War Tax Resister Martha Tranquilli

From the edition of The Ledger (of Lakeland, Florida):

She Softly Fights War

A 63-year-old grandmother who refused to pay taxes to support the Vietnam war says she’s willing to face a federal prison sentence rather than renounce her protest.

“I’m too old to be frightened by anything,” said Mrs. Martha Tranquilli, a registered nurse at Delta Community Hospital in Mound Bayou, Miss.

She was sentenced in U.S. District Court at Clarksdale to nine months in federal prison after refusing to apologize in court for income tax violations stemming from her protest of American involvement in Southeast Asia.

“The war is still going on and we are pretty much in the same position as we were in . We still have men over there and of course, the corporations are moving in now to set up businesses and exploit the people,” said Mrs. Tranquilli.

The soft-spoken Springfield, Ill., native said she became a “devoted pacifist after they dropped the bomb in Hiroshima.”

On her tax return, Mrs. Tranquilli claimed as dependents six peace freedom organizations. “By claiming these organizations, this reduced my taxable income by about 60 per cent, which would go to war. These groups were entitled to my money. They were my dependents in as much as I support them.”

The groups were the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, the War Tax Resisters League, the American Civil Liberties Union, the International League for the Rights of Man and the American Friends Service Committee.

“After writing, marching, petitioning and kneeling down before them, I used this method to get the government to listen. This is a nonviolent civil disobedience.”

Mrs. Tranquilli’s sentence is being appealed to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court in New Orleans. She does not deny the charges of perjury and willfully filing a false income tax return.

“I am saying ‘No’ to my government. I am telling them they cannot use my money to support this senseless war. If enough people take the power back into their own hands, by simply saying ‘No,’ the government will have to change.”

Martha Tranquillii, who spent 7½ months in the federal prison at Terminal Island for being convicted of tax fraud, sat in her son’s Sacramento home and discussed her imprisonment. The 64-year-old grandmother said she received a nine month sentence because she refused to pay taxes to support the Vietnam War. Regarding her imprisonment Mrs. Tranquilli said, “I learned to crochet, met a lot of wonderful people and had a high school course in crime.”