The F.B.I. Spies on War Tax Resistance Protest

The FBI was nice enough to take careful notes at a war tax resistance protest that took place in Washington, D.C. on , and write up what they saw. Seems that the government does sometimes pay attention to protests.

Tax Resistance Action in Washington, D.C.,

An advertisement in the , issue of “Village Voice,” a weekly newspaper concerning activities in Greenwich Village, and other sections of New York, N.Y., was captioned “Tax Resistance Action in Washington, D.C.” It stated the Catholic Worker, Resist, Writers and Editors War Tax Protest, and the War Resisters League would sponsor the activity at , at the Internal Revenue Service, Washington, D.C. (WDC).

This advertisement indicated the peaceful action at the Internal Revenue Service would be preceded by a public meeting in Judiciary Square, Fourth and E Streets, N.W., WDC, at Dr. Arthur Waskow of the Institute for Policy Studies; Dave Dellinger, Chairman of the National Mobilization Committee (to End the War in Vietnam); Harold Tovish of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Barbara Deming, an author; and Professor William C. Davidon of Haverford College would be among the speakers at this public meeting.

On , a confidential source, who has furnished reliable information in the past, made available a flyer published by the Tax Resistance Project, War Resisters League, 5 Beekman Street, New York, N.Y., calling for support of the activity on . This flyer asks participants to bring their completed income tax return or a statement explaining why they are refusing to file a return. It is stated that these returns and/or statements, accompanied by an insufficient amount of money or no money at all, will be turned in to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), WDC, at .

A copy of this flyer is attached.

The publication, “Washington ’68” describes the Institute for Policy Studies, 1520 New Hampshire Avenue, N.W., WDC, as an institution created to serve as an independent center of research and education on public policy problems in WDC.

The National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam was formerly known as the Spring Mobilization Committee (SMC).

The SMC is described in the publication entitled “Communist Origin and Manipulation of Vietnam Week (),” a report by the Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives. On page 53, the report states in part, “Communists are playing dominant roles in both the Student Mobilization Committee and the Spring Mobilization Committee.”

A second source, who has furnished reliable information in the past, as of , identified Arthur Waskow as a member of the Steering Committee of the Washington Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam, an outgrowth of the SMC.

A third confidential source, who has furnished reliable information in the past, reported on , that during a symposium in New York City on , David Dellinger, editor of Liberation magazine, identified himself as a pacifist, advocated a communist society, and said, “I am a communist.” However, he pointed out that he was not a “Soviet-type” communist.

On , Professor William C. Davidon was a participant in a program on Radio Station WEAU, Chicago, Illinois, concerning “Peace Walks.” During this program he admitted being a sponsor of the Committee to Secure Justice for Morton Sobell (Committee to Free Morton Sobell) (CFMS).

A characterization of the CFMS is attached.

An article appearing in the issue of the “Cape Cod Standard-Times,” a daily newspaper, Hyannis, Massachusetts, stated that Barbara Deming returned to the United States the previous day after spending eleven days in North Vietnam. She accused the United States of waging a war of terror against a civilian population.

On , Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation observed approximately fifty-five people gathered in Judiciary Square, WDC. At approximately , Professor William C. Davidon, acting as master of ceremonies, opened the program by stating that a large number of people are not paying taxes because their money is being used to kill in Vietnam. He estimated that four thousand people are not paying the telephone tax.

Professor Davidon then introduces Arthur Waskow as a representative of Resist. Waskow described Resist as a group encouraging and supplying funds to those who refuse to kill. Waskow said they were assembled to uphold the law. He said that the war in Vietnam is illegal, and that the crime is in the White House and executive offices, not in the streets. He claimed that the President and the Secretaries of State and Defense are the ones violating the law.

Waskow further stated that the President has helped wreck the dollar with the war in Vietnam. He urged those present to uphold the economy and the law by withholding that portion of their income tax that is paying for the “obscene” war. Waskow also felt it is illegal for IRS to collect money to pay for that war.

The next speaker, Harold Tovish, stated the Johnson Administration has alienated the youth of today with lies and a foul war. He said that the youth of America wants a life that is worth living, and he was not certain that life today is worth living. Tovish also said they had gathered in WDC to show that they cannot tolerate the type of life that has been formed for Americans today.

At approximately , the majority of the group left Judiciary Square and walked to the Constitution Avenue entrance of the IRS building. About fifteen carried posters reading, “Don’t Pay War Taxes.”

Beginning at about , Barbara Deming spoke to the gathering. She said she believes in government of, by, and for the people, and stressed how little tax money is spent for people. She claimed the United States is saying to the Vietnamese — let us self-determine you or we will have to destroy you. Deming stated the lives of the Vietnamese do not belong to the Government, and that she refuses to pay her taxes to deliver these lives “up to Caesar.”

An individual identified as Wally Nelson stated that in he affirmed that no human being should be killed and indicated he has refused to pay taxes since that date. He said that rational people should not pay for slaughter, and should not allow a portion of their taxes to be used for that purpose. Nelson stated that any government that prides itself on killing people owes its people an apology. He indicated he will continue to refuse to pay taxes.

James Leo Herlihy, a novelist, spoke briefly about the inflated cost of killing people you do not really hate. He said that at one time it cost $14,000. to kill a person during a war, but that now that cost has risen to $234,000.

David Dellinger spoke of refusing to pay taxes to a government that tortures, kills, and maims people. He stressed the need for door to door contact to ask people how long they are going to be willing to pay for killing.

Professor Davidon then read what he said was a telegram from three doctors in Cambridge, Massachusetts, supporting their action against IRS.

At approximately , a delegation of seven of the demonstrators was admitted to the IRS Building to meet with IRS officials. This delegation said they were prepared to deliver “thirty envelopes” to IRS.

Whle waiting outside the entrance one ⸺ ⸺ of Connecticut state an associate has been harassed by IRS since for not paying taxes, and that he, Hayworth, is now suffering the same harassment. [Probably Neil Haworth―♇]

A ⸺ from the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area, and ⸺ of Princeton, both spoke briefly against paying taxes to support the illegal war in Vietnam.

The demonstrators passed out literature of the War Resisters League. One leaflet captioned, “Resist Vietnam War Taxes,” states that about 67 percent of taxes collected by the Government go for war and preparations for war, and that about 23 percent goes for the war in Vietnam. Another captioned, “Hang Up on War! — Telephone War Tax Refusal Campaign,” urges refusal to pay the ten percent telephone tax.

The delegation that had been admitted to the IRS Building at about left the building at approximately , and the demonstrators dispersed shortly thereafter. There were no arrests or incidents during this demonstration.

On , Mr. Ray Brennan, Internal Security Division, Office of the Assistant Commissioner, Inspection, IRS, advised that the following were admitted to meet with Deputy Assistant Commissioner Leon C. Greene and a representative of the IRS Baltimore District Office:

  • David Hartsough
  • Arthur Waskow
  • Barbara Deming
  • William Davidon
  • Wallace Nelson
  • Harold Tovich
  • David Dellinger

A copy of an IRS news release dated , concerning the activity on that date is attached.

The attached flyer announcing the action was a typewritten sheet with a crudely-drawn headline:

Tax Resistance Action in Washington, DC

Internal Revenue Service Headquarters, 12th St. & Constitution Ave.

Join us in an act of collective tax resistance. Bring your completed tax return, form 1040, or a statement explaining why you are not filing, and together we will return forms and statements accompanied by either no money or an insufficient amount of money. The action at IRS will be preceded by a public meeting at Judiciary Square, 4th & E St. N.W., Dr. Arthur Waskow of the Institute for Policy Studies and Dave Dellinger, Chairman of the National Mobilization Committee, will be among the speakers.

We act because for many verbal opposition to the war in Vietnam is no longer enough. Resistance has become necessary. Our consciences dictate it. The young men resisting the draft have shown a way and we who are not subject to the draft must develop creative parallels. Tax resistance is such a parallel act because it confronts the administration directly and challenges it at a vital point. It liberates the tax resister by showing him that he does have choices.

Total refusers, partial tax refusers, and telephone tax refusers will all be there. Join us.

That flyer then listed the sponsors (Catholic Worker, Writers & Editors Tax Protest, Resist, and War Resisters League) and included a tear-off section that could be returned to War Resisters League headquarters for people who wanted more information or transportation options. It encouraged recipients to also sign this pledge: “I dissociate myself from my government’s actions in Vietnam and therefore I am not paying all or more portion of my income taxes. Signed:…”

The IRS press release, also attached to the FBI report, was mostly uninteresting. It snidely contrasted the protesters with “[t]he overwhelming majority of taxpayers [who] carry out this obligation of citizenship in a conscientious manner” and also suggested that the protesters were part of a tiny movement, most of whom would ultimately buckle: “In a relatively few cases, IRS has had to enforce collection against tax protestors. Most have paid when asked and some who failed to pay voluntarily notified the IRS where the taxes could be collected from their bank accounts.”