the-editor from Marjorie Schier and Suzanne Day of the “Philadelphia Yearly Meeting War Tax Concerns Support Committee” published in the issue summarized the war tax issue as they saw it:
When a draft call finds some conscientious objectors unable to participate in war, the government not only has provided them alternatives, but also has proceeded to draft others who will participate. It is individual conscience that makes the difference, not how the government allocates the recruits. Some Friends have been unable to enlist, and some cannot voluntarily send dollars in federal tax for military uses.
Interacting with the federal government through tax resistance as witness for peace is more than symbolic; it can be earnest, meaningful religious conscience in action. However, it does not change how the government allocates its resources, and efforts to witness for changed priorities are also significant. Many Friends and others work for passage of the Peace Tax Fund Bill by the U.S. Congress because it would not only provide a legal opportunity for pacifists to pay their full federal tax without supporting war, but also give the government an indication of the numbers of citizens exercising this option.
Yes, the federal tax on telephone service is refused by many pacifists (with a note of explanation accompanying the refusal and redirection of the money for constructive purposes) because that tax was specifically reinstated to support the war in Vietnam. Federal bookkeeping does not distinguish certain tax streams for specific purposes, and has not since John Woolman wrestled with this same issue. Nevertheless, many Friends are prompted to take a stand for peace via taxes and thereby find a forum for disclosing that witness with meetings, governmental representatives, families, and neighbors.
An obituary notice for Abram Bresel Goldstein in that same issue noted that “[t]hough he worked briefly for the Internal Revenue Service, Abram left that position during the Korean War to avoid aiding the collection of taxes for war.”
On , NWTRCC and the War Tax Concerns Support Committee of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting sponsored a seminar on “Corporate Conscience and War Taxes” at the Moorestown, New Jersey, Meeting (according to a calendar listing in the issue).
The war tax resistance of Quaker Priscilla Adams became a cause célèbre that played out over in the Friends Journal starting in . I’ll break with my chronological examination of the Journal for a while to follow this thread.
The issue introduces Adams and her legal case:
Priscilla Adams, a war tax resister and member of Haddonfield (N.J.) Meeting, is challenging the IRS in court under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Her case is the first of its kind to test conscientious war tax resistance since the passage of the RFRA in . Priscilla and her lawyer, Peter Goldberger, will challenge two points covered by the act: the government’s use of penalties against war tax resisters for their stands of conscience; and the lack of a government accommodation for conscientious objectors to paying for war (like a Peace Tax Fund). The RFRA states that in conflicts between the government and religious freedom, the government must show compelling state interest and then use the least restrictive means necessary. In this case, Priscilla is challenging the government’s lack of recognition of conscience in response to the IRS assessing her taxes and penalties. She and Peter are arguing that under RFRA, the IRS should waive penalties for religious war tax resisters as long as they recognize other forms of reasonable cause for noncompliance with the tax law. They also are stating that the RFRA requires the enactment of something like a peace tax fund for religious war tax resisters who are willing to accept a reasonable accommodation, such as earmarking tax monies for non-warlike purposes in the federal government. The case has completed its earliest procedural stages and will be heard in United States Tax Court. Though no date has been set, lawyers expect a trial date . Priscilla has participated in several clearness committees and is receiving guidance and support from Haddonfield Meeting, the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting’s War Tax Concerns Support Committee, the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund, and family and friends.
The issue gave an update:
Priscilla Adams… will appeal the court’s decision rejecting her right to refuse to pay taxes. The case went before the Philadelphia Tax Court, where Adams presented an extensive outline of Quaker history and beliefs related to war tax objections. The court’s decision states, “Religious Freedom Restoration Act of does not exempt Quaker from federal income taxes, despite taxpayer’s religious opposition to military expenditures.” , Rosa Packard of Purchase (N.Y.) Meeting and Gordon and Edith Browne of Plainfield (Vt.) Meeting also have filed complaints in federal district courts seeking to protect their conscientious acts of war tax refusal.
The issue mentioned her appeal:
Tax resister Priscilla Lippincott Adams… faced the Federal Court of Appeals on . Her case against the IRS for penalizing her for her religious objections to paying the military through taxes was dismissed in … The court had the choice of hearing oral arguments or making a decision based on the written briefs. In a positive turn, the judges heard oral arguments. Adams said her lawyer, Peter Goldberger, passionately presented her case, “just like a lawyer on T.V.” The three judges will now make a decision, a process that could take anywhere from six weeks to six months.
From there, to the Supreme Court, according to a press release that formed the basis for a Journal news brief:
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting has filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of its member, Priscilla Adams… who petitioned the high court in , following unsuccessful efforts in lower courts to obtain government accommodation for her conscientious objection to paying war taxes by allowing her to pay federal taxes without paying for military expenditures. Her employer, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, supports religious witness by not forwarding the military portion of a conscientious objector’s taxes to the IRS. A Peace Tax Fund, where tax dollars of conscientious objectors would be directed exclusively to nonmilitary programs, is one possible solution to the dilemma for adherents to nonviolence; a bill to establish a Peace Tax Fund has been introduced in every Congress .
…Lower courts addressed the issue of accommodating war tax resistance only by declaring that the government has a compelling interest in collecting taxes; the courts have not dealt with the arguments that accommodation of conscientious objection would be possible within the context of mandatory participation in taxation. The Supreme Court has not heard any case that raises these religious liberty questions under the law.
By then it was too late, though. The issue noted that Adams’s Supreme Court appeal had been turned down:
On , the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear appeals by Gordon and Edith Browne and Priscilla Lippincott Adams to lower-court rulings that allowed the Internal Revenue Service to impose late fees and interest for their conscientious refusal to pay the military portion of their federal tax. The issue in this case was not paying the tax when forced to do so by the IRS, but whether a “religious hardship” existed that should enable them to pay without any penalties and interest. The lower-court rulings reaffirmed a statement of the Supreme Court in that “The tax system could not function if denominations were allowed to challenge [it] because tax payments were spent in a manner that violates their religious belief.” The Justice Department lawyers said that “Voluntary compliance with the tax laws is the least restrictive means of furthering the government’s compelling interest in collecting taxes.”… “We’re very disappointed that the Supreme Court will not be taking the opportunity to reinforce religious freedom and freedom of conscience,” said Marian Franz, executive director of the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund. “Congress seems like the most appropriate place where this human right can be protected.”
Adams wasn’t going to give up though. Whether or not the government was going to deign to make her war tax resistance legal, she was going to resist, and the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting was willing to help her. From the issue:
The United States Department of Justice, Tax Division, is suing Philadelphia Yearly Meeting for refusing to forward wages of an employee to the Internal Revenue Service. The employee, Priscilla Adams, resists paying taxes for war and the military on the basis of religious conscience. The lawsuit, filed in , is a move to attain funds from PYM as recompense for taxes owed by Priscilla Adams, plus a 50-percent penalty for not garnishing her wages as instructed by the IRS in . If the IRS succeeds, PYM would owe approximately $60,000.
On , PYM’s Interim Meeting decided to respond to the lawsuit and defend its position in court. PYM stated that to garnish Priscilla Adams’s wages would infringe upon her religious beliefs, and PYM should not “be required to act as a collection agent for the government when doing so will require it to violate key tenets of the Quaker faith.”
Thomas Jeavons, PYM general secretary, commented in the Philadelphia Inquirer, “About 50 percent of our taxes pay for weapons and warfare… We have long sought the creation of a Peace Tax Fund, a government fund for nonmilitary use, where taxes of [those who regard paying for war as a violation of religious conscience] could go. Legislation for this has been in Congress for many years. It should be passed now.”
The issue spelled out the Meeting’s legal argument:
On , Philadelphia Yearly Meeting filed its answer to a Justice Department lawsuit that asks a $20,000 penalty to be imposed on them and seeks to make them the collection agent for the government. The yearly meeting’s response makes dear its intention to stand by its essential religious principles, and publicly defend the free exercise of religion on all possible grounds, including constitutional and statutory religious freedom defenses. The IRS contends that PYM must garnish the salary of one of its employees and members who refuses — in keeping with longstanding Quaker convictions — to pay taxes that support war and preparations for war. While the IRS could easily take other courses to collect the back taxes it claims are due, instead the federal government is trying to force a church to collect these funds for it, an action that would require this Quaker organization to violate its own essential religious convictions regarding freedom of conscience. PYM has refused to do so. The answer to the suit says that the government “asks the court to assist it in violating the most fundamental religious principles of an established church… Although those principles and the yearly meeting’s reasons for its actions have been painstakingly explained to the [government]… the complaint purports to set forth the history of this matter without even mentioning PYM’s efforts at communication and conciliation. Further, the complaint labels the Yearly Meeting’s religiously mandated actions as a ‘failure’ to submit to government coercion, and brands the [Quaker] theological scruples as ‘unreasonable’ and deserving of harsh penalties.” The news release from PYM adds, “Quakers have long been known for their religious pacifism, opposition to war, and support of religious freedom and freedom of conscience. PYM regrets that being true to its faith has now brought us into conflict with the government. The Quaker organization sees itself as defending freedom of religion and freedom of conscience — and not just for itself, but for all those who desire to be both good citizens and people of faith. While PYM regrets the need to resort to legal action, it looks forward to a full airing of the issues involved in a public forum where both the sound reasons and religious principles that guide this Quaker organization’s actions may be upheld. PYM’s defense will rest on the constitutional right to freedom of religion generally, and particularly as upheld and restated in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of .”
The issue reported on how far they’d gotten with that argument:
On , A federal judge ruled that Philadelphia Yearly Meeting must comply with a levy on the wages of war tax refuser Priscilla Adams, but rejected a 50 percent penalty desired by the Internal Revenue Service. U.S. District Judge Stewart Dalzell agreed with the Quaker argument that complying with the levy “substantially burdens its exercise of religion,” because, as PYM General Secretary Thomas Jeavons earlier testified, the organization “considers it a sacred duty to support the conscientious actions of its individual members, especially in such historic witnesses as the Peace Testimony.” Judge Stewan Dalzell also agreed that the PYM defense “raised novel and important questions,” thus demonstrating in this instance that the previous refusal of PYM to comply was not a frivolous activity. But he disagreed that the IRS had practical alternative means to collect taxes from Priscilla Adams. The government should not be required “to engage in a time-consuming, and possibly fruitless, scavenger hunt for other assets.” In , the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had already rejected Priscilla Adams’s claim that the government could devise a means for earmarking taxes for nonmilitary expenditures, stating that there were “particularly difficult problems with administration should exceptions on religious grounds be carved out by the courts.”
That issue also noted:
Film students from Brooklyn Friends School are directing and producing a video documentary about Quaker peace activist Priscilla Adams. The students came to Friends Center in Philadelphia to interview her about how her religious beliefs led her to refuse payment of taxes in order to avoid contributing to military funding. The students also interviewed George Lakey, head of Training for Change, and Gene Hillman, adult religious education coordinator for Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. This documentary film may be an entry for Bridge Film Festival, which is open to middle and upper school students at Quaker schools worldwide.
The issue noted that the film had been made — a 16-minute short titled A Need to Witness. And hey, look — it’s on-line: