War Tax Resistance and…

From the Salamanca Press:

Quaker vows to withhold taxes despite Supreme Court decision

 — A Quaker who refuses to pay part of her taxes in protest of the government’s military activities is standing fast despite a Supreme Court rejection of her appeal.

“I’m deeply saddened that they aren’t going to hear the case, but they needed to look at other ways that I could pay taxes without contributing to war efforts,” Priscilla Adams said after ’s court’s action.

“I will continue to refuse to pay until the government stops using my money for the purpose of killing people,” she said.

The nation’s highest court turned away appeals by Ms. Adams and two other members of the Religious Society of Friends who said the Internal Revenue Service violates their religious freedom by charging fees and interest for delays in paying the portion of their federal tax that funds the military.

Ms. Adams, of Burlington, N.J., owes the federal government thousands of dollars in back taxes and interest. She withheld a portion of federal income taxes paid for five years in the 1980s and ’90s and was assessed late fees and interest.

Gordon and Edith Browne, Quakers who own homes in New Hampshire and Vermont, also refused to pay a portion of their taxes. The Brownes sued the IRS in federal court in Vermont; Ms. Adams sued in U.S. Tax Court. Both lawsuits unsuccessfully sought refunds for the fees and interest the Quakers were forced to pay.

Their appeals did not contest having to pay 100 percent of their tax bill when the IRS forces their hand. Instead, the Quakers cited a “religious hardship” and argued they should be able to pay the back taxes without any penalties or interest.

The justices let stand rulings that had gone against the Quakers, allowing the IRS to impose late fees and interest in addition to back taxes.

Ms. Adams said she will not pay the taxes, even if her beliefs land her in prison.

“They could create a peaceful tax pool that would collect taxes that would only go to non-war activities, but they chose to not listen to reason,” she said.

Her resolve is not uncommon, according to Quakers and members of the War Resisters League, a New York-based pacifist group. They say the rulings against Ms. Adams and the Brownes will do little to deter those who do not pay.

“If people hadn’t refused to respond to the draft, there wouldn’t be conscientious objection statutes like there are now,” said Ruth Benn, the league’s director. “Someone has to have the courage to stand up for what they believe in. Until that happens, there won’t be any opportunity for change.”

Peggy Morscheck, director of the Quaker Information Center in Philadelphia, said only a “very small” percentage of the nation’s 92,000 Quakers withhold portions of their taxes.

“There are many, many ways to act on the peace testimony, and a lot of folks do not feel they can bear witness to that testimony through war-tax resistance,” Morscheck said.